Wales

Sheen's Under Milk Wood in New York for Dylan Thomas centenary

Actor Michael Sheen Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Michael Sheen says it is an opportunity to celebrate Dylan Thomas's life and work

Michael Sheen's production of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood makes its New York debut on Sunday.

Celebrating the centenary of the poet's birth, the Hollywood actor will star in the "play for voices" on the same stage it premiered on in 1953.

The actor said it was an "absolute thrill" to perform the play on the stage that it "first found its voice".

The reading will be broadcast live simultaneously on the venue's website and on bbc.co.uk/radiowales.

Michael Sheen said: "The live radio broadcast is an opportunity to celebrate him and his work.

"In both New York - a city that became so important to Dylan - and, at the same time, in Wales, his inspiration and home."

Sheen, from Port Talbot, will also direct the reading and lead a cast of all-Welsh actors in a tribute to Thomas, who was born 100 years ago on Monday.

Those joining him on stage include Mark Lewis Jones, Francine Morgan and Matthew Aubrey.

Actress Kate Burton whose mother and father, Sybil Williams and Richard Burton, took part in the very first reading, is also in the cast.

And the performance will not be without fans from Wales.

Image copyright Robin Marchant
Image caption Actress Kate Burton, daughter of Richard Burton, will join Michael Sheen on stage

Llanelli-born Meinir Davies, who now lives in the US, will be flying from San Francisco to New York to get a front-row seat.

She said: "I started to read Dylan's poetry at a young age and was enthralled by it.

Asked about her expectations of Sheen's production, she said: "I'm sure it will be done very well.

"I'm hoping to drink in a bit of Welshness."

The New York production is just the latest incarnation of the famous play.

Past productions have included a BBC Radio performance in 1954 and a film version in 1972, with Richard Burton featuring in both.

Earlier this year Sheen joined fellow Welsh stars including Sian Phillips, Jonathan Pryce, Ioan Gruffudd, and Tom Jones in a new BBC version of the work.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dylan Thomas at a New York book shop in 1952

The return to New York is fitting not only because it was where the play was first performed, but because it was also where Thomas died in November 1953, just a few months after his last work made it to the stage.

Coinciding with the performance in New York, Thomas's home city of Swansea will mark his 100th birthday with its very own 'Dylathon'.

The event will see all his work - poems, short stories, scripts and broadcasts - performed over 36 hours at Swansea Grand Theatre.

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