|Born||Michael Howell Blakemore
June 18, 1928
|Awards||Drama Desk Awards
Outstanding Director of a Play
1984 Noises Off
Outstanding Director of a Musical
2000 Kiss Me, Kate
Michael Howell Blakemore OBE (born 18 June 1928) is an Australian actor, writer and theatre director. In 2000 he became the only individual to win Tony Awards for best Director of a Play and Musical in the same year for Copenhagen and Kiss Me, Kate.
Early life 
Blakemore was born in Sydney, Australia on, son of Conrad Howell Blakemore and his wife, Una Mary Litchfield. He married English actress Shirley Bush. Blakemore was educated at the King's School, Sydney, and went on to study medicine at the University of Sydney. He trained for the stage at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, 1950 to 1952.
Blakemore's first job in the theatre was as press agent for Robert Morley during the Australian tour of Edward, My Son, who advised him to try drama school. In 1950 he came to London, enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and trained as an actor. He made his first professional stage appearance in 1952 at the Theatre Royal, Huddersfield, as the doctor in The Barretts of Wimpole Street.
He then worked for several years in repertory including Birmingham Repertory Company, Bristol and Coventry, and made his first London appearance at the Princes Theatre in March 1958 as Jack Poyntz in the musical play School. He also played small parts at Stratford in the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre's 1959 season. It was at the latter that he met and worked with Tyrone Guthrie, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Peter Brook, Peter Hall et al.
Theatre performance 
He appeared in two seasons at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, playing Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night and Holofernes in Love's Labour's Lost in 1962; Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing and Theseus in A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1963. At the Comedy Theatre in December 1963 he played Badger in Toad of Toad Hall, then toured Australia as Palmer Anderson in A Severed Head.
Theatre directing 
During this period and after acting for some 15 years, Blakemore decided that his true calling was in directing. For the Citizens' Theatre in Glasgow he directed The Investigation, Little Malcolm, Stephen D and Nightmare Abbey in 1966; and The Strange Case of Martin Richter, The Visions of Simone Machard, A Choice of Wars and Rosmersholm in 1967. He became its Co-Artistic Director in 1968 and had a great success with Peter Nichols' A Day in the Death of Joe Egg in 1967, accompanying the play on its moves to London that year and to Broadway in 1968, earning his first Tony nomination for directing.
In 1969, Blakemore joined the National Theatre at the Old Vic to direct The National Health by Peter Nichols (1969) and, in 1971, became Associate Director under Laurence Olivier. He directed Olivier in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night (1971). His other productions included Tyger by Adrian Mitchell, co-directed with John Dexter (1971), The Front Page by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (1972), Macbeth (1972), The Cherry Orchard (translated by Ronald Hingley, 1973), Grand Manoeuvres (1974), Engaged by W. S. Gilbert (1975), and Plunder by Ben Travers (1976).
In 1977, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company to direct Peter Nichols' Privates on Parade, which he filmed in 1982 with Denis Quilley and John Cleese. He became resident director of the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith in 1980, where he directed Michael Frayn's Make and Break, opening on 12 March, starring Leonard Rossiter and Prunella Scales, and which in a revised version transferred on 24 April to the Theatre Royal Haymarket. This was followed in October 1980 by Ibsen's The Wild Duck in a new translation by Ronald Hingley; and in February 1982 by the world premiere of Frayn's Noises Off prior to its transfer to the Savoy Theatre.
His association with playwright Michael Frayn, which began at the Lyric Hammersmith with Make and Break (1980) and Noises Off (1982), continued with Frayn's Benefactors (Vaudeville, 1984), Frayn's translation of Uncle Vanya (Vaudeville, 1988), and his original plays, Here (Donmar Warehouse, 1993) and Now You Know (Hampstead, 1995).
After an absence of many years, Blakemore returned to the National to direct Frayn's play Copenhagen in May 1998, prior to its transfer to the Duchess Theatre in February 1999. This was followed by Alarms and Excursions (Gielgud, September 1998), Democracy (National, Cottesloe, September 2003; Wyndham's, April 2004), and Afterlife (National, Lyttelton, June 2008).
In addition to his work in the subsidised theatre, Blakemore has directed many productions in the West End and on Broadway, including Noël Coward's Design for Living with Vanessa Redgrave (1973), David Hare's first play, Knuckle (1974), Peter Shaffer's Lettice and Lovage with Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack (1987), the musical City of Angels by Larry Gelbart, Cy Coleman and David Zippel (1989) and Arthur Miller's The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991).
In 1995 he directed the off-Broadway production of Death Defying Acts, composed of three one-act plays (Central Park West by Woody Allen, The Interview by David Mamet and Hotline by Elaine May). Also Coleman's The Life (1997), the revival of Kiss Me, Kate (1999), Embers by Christopher Hampton, with Jeremy Irons at the Duke of York's Theatre in London (March 2006)  and, on Broadway, Deuce by Terrence McNally (April 2007) starring Angela Lansbury and Marian Seldes .
Blakemore directed and scripted the 1981 documentary, A Personal History of the Australian Surf: The Confessions of a Straight Poofter, in which he appeared as himself. Tom Milne, reviewing it for the Time Out Film Guide, described the film as, "basically a home movie in which theatre director Blakemore traces his graduation from Bondi Beach to National Theatre...mercifully short on surfing spectacle."
He directed the 1982 film version of Privates on Parade and in 1994 wrote and directed Country Life. In this adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, transferred to an Australian setting, he also played the role of Alexander who has left the London literary scene to return to his roots. The film received five nominations from the Australian Film Institute and was entered into the 19th Moscow International Film Festival.
Awards and nominations 
- 1967 Evening Standard Award Best Play - A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
- 1971 Variety Magazine London Drama Critics Best Director - Forget-Me-Not Lane
- 1972 Plays and Players Award for Best Director - Long Day's Journey Into Night
- 1972 Plays and Players Award for Best Director - The Front Page
- 2000 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Play - Copenhagen
- 2000 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play - Copenhagen
- 2000 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical - Kiss Me, Kate
- 2000 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical - Kiss Me, Kate
- 1968 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play - A Day in the Death of Joe Egg
- 1984 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play - Noises Off
- 1984 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Play - Noises Off
- 1990 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play - Lettice and Lovage
- 1990 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical - City of Angels
- 1990 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Director of a Musical - City of Angels
- 1997 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical - The Life
- 1997 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Direction of a Musical - The Life
- 2002 Laurence Olivier Award Best Director - Kiss Me, Kate
- 2003 London Evening Standard Sydney Edwards Award - Democracy
- Blakemore, Michael (1969). Next Season. New York: Simon and Schuster. OCLC 438604.
- Blakemore, Michael (2004). Arguments with England. London: Faber. ISBN 0-571-22445-8.
- Ian, Herbert; Baxter, Christine; Finlay, Robert E (1981). Who's Who in the Theatre (17th edition ed.). Detroit: Gale. ISBN 0-8103-0234-9.
- Callow, Simon (1997). The National Theatre and its Work 1963-1997. Nick Hern Books. ISBN 1-85459-323-4.
- Michael Blakemore at the Internet Broadway Database
- Michael Blakemore at the Internet Movie Database