Frank Skinner to Star in Cooking With ElvisDate: 28 February 2000
Comedian and TV chat show host Frank Skinner hopes to consolidate his growing reputation as an actor with the lead in Lee Hall's tragi-comedy Cooking with Elvis, previewing at the Whitehall Theatre from March 7. One of the big hits of the 1999 Edinburgh Festival, Cooking with Elvis recalls the wild excesses of Joe Orton with its story of a dysfunctional family in which the father, an ertswhile Elvis impersonator, has been reduced to a vegetative state by a car accident, the mother invites her boyfriend - played by Skinner - to live with them, and the 14-year-old daughter, who has an eating disorder, begins a relationship with the boyfriend.
Skinner acquired a taste for acting when he appeared in Yasmina Reza's hit play Art at the Wyndham's last year. Like fellow comics Jack Dee and Eddie Izzard, his presence attracts many young people to the theatre who may never have been before.
An ardent admirer of Elvis Presley - he bought a blue velvet shirt belonging to the late singer for £11,000 - Frank Skinner was obviously attracted by the play's title, though he points out that he would never appear in anything that besmirched his hero's reputation.
For much of the play Skinner has to appear semi-naked with only a live tortoise to cover his modesty.
Along with producer Adam Kenwright, Skinner had to audition a number of tortoises for the job of co-star. The chosen one had to be 'reasonably active' and respond favourably to the music of Elvis Presley.
'Some of them were quite ferocious and clawed at you when you picked them up, which is a bit worrying if you're almost naked,' said Skinner. The lucky tortoise has been offered a six-month contract including a monthly fee, insurance, heated accommodation and expenses.