Firth's adaptation of his Calendar Girls screenplay won last year’s Whatsonstage.com Award for Best New Comedy. Sign of the Times was originally written in 1991 as a one-act play called Absolutely Frank for Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre under Alan Ayckbourn, the full-length version of the play toured the UK last year with Stephen Tompkinson and Tom Shaw.
Firth’s other credits include Neville’s Island, The Safari Party and Olivier Award-winning Madness musical Our House on stage; and Calendar Girls, Blackball, Kinky Boots, Money for Nothing and Preston Front on screen.
Matthew Kelly won the 2003 Olivier Award for Best Actor for Of Mice and Men. His many theatre credits since have included Waiting for Godot, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Troilus and Cressida, Comedians and the musicals Spamalot and Lend Me a Tenor.
Best known as Ian Gallagher from Shameless and Ryan in Ken Loach’s film Looking for Eric, Gerard Kearns’ stage credits include A Thousand Yards, Hanky Park and Borstal Boy. Sign of the Times marks his West End debut.
The next production confirmed for the Duchess is Simon Gray's Butley which opens on 6 June 2011 (previews from 1 June). The 40th anniversary revival, it is directed by Lindsay Posner and has a cast which includes The Wire star Dominic West, Penny Downie and Paul McGann.