Chariots of Fire star Ben Cross will make a rare London stage appearance when he joins the 25th cast of Yasmina Reza's long-running comedy Art at the Whitehall Theatre. He, along with Alex Ferns and Sanjeev Bhasker take over from current trio - Jamie Theakston, Stephen McGann and Christopher Luscombe - for a limited 12-week season from 27 May 2002.

Though he started his career in theatre - working as a stage hand in London before heading for RADA and joining the Royal Shakespeare Company - Cross is best known for his big screen roles, most notably in as Olympic runner Harold Abrahams in the 1981 Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire. His previous London stage credits, in the 1970s, include Privates on Parades, Wild Oats, I Love My Wife, Chicago and The Caine Mutiny Court Martial.

Alex Ferns is familiar to British TV audiences as baddie Trevor Morgan from BBC soap opera EastEnders while Sanjeev Bhasker has appeared on television in Goodness Gracious Me, Position Impossible and Small Potatoes.

Originally running for nearly five years at Wyndham's Theatre, where it opened in October 1996, the London production of Art - translated by Christopher Hampton and directed by Matthew Warchus - has long attracted well-known actors for its short stints. The original cast starred Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Ken Stott. Subsequent casts have featured Henry Goodman, David Haig, Anton Lesser, Tom Mannion and Art Malik, Nigel Havers, Richard Griffiths, Simon Shepher and Philip Franks as well as comedians Frank Skinner and Jack Dee. Imported American casts have also brought the likes of Patrick Duffy, Richard Thomas, Judd Hirsch, George Wendt and Stacy Keach to the West End.

- by Terri Paddock