Thomas and Duffy both made their West End debuts in the play about three friends - Yvan, Serge and Marc - who fall out over a piece of modern art. They, along with fellow American Paul Freeman will be replaced by Colin Buchanan as Marc, Alistair McGowan as Serge and Sean Hughes as Yvan.
McGowan and Hughes follow in the footsteps of comedians Jack Dee and Frank Skinner, who made their West End acting debuts in the comedy by Yasmina Reza. After his initial three-month run, Dee returned to a later cast to play another role, while Skinner continued his West End successes with a starring role in Lee Hall's Cooking with Elvis, which continues to play at the Whitehall Theatre.
McGowan is best known for his television series Alastair McGowan's Big Impressions in which he impersonated sports stars and other celebrities. Hughes, a London Irish comedian, is a regular on the comedy quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks. In 1990, he won the coveted Perrier Award at the Edinburgh festival for his stand-up show A One Night Stand with Sean Hughes. Colin Buchanan stars in BBC television's Dalziel and Pascoe, which has just started a new series.
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 Richard Griffiths, Henry Goodman, David Haig, Anton Lesser, Tom Mannion, Art Malik and Nigel Havers. In addition to the current trio, American casts have also brought the likes of Judd Hirsch, George Wendt and Stacy Keach to the West End.
In 1998, the Broadway production of Art, also directed by Warchus, opened to critical acclaim with a cast featuring Alan Alda, Victor Garber and Alfred Molina. Art won both the Evening Standard and Olivier Awards for Best Comedy. In New York, the play won the Tony and New York Critics Circle Awards for Best Play.