In the recast staging of The Play What I Wrote, Ben has written a play, a French Revolution-set epic called A Tight Squeeze for the Scarlet Pimple, which he wants to see mounted. Joe, on the other hand, wants them to continue with their double act, even though they haven't worked for two years. He believes that, if they perform a tribute to Morecambe and Wise, Ben's confidence in the partnership will be restored. But first, Joe needs to persuade a guest star to appear in the play what Ben wrote.
Written by Hamish McColl and Sean Foley (aka the Right Size, who originally starred) with long-time Morecambe and Wise collaborator Eddie Braben, The Play What I Wrote was first seen at Liverpool's Everyman Theatre in October 2001, before transferring to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre, where it had a sell-out six months and returned for another limited season from 30 October 2002 to 4 January 2003, following a short regional tour.
The show's many accolades in the UK included the 2002 Laurence Olivier Awards for both Best New Comedy and Best Supporting Actor (for Toby Jones) as well as the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Ensemble Performance. Last month it completed a short run on Broadway, where it was nominated for a Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event (See The Goss, 10 Jun 2003). A US tour is also planned for the autumn.
Amongst the celebrities who clamoured to feature in the surprise celebrity guest slot in London were Joanna Lumley (pictured), Ralph Fiennes, Richard Wilson, Ewan McGregor, Jerry Hall, Dawn French, Minnie Driver and Kenneth Branagh, who also directed the original production. The New York production attracted the likes of Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, Nathan Lane and Eric McCormack from TV's Will and Grace.
In addition to the Olivier-nominated revival of Animal Crackers, first seen at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre, Keaton has been seen on stage in his Perrier Award-winning Intimate Memoirs of an Irish Taxidermist; Alessi is currently starring as Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Michael Pennington at the Open Air Theatre; and Sedgwick founded The Moving Picture Mime Company, which he performs with around the world.
The new UK tour of The Play What I Wrote is directed by Michael Gyngell, with choreography by Irving Davies and Michael King, design by Alice Power, original songs by Gary Yershon and musical arrangements by Steve Parry. It's presented by West End producer David Pugh.
Following Oxford, the production calls at Malvern, Bath, Stoke-on-Trent, Brighton, Plymouth, Edinburgh, Richmond, Cambridge, Birmingham, Glasgow and Salford, where it concludes its schedule on 13 December.
- by Terri Paddock