Humble Boy had its world premiere in August 2001 at the National Theatre, where Simon Russell Beale and Diana Rigg starred, and transferred for an extended West End season at the Gielgud Theatre in 2002, with first Felicity Kendal and then Maria Aitken replacing Rigg. That year, the play won both the Critics' Circle and the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Awards for Best New Play. In May 2003, a separate production opened on Broadway.
For the UK tour, Mills plays Flora Humble, the widowed mother of Hugh Sachs' Cambridge astrophysicist, Felix Humble, in the comedy about broken vows, failed hopes and the joys of bee-keeping, which is based loosely on Shakespeare's Hamlet. Booth is Flora's frisky lover George Pye. The cast also includes Brigit Forsyth (currently appearing in High Society at London's Open Air Theatre) and John Burgess.
Hayley Mills, daughter of Sir John Mills, is probably best remembered as the 1960s child star whose films included Whistle Down the Wind, The Parent Trap, The Chalk Garden, The Trouble with Angels and Pollyanna. She has continued to work regularly on stage where her credits have included Dead Guilty, Brief Encounter, Fallen Angels and in the US, A Little Night Music, The King and I and The Vagina Monologues.
Tony Booth, the father of Cherie Blair, is a familiar television face from the likes of Till Death Us Do Part and the various Confessions of... series. More recently, his stage credits have included Prize Night, The Brothers of the Brush, The Revenger's Tragedy and The Rocky Horror Show.
The new Humble Boy tour is directed by Kathleen Powers, after John Caird's original direction, and designed by Tim Hatley, with lighting by Paul Pyant and sound by Christopher Shutt. It's presented by Matthew Byam Shaw - who, with Anna Mackmin, originally commissioned Charlotte Jones to write the play - and Act Productions.
- by Terri Paddock