First up, Ducktastic! - the Right Size’s (aka Hamish McColl and Sean Foley) follow-up to 2002’s The Play What I Wrote, directed by Kenneth Branagh – opens on 17 October 2005 (previews from 11 October) at the Albery Theatre, where public booking opens on 12 September (See News, 24 May 2005). A day after that premiere, on 18 October 2005 (previews from 7 October), Heroes - a new play by Gerald Sibleyras, adapted by Tom Stoppard and starring Richard Griffiths, John Hurt and Ken Stott – receives its West End premiere at Wyndham’s Theatre, where it will play a strictly limited 14-week season to 14 January 2006 (See News, 26 May 2005). The box office at the Wyndham’s opens for it on 19 September 2005.
Similar to how the multi award-winning Play What I Wrote was inspired by Morecambe and Wise, Ducktastic! is inspired by Siegfried and Roy, the flamboyant, German-born magicians who’ve been entertaining Las Vegas audiences for more than 30 years. However, whereas Siegfried and Roy have built their act around white Siberian tigers, the Right Size’s show is, as the title suggests, built around white ducks.
In Ducktastic!, which plays at Theatre Royal Newcastle from 2 to 17 September 2005 ahead of its transfer, McColl plays world famous illusionist Cornelius Ursula Sassoon who, after an accident with an emu, loses his license to perform in Las Vegas. He teams up with Foley’s Roy de La Rue (né Street), a pet shop proprietor from Portsmouth, to form Sassoon & Roy and put on a new West End show.
The new play reunites the Right Size with Kenneth Branagh and Alice Power, who respectively directed and designed The Play What I Wrote, as well as producer David Pugh. The Ducktastic! cast, intriguingly with 26 members (though we presume some of those are of the feathered variety), also features Liz Crowther, Clive Hayward, Alex Kelly, Ruby Snape and Daphne (the duck?). The show is choreographed by Michael Rooney (son of Mickey), with lighting and special effects by Patrick Woodroffe, original music by Steve Parry and magic by Simon Drake.
Set in 1959, Heroes - which was called Le Vent de Peupliers, where it was a long-running hit - takes place in a veterans’ hospital where Gustave, Philippe and Henri are planning their escape. The UK premiere production is directed by Gate artistic director Thea Sharrock and designed by Robert Jones.
Griffiths is still riding high after his three Best Actor wins – at the Evening Standard, Critics’ Circle and Olivier Awards – for his role in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, which he’s now making into a feature film this summer ahead of its 2006 Broadway premiere (See News, 27 Jul 2005). His other credits include: on stage, Art, The Man Who Came to Dinner, Luther and Katherine Howard; and on screen, Harry Potter, Chariots of Fire and Withnail and I.
Hurt was most recently seen in the West End in Afterplay and Krapp's Last Tape. He’s best known internationally for his long-running film career in which his credits include Alien, Little Malcolm, The Elephant Man, 1984, White Mischief, The Field, Crime and Punishment, Rob Roy and Love and Death on Long Island.
Stott’s many screen credits include television’s The Vice, Messiah, Uncle Adolf and The Singing Detective as well as films such as The Boxer, Shallow Grave, Fever Pitch, King Arthur and Casanova. His stage credits include Broken Glass, Faith Healer, The Misanthrope, Death of a Salesman, Hamlet, The Rose Tattoo and another French three-hander at Wyndham’s nine years ago, Yasmina Reza’s Art, which was also produced by David Pugh.
- by Terri Paddock