Cross, Bhasker and Ferns started performances on 27 May 2002 and were scheduled to finish this week, on 14 September, but contracts have apparently not been finalised with The League of Gentlemen. The new cast has long been rumoured and their appointment was prematurely leaked last month, an announcement quickly denied by producer David Pugh (See The Goss, 12 Aug 02). However, they are still expected to join the production in mid-October, with final confirmation of dates imminent.
The League (aka Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith) made their West End debuts last year with a limited Theatre Royal Drury Lane season of their sketch show, which was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment. The League wouldn't be the first comedians to appear in Art (both Jack Dee and Frank Skinner have already taken turns in the show), but they would be the first ready-made threesome to take over in the long-running hit.
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 was 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