Christian Slater has returned to the West End in the world premiere stage adaptation of George Huang’s 1994 film Swimming with Sharks at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre, where it has a limited 15-week season(See News, 8 Aug 2007). After press night on Tuesday (16 October 2007, previews from 5 October), the production celebrated with a star-studded gala performance last night (17 October).

Slater plays Buddy Ackerman, the part created by Kevin Spacey on screen. Buddy is one of the most powerful men in the cut-throat world of Hollywood, the mastermind of a top studio’s high-grossing, ultra violent horror slate – and he’s the boss from hell. Guy, his eager and idealistic new assistant and would-be screenwriter, soon finds himself serving as Buddy’s personal slave. Hoping to be given his big break, Guy endures Buddy’s relentless abuse until he reaches breaking point, leading to a torturous showdown between mentor, protégé and lover, with devastating consequences.

Slater made his West End debut playing rebel Randle P McMurphy, immortalised on screen by Jack Nicholson, in September 2004 in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which won him Best Actor prize in the 2005 Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards. He’s joined in the cast by Matt Smith as Guy and Helen Baxendale as Dawn Lockard, a fellow film producer and romantic interest.

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For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer Dan Wooller was on hand for the Swimming with Sharks arrivals and curtain call at the Vaudeville Theatre and the post-show party at Brown’s Bar and Restaurant along with the company and other first night guests including Naomi Campbell, Penny Smith, Tamara Mellon, Neil Fox, Anthony Andrews, Kelly Brook, Billy Zane, Terry Johnson, the Lord Mayor of Westminster and Stephen Israel, executive producer of the original film. A few days earlier our photographer also sneaked into the theatre to capture the lead actors in action on stage.

Swimming with Sharks is adapted by Michael Lesslie, directed by Wilson Milam and designed by Dick Bird. Also in the company are Arthur Darvill, Elizabeth Croft, Jonathan Newth, Fanos Xenofos and Mark Edel-Hun. The production is presented by Nick Frankfort and Tobias Round (formerly executive producer and general manager, respectively, of the Donmar Warehouse) for CMP, which commissioned the play, and Nica Burns and Max Weitzenhoffer for Nimax Theatres Ltd.

- by Terri Paddock