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Cumming’s Bent Posts Early Closing Notices, 9 Dec

By • West End
UPDATED, Mon 13 Nov 2006 @ 3.45pm: A statement from the producers has now been added to this story. For further comment on this & today’s other big premature play closure, see today’s Other News.

Daniel Kramer’s revival of Martin Sherman’s 1978 play Bent, starring Alan Cumming and newcomer Chris New, has posted early closing notices at the West End’s Trafalgar Studios. It opened on 5 October 2006 (previews from 22 September) and had been booking until 13 January 2007. It will now close on 9 December 2006 after a 12-week run.

In Nazi Germany, homosexual Max (Cumming) is sent to Dachau, his lover killed en route. At the concentration camp, he denies being gay, preferring to wear the yellow star of the Jews, but when he falls in love with fellow prisoner Horst, he must make a stand. Ian McKellen originated the part of Max at the Royal Court and reprised it at the National Theatre in 1990. The 1980 Broadway premiere was led by Richard Gere as Max, a part played by Clive Owen in the 1997 film.

Kramer’s new production marked the West End return for Cumming. Since his 1998 success with Sam Mendes’ Donmar staging of Cabaret - which he accompanied, with Tony Award-winning success, to Broadway - Cumming has been largely based in the US. His other stage credits include Conquest of the South Pole, La Bete, Hamlet and Accidental Death of an Anarchist in London and Design for Living and The Threepenny Opera in New York.

Recent RADA graduate Chris New was last week shortlisted for this year’s Evening Standard Outstanding Newcomer Award for his West End debut playing Horst (See News, 9 Nov 2006). Also in the Bent cast are Richard Bremmer (Greta), Kevin Trainor (Rudy), Hugh Ross (Freddie) and Benjamin Wilkin (Wolf), with Ricky Champ, Charles Mayer, Matthew Spencer and Laurence Spellman.

For this production, the Pet Shop Boys’ Chris Lowe provided new orchestrations for the song “Streets of Berlin”. Bent is presented in the West End by Sonia Friedman Productions, Mark Rubinstein, Tulchin/Bartner Productions and Bob Boyett.

According to a statement from the producers: “After a 12-week run at the Trafalgar Studios, Bent, which continues to receive great audience response and standing ovations, will complete its run slightly earlier than planned. In this competitive West End climate, which is offering a huge range of new musicals combined with the run-up to Christmas, the theatre owner and producers have reluctantly had to make this difficult decision in order to make way for a new production.”

Bent will be followed by the stage adaptation of the TV comedy, The New Statesman, starring Rik Mayall as politician Alan B’Stard. It starts performances on 13 December 2006 (See Today’s Other News).

- by Terri Paddock


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