Nigel Havers (pictured) will star as Maxim de Winter in Frank McGuinness’ new stage adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s classic 1938 novel Rebecca. The production opens at Newcastle’s Theatre Royal on Thursday 20 January 2005 and then embarks on a 15-week tour, continuing until 7 May, ahead of a planned West End transfer.

Following the death of Rebecca, his first wife, De Winter returns to Manderley, his home on the Cornish coast, accompanied by his new wife. But the second Mrs de Winter soon discovers that the ghost of the seemingly perfect Rebecca still has a strong hold on her husband, his housekeeper Mrs Danvers and others on the country estate.

Du Maurier’s thriller was famously filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940 with Laurence Olivier playing De Winter, Joan Fontaine as the new Mrs De Winter and Judith Anderson as the sinister Mrs Danvers. In the new stage version, Havers is joined by Irish actress Elisabeth Dermot Walsh and Maureen Beattie as, respectively, his wife and servant.

Havers is well known for his TV appearances in The Charmer, Manchild, Don’t Wait Up and Dangerfield, while his films include The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, The Empire of the Sun, A Passage to India and Chariots of Fire. On stage, he’s been seen most recently in See U Next Tuesday and Art.

Irish playwright Frank McGuinness’ other plays include Mutabilitie, Dolly West’s Kitchen, The Storm, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme and Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me. Rebecca is directed by Patrick Mason and designed by Robert Jones, with lighting by Howard Harrison. It’s produced by David Pugh Ltd.

Following Newcastle, Rebecca visits Cardiff, Plymouth, Edinburgh (where it has its national press performance on 14 February 2005), Southampton, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Brighton, Wolverhampton, Glasgow, Stoke, Richmond, Woking, Canterbury and Norwich.

- by Hannah Kennedy