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Stephen Fry, Mina Anwar and James Norton to star in The Understudy West End semi-staged shows

The David Nicholls book heads for the West End!

Mina Anwar, Stephen Fry and James Norton
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Henry Filloux-Bennett's new play The Understudy will be presented in the West End twice next month.

Based on the best-selling novel by David Nicholls, the piece follows a down-and-out understudy who lands himself in a tricky situation.

Confirmed as appearing in the piece are Stephen Fry, James Norton, Mina Anwar, Natalie Casey, Sasha Frost, Marie Lawrence, James McNicholas and Lizzie Muncey – with more to be revealed.

The charity semi-staged shows will be raising funds for Acting For Others, the Equity Charitable Trust and the Theatre Development Trust, run by the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre.

The show has sound, music and effects by Alexandra Faye Braithwaite, Annie May Fletcher and Sophie Galpin, with direction from Giles Croft. Animation is by Dean Kendrick and Mark Kendrick for Dusthouse, while the piece is produced by Huddersfield's Lawrence Batley Theatre.

Croft said today: "Over the past seven months I have watched as theatres, theatre companies and artists have struggled to manage the impact of COVID-19. I have been impressed by their resilience and ingenuity and saddened by the heartache and the loss. Having been through the 'Zoom revolution' we are now entering, tentatively, the era of the socially distanced audience and bubbled actors, which I have no doubt will lead to great creativity and inventiveness, but things will not be the same as they were. 

"Success will depend as much on creating confidence that theatres (permanent or pop up) are safe places to spend time, as much as on the work produced. Having experienced my first visit to a socially-distanced show last week, I am confident that it will happen and very excited that this excellent project, born out of lockdown, is going to play a part in bringing live theatre back to UK stages."

The Understudy runs on 7 and 8 December at 7.30pm at the Palace Theatre, with tickets on sale at 10am.