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Cast: Allen & Shearsmith's Comedians, Inspector

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Keith Allen, Kulvinder Ghir and The League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith will join Matthew Kelly in the cast of next month’s Lyric Hammersmith revival of Trevor Griffiths’ 1975 play Comedians, which marks Sean Holmes directorial debut as the theatre’s new artistic director (See News, 3 Jun 2009). The production runs from 14 October to 14 November 2009 (previews from 7 October).

Six wannabe comedians attend an evening class at a school in Manchester in preparation for a performance in front of London agent. Faded music hall star acts Eddie Waters acts as their tutor, in an age when comedians wore dicky bows and political correctness was decades away.

The premiere production, seen in London at the National Theatre, starred Jimmy Jewel as Eddie and Jonathan Pryce as aspirant Gethin Price. Pryce later reprised his role in the show’s Broadway transfer. There hasn’t been a major London production of Comedians in nearly 20 years, though Holmes did revive in a 2001 tour that starred Ron Moody as Eddie and David Tennant as Gethin.

As previously announced, Holmes’ new staging is led by Matthew Kelly as Eddie with David Dawson as Gethin and Mark Benton as Ged Murray. Keith Allen, whose most recent stage appearance was last Christmas in Holmes’ West End production of Treasure Island, is Bert Challoner, with Kulvinder Ghir (Goodness Gracious Me on TV, Midnight’s Children, Small Miracles on stage) as Mr Patel and Reece Shearsmith (The Producers, As You Like It on stage) as Phil Murray.

Also in the cast are Billy Carter (as George McBrain), Michael Dylan (Mick Connor), Simon Kunz (Sammy Samuels) and Paul Rider (Caretaker/Concert Secretary). The production is designed by Anthony Lamble, with lighting by Simon Bennison and sound by Nick Manning.

In other recent play casting news:

  • Nicholas Woodeson will lead the cast for An Inspector Calls’ return to the West End, playing Inspector Goole in Stephen Daldry's multi award-winning neo-expressionistic production of JB Priestley's classic 1946 thriller, which has a limited season from 25 September to 14 November 2009 (previews from 22 September) at the Novello Theatre (See News, 20 May 2009). Woodeson is joined in the cast by David Roper, Sandra Duncan, Marianne Oldham, Robin Whiting, Timothy Watson andDiana Payne Myers.
  • Matthew Burton and Stephen Hagan play George and John, two men from vastly different backgrounds who fall in love in 1960s Yorkshire in the first major revival of Peter Gill’s The York Realist, which runs from 23 September to 11 October (preview 22 September) at west London’s Riverside Studios, where Gill was the founding director in 1976 (See News, 6 Aug 2009). The production, which is the first Gill play at Riverside since 1980, celebrates the playwright’s 70th birthday. The cast also includes Jack Blumeneau, Stephanie Fayerman, Fiona Gordon, Sam Hazeldine and Sarah Waddell. Adam Spreadbury-Maher directs.
  • And, at the West End’s Noel Coward theatre, the current, second cast of Calendar Girls - led by Anita Dobson, Jill Baker, Jill Halfpenny, Gemma Atkinson, Sara Crowe and June Brown and Jerry Hall - have extended their run by a fortnight to 31 October (See News, 29 May 2009). Tim Firth’s adaptation of the 2003 Miramax film Calendar Girls, for which he also wrote the screenplay, tells the real-life story of the members of a Yorkshire chapter of the Women’s Institute who decide to pose nude for a charity calendar.
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