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Jill Halfpenny Stars in Menier Revival of Abigail's Party

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Mike Leigh's 1977 play Abigail's Party will be revived by Lindsay Posner at the Menier Chocolate Factory, with a cast led by 2011 Whatsonstage.com Award winner Jill Halfpenny in the iconic role of Berverly.

The production, which will open on 8 March (previews from 2 March 2012) and play a limited season through to 21 April, will be the play's first revival since its 25th anniversary production was mounted at the Hampstead Theatre in 2002. The production will also tour to Theatre Royal Bath playing a one-week run from 23 to 28 April 2012.

That revival, directed by David Grindley, transferred to the West End in 2003, running first at the New Ambassadors and then at the Whitehall starring Elizabeth Berrington.

A situation comedy of manners set in "the London side of Essex", Abigail's Party debuted at the Hampstead Theatre in 1977, returning to play a total of 104 performances.

In 1970's suburbia, Berverly and her husband Laurence are hosting a drinks party for their neighbours. There is plenty of alcohol, an array of cheese-pineapple savoury bites and olives, and Demis Roussos on the record player. But as prejudices are unmasked and tempers flare, the evening seems headed for disaster...

Jill Halfpenny takes the role of Beverly. She won the 2011 Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Awards for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her appearance as Paulette in Legally Blonde. A regular on Coronation Street from 1999 to 2000 and EastEnders from 2002 to 2005, Halfpenny is also known for her roles in Waterloo Road, Byker Grove and Blue Murder.

Lindsay Posner recently directed the all-star revival of Noises Off which is currently playing an extended run at the Old Vic. Posner's extensive directing credits including work at the Royal Court, RSC and the National Theatre. He has recently helmed West End productions of Butley at the Duchess, A View from the Bridge at the Duke of York's and Fiddler on the Roof at the Savoy.

Further casting for Abigail's Party is still to be announced.

Filmmaker and director Mike Leigh last year returned to one of his stage works for the first time, directing Ecstasy at the Hampstead Theatre, subsequently transferring to the West End's Duchess Theatre for a 50 performance run. His much-anticipated play Grief, his first new work since 2005, is currently playing the NT Cottesloe where it continues until 28 January 2012.

Abigail's Party has set is designed by Mike Britton, whose recent work includes The Deep Blue Sea/ Nijinsky at the Chichester Festival Theatre and Much Ado About Nothing at the Shakespeare's Globe. Abigail's Party is presented by the Menier Chocolate Factory in conjunction with Theatre Royal Bath Productions.

Currently playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Mitch Sebastian's revival of Stephen Schwartz and Roger O Hirson's Pippin starring Harry Hepple, Ian Kelsey, Matt Rawle, Carly Bawden and Frances Ruffelle continues until 25 February 2012.


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