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Richard Schiff Joins Tom Conti in Menier SMASH!

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Four years after making his West End debut in one-man show Underneath the Lintel, The West Wing’s Richard Schiff will return to the London stage this month to star alongside Tom Conti in the London premiere of the late Jack Rosenthal’s 1981 play SMASH! at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Schiff replaces Kerry Shale, who, according to the press release, has withdrawn due to “personal reasons”. Shale was in the cast of the short-lived West End musical Bar Mitzvah Boy which inspired the play. SMASH! runs at the 150-seat Menier from 31 March to 8 May 2011 (previews from 24 March).

In SMASH! , Rosenthal, the late husband of actress Maureen Lipman and father of playwright Amy Rosenthal, offers a "hilarious but scathing look" at the journey of bringing a musical to the stage. It’s based on the experiences the TV dramatist had turning his BAFTA-winning television play Bar Mitzvah Boy into a musical.

That show opened at the West End’s Her Majesty's Theatre in October 1978 but ran for just 78 performances. SMASH! was subsequently produced at Richmond Theatre in 1981 but has been rarely seen since.

Richard Schiff is best known as White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler in the American TV series The West Wing, for which he won an Emmy Award. His film credits include the films Johnny English: Reborn, Made in Dagenham, The Infidel, Seven, City Hall, Malcolm X, Hoffa, Michael, Jurassic Park, Deep Impact, Dr Doolittle, Heaven and Forces of Nature. Schiff began his career as a theatre director in New York, founding the Manhattan Repertory Theatre. After becoming an actor and moving to Los Angeles, he joined Tim Robbins’ Actors Gang and appeared in productions including Goose, Tom Tom and Urban Folktales.

The cast of SMASH! also features Natalie Walter, Cameron Blakely and Josh Cohen. The new production is directed by Tamara Harvey and designed by Paul Farnsworth, with lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by Gareth Owen.


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