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Rufus Hound On ... Being the West End Man & hosting the Whatsonstage.com Awards

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Actor and comedian Rufus Hound is about to take over from Owain Arthur as Francis in One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, having played the role on the current UK tour.

The production will mark Hound's second London theatre role following Utopia at Soho Theatre earlier this year.

Hound, 33, is best known for his appearances on TV quizzes including Celebrity Juice, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and 8 Out of 10 Cats. His film credits include forthcoming comedy The Wedding Video.

The role of Francis was created in the National Theatre production by James Corden, in whose footsteps Hound will also be following as co-host (with Mel Giedroyc) of the Whatsonstage.com Awards Concert on 17 February.

Rufus Hound: One Man, Two Guvnors is a very exciting show to be a part of. A lot of people were coming to see it on tour who’d heard how good it was but hadn’t been able to, or couldn’t necessarily afford to, get down to London to watch it. And doing it in their own backyard meant that people were really up for it.

Playing the role in the West End is a thrilling thought, partly because the prospect of doing the show every night is exciting, but also it endorses the feeling that I’m doing a pretty good job with the role. I’ve enjoyed lots of things I’ve done and been pleased with how they’ve turned out but I haven’t really felt as much pride as I feel about this. To feel pride you have to put in some real graft; if you throw things together at the last minute, even if they turn out incredibly well, you can’t really be proud of them. With this, I know that I work my backside off every night when I’m on that stage to get it that good.

I’ve rehearsed with the new West End cast over the past couple of weeks and they’re absolutely phenomenal. It’s a real lesson for me, as I’m fairly new to the theatre game, to see what different casts bring. I think there’s a temptation to think that if you’ve got the same direction, the same outfits and the same script, then there’s not really much that’s going to be different, and yet seeing what different actors are capable of with those moments, with those beats, with those set ups, is really thrilling.

One of the things Edward Bennett, who plays Stanley Stubbers on tour, really instilled in me was to never lose sight of the fact that it’s a privilege to be able to get the reaction that this play gets. Almost every night he walked off stage and said to me, “aren’t we lucky?” An added bonus of working with Ed is that if he ever fumbles over his words, or if I can make him corpse, which has happened once or twice, I get to have this wonderful moment where I get to explain to the audience that he went to RADA and should basically be better than me. I just look at him and say “Hamlet, ladies and gentlemen. Hamlet.”

If I do corpse on stage, I like it to be genuine. As somebody who’s earned a living as a professional comedian, it offends me to pretend that something is funny. I spent ten years of my life actually making people laugh in the spur of the moment, and to pretend that we’re doing that is an affront. So I’ve tried to take some of the more ‘false’ bits out of the show in favour of creating more genuine laughs.

In terms of endorsements of One Man, Two Guvnors, I can think of no higher than this. My mum’s husband has never been to the theatre, he’s a concrete engineer in Halifax. As far as he’s concerned, theatre is not for the likes of him, but there was no shadow of a doubt that he would be dragged by the ears by mum to come and see me in it. At the end, he wiped tears from his eyes and said to me that it was the best night out he could ever remember having. That’s the strength of this play. If you’re just someone who wants a really good night out and a good laugh, it’s the closest thing you’ll get to The Lion King... only without the songs or the puppets.

On hosting the Whatsonstage.com Awards

I’m an enormous fan of Mel Giedroyc. I totally, totally love her and have done for most of my post-pubescent life. When she was on Late Lunch she saw me through many a long day at college, and we watch The Great British Bake Off religiously in my household. We’ve worked together once or twice, and the idea of continuing to do so is a delight. I’m really looking forward to it though I can’t pretend I know exactly what I’m doing. I’m sure that between me and Mel we can keep it entertaining.

There are some great nominees this year, and Owain Arthur is rightly nominated for the Whatsonstage.com Best Takeover Award this year. However, if he wins it then that will surely gazump my chances of winning it next year as it can’t just be handed from Francis to Francis. The theatre wouldn’t know where to put its tiny binoculars. It would implode. So we’ll have to see what happens on the night...


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