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Simon Gray Celebration, Galas for 39 & Bedella

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The late Simon Gray’s contribution to drama and literature will be celebrated next month with an evening of performances, readings and other tributes. A West End Celebration of Simon Gray takes place at the Comedy Theatre on Sunday 15 March 2009.

Among the many stars taking part are Michael Gambon, Celia Imrie, James Fleet, Janie Dee, Anthony Head, Toby Stephens, Edward Fox, Monica Dolan, Michael Pennington and Simon Callow, as well as Felicity Kendal and Jasper Britton, who, that same week, open in the posthumous premiere of Gray’s The Last Cigarette, a dramatisation of his Smoking Diaries, at Chichester Festival (See News, 23 Jan 2009).

The author of more than 30 plays including Quartermaine’s Terms, Otherwise Engaged and Butley, lifelong smoker Gray (pictured) passed away on 6 August 2008 after a battle with cancer (See News, 8 Aug 2008).

A West End Celebration of Simon Gray is hosted by the BBC and Ambassador Theatre Group and produced by Harry Burton. Some tickets are available to the public, priced at £10 to help cover costs, and can be booked on 0870 060 6637.

In other one-off events in the West End, the Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Award-winning comedy The 39 Steps celebrates its 1000th performance next Wednesday 4 March 2009, with a charity gala evening, held in aid of Save the Children’s Gaza Appeal. In Patrick Barlow’s stage adaptation of the John Buchan whodunit, inspired by the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, four actors play “150 roles” between them to tell the tale of London bachelor Richard Hannay fleeing to Scotland and breaking a spy ring to prove his innocence after a woman is found murdered in his home. The current West End cast features Robert Portal as Hannay. Maria Aitken directs. Call 0844 847 4778 for charity night tickets.

** DON’T MISS the chance to celebrate THE 39 STEPS’ 1000th performance with top-price tickets reduced to £25! – offer ends 31 March 2009 - click here for details! **

And, ahead of that, at the Leicester Square Theatre on Monday 2 March 2009, Olivier Award winner David Bedella celebrates his 28th year in showbusiness with an HIV/Aids benefit concert for the Terence Higgins Trust. Bedella is best known to theatre fans for originating the role of the Devil in Jerry Springer – The Opera, for which he won an Olivier for Best Actor in a Musical. The concert, hosted by Christopher Biggins, will showcase songs from Bedella's debut album, The Dean St Sessions, which will be launched on the night. Call 0844 847 2475 to book.

- by Terri Paddock


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