Anna Chancellor, Sheila Hancock, Angela Thorne to Star in Last Duchess at London's Hampstead

News   Anna Chancellor, Sheila Hancock, Angela Thorne to Star in Last Duchess at London's Hampstead Anna Chancellor, Sheila Hancock and Angela Thorne will star in the world premiere of Nicholas Wright's The Last of the Duchess at London's Hampstead Theatre, beginning performances Oct. 20 prior to an official opening Oct. 26, for a run through Nov. 26.

Based on the book by Caroline Blackwood, the play is directed by Richard Eyre. Set in 1980, The Sunday Times newspaper plans a Snowdon portrait of the long-reclusive Duchess of Windsor. Lady Caroline Blackwood, novelist, wit and journalist, is sent to the Windsor mansion near Versailles to secure it. She immediately finds herself locked in battle with the Duchess' formidable lawyer, Maître Suzanne Blum. But she soon finds Blum an even more fascinating figure than the Duchess herself. Is this eccentric and energetic French presence determined to protect the Duchess – or perhaps hide unscrupulous manipulation of her money and fame? How did she get power of attorney over the Windsor fortune? And why is no one allowed to see the Duchess?

Chancellor, who plays Lady Caroline Blackwood, has been seen at the National Theatre in The Observer and Never So Good, and at the Donmar Warehouse in Creditors and Boston Marriage. Film roles include "St Trinian's" and "Four Weddings and A Funeral."

Hancock, who plays Mâitre Suzanne Blum, was most recently seen on the London stage originating the role of the Mother Superior in Sister Act. Other recent stage appearances in a long career include Under the Blue Sky (Duke of York's) and Cabaret (Lyric), for the latter of which she won her first Olivier Award at the age of 73. Films include "Love and Death on Long Island," "The Anniversary" and "The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas." She also wrote "The Two of Us," a best-selling two-part memoir of her life with her late husband John Thaw.

Thorne, who plays Lady Moseley, was last seen onstage in The Reporter at the National Theatre. She is well known for her TV roles in "To The Manor Born" and "Anyone for Denis."

The play is directed by Richard Eyre, former artistic director of the National Theatre who also directed the premiere there of Wright's Vincent in Brixton, which subsequently transferred to both the West End and Broadway. His production of Betty Blue Eyes is currently running at the Novello Theatre, and in the fall he will direct Kim Cattrall in Private Lives on Broadway, following a production they did of the play in the West End last year. To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 7722 9301, or visit www.hampsteadtheatre.com.

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