Odets' The Country Girl Will Tour Prior to West End Run

News   Odets' The Country Girl Will Tour Prior to West End Run Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove will lead the cast of a new production of the classic Clifford Odets play The Country Girl, which will begin performances at the West End's Apollo Theatre Oct. 6 prior to an official opening Oct. 11.

Director Rufus Norris
Director Rufus Norris Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Prior to the West End, the production will begin a regional tour at Windsor's Theatre Royal (running July 21-31), then visiting the Grand Theatre, Leeds; Richmond Theatre in Richmond, Surrey; Shrewbury's Theatre Severn; Milton Keynes Theatre; Nottingham's Theatre Royal; Malvern's Festival Theatre; Birmingham Hippodrome and Brighton's Theatre Royal, where the tour will culminate on Oct. 2.

The play is produced by Bill Kenwright, who in 1983 had his first West End hit with the play, which ran at the Apollo Theatre and featured Martin Shaw as the hotshot director of a new Broadway play. Now Kenwright is presenting the same play in the same theatre with the same star – but this time Shaw is playing the role of former theatrical actor Frank Elgin, starring opposite Seagrove as his wife. Shaw and Seagrove have regularly appeared together in the TV series "Judge John Deed" but are now appearing on a West End stage together for the first time. Shaw's previous role will be played by Mark Letheren in a cast that also includes Nicholas Day, Peter Harding, Thomasin Rand and Luke Shaw. The play is being directed by Rufus Norris, who previously directed Cabaret for Kenwright and whose production of Festen, first seen at the Almeida, subsequently transferred to the West End under Kenwright's auspices.

According to press materials, the play revolves around washed-up actor Frank Elgin (Shaw), a desperate and demanding alcoholic who is offered a comeback chance to star in the next Broadway play by young director Bernie Dodd (Letheren). As the Country Girl of the title, Seagrove plays his long-suffering wife Georgie. Believing that Georgie is the reason for Elgin’s career decline, Bernie strikes up a stormy relationship with the actor's wife - but how far should a woman go to redeem the man she loves?

Shaw's most recent stage appearance was in A Man for All Seasons at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Other West End roles include Sir Peter Hall's production of An Ideal Husband (subsequently on Broadway), Are You Lonesome Tonight, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Odets' The Big Knife. He is best known for his starring roles in such TV series as "The Professionals," "The Chief," "A&E," "Rhodes," "Inspector George Gently," "Apparitions" and "Judge John Deed."

Seagrove was last seen in the West End in productions of two Alan Ayckbourn plays, Bedroom Farce and Absurd Person Singular, with Agatha Christie's A Daughter's A Daughter in between. Other West End credits include The Letter and Hurlyburly. Her film roles include "A Woman of Substance," "The Betrothed," "Local Hero," "A Chorus of Disapproval" and "Don't Go Breaking My Heart." Letheren has appeared in "Wire in the Blood" and "Silent Witness" and in Cloud Nine at the Almeida.

Norris has directed regularly at the Almeida, Young Vic and National Theatre. The play is designed by two-time Tony winner Scott Pask, with costumes by Jonathan Lipman, lighting design by Mark Howett and sound design by Ben Harrison.

To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 412 4658, or visit www.nimaxtheatres.com for more details.

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