Food, Glorious, Food! One Man, Two Guvnors, a London Slapstick Hit, Opens On Broadway April 18

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18 Apr 2012

James Corden
James Corden
Photo by Joan Marcus

The Broadway transfer of the popular West End comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, about a manservant pulled between two bosses — and his own voracious appetite — opens April 18 following previews from April 6 at the Music Box Theatre. James Corden (The History Boys) repeats his praised London work as crazed butler Francis Henshall, inspired by theatre history's stock clown character Harlequin.

Producer Bob Boyett's Broadway engagement of the Nicholas Hytner-directed comedy by Richard Bean is produced with The National Theatre of Great Britain, where the adaptation was first seen. The London production continues with a new cast on the West End. Ten members of the original National cast appear in this American premiere, which includes pratfalls, spit-takes, flying food, mistaken identity, audience interaction, original pop songs performed live (eventually, by everyone!) and nimble waiters that would make the late film director Blake Edwards proud.

One Man, Two Guvnors is based on Carlo Goldoni's 1740s commedia-inspired classic The Servant of Two Masters, about a harlequin getting into scrapes while working for two bosses. Corden's corpulent Henshall lights up when money, food or sex is in the offing, usually leading to disastrous results. (The actor has reportedly lost 70 pounds since he first played the athletic role.) There is no such thing as the Fourth Wall in One Man, Two Guvnors. Corden has the audience eating out of his hand; many say he's guaranteed a Best Actor Tony Award nomination later this spring.

The staging has original songs by Grant Olding. Music by a live band and singers play a major role in the buoyant and wild production, which is set in swinging-'60s England where jazz, rock and pop were fusing together. The score includes a "skiffle" element that uses disparate musical instruments (bicycle horns, anyone?) and found objects to flavor the rock 'n' roll.

James Corden and Oliver Chris
photo by Joan Marcus

"I suggested that we re-set it in Brighton in the '60s and refer to all the great English low-comic traditions, which I thought were interchangeable with the great Italian traditions," Hytner, artistic director of London's National, told Playbill.com in recent days. "It's really the same play, adapted very freely. Richard's dialogue is phenomenal, but what you're getting is The Servant of Two Masters, with two scenes transposed just because we put the intermission in a different place. All the shtick, the business, the slapstick, the musical interludes of commedia — they are there in their British manifestations — music hall, variety, farce, whatever."



Read more about how Hytner and Bean approached the 18th-century Italian comedy and reinvented it for today's audiences

The company of One Man, Two Guvnors also features Oliver Chris as "Stanley Stubbers," Jemima Rooper as "Rachel Crabbe," Tom Edden as "Alfie," Martyn Ellis as "Harry Dangle," Trevor Laird as "Lloyd Boateng," Claire Lams as "Pauline Clench," Fred Ridgeway as "Charlie Clench," Daniel Rigby as "Alan Dangle" and Suzie Toase as "Dolly," plus Brian Gonzales, Eli James, Ben Livingston, Sarah Manton, Stephen Pilkington, David Ryan Smith and Natalie Smith.

James Corden is appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association. Oliver Chris, Jemima Rooper, Tom Edden, Martyn Ellis, Trevor Laird, Claire Lams, Fred Ridgeway, Daniel Rigby and Suzie Toase are appearing with the support of Actors' Equity Association.

According to production notes, "In One Man, Two Guvnors, Corden stars as Francis Henshall [the title's "one man"]. Always-famished and easily-confused, Henshall agrees to work for a local gangster as well as a criminal in hiding [ the "two guvnors"], both of whom are linked in a tangled web of schemes and romantic associations... none of which Francis can keep straight. So he has to do everything in his power to keep his two guvnors from meeting while trying to eat anything in sight along the way. Simple. Falling trousers, flying fish heads, star-crossed lovers, cross-dressing mobsters and a fabulous on-stage band are just some of what awaits [in the acclaimed] play…"

Buy this Limited Collector's Edition

The comedy features audience participation, but only if you have seats in the first few rows.

The creative team includes Mark Thompson (set & costumes), Cal McCrystal (physical comedy director), Mark Henderson (lights) and Paul Arditti (sound).

The Broadway production follows a sold-out run that opened at the National Theatre in May 2011; a UK tour; and, a popular run in London's West End that began in fall 2011. One Man, Two Guvnors recently won the Evening Standard and the London Critics Circle Awards.

The play is produced on Broadway by Bob Boyett and the National Theatre of Great Britain. Read more about British director Hytner's Broadway career in the Playbill Vault

The performance schedule is Tuesday-Saturday evenings at 8 PM, Wednesday & Saturdays at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM. Beginning April 24, the performance schedule is Tuesday evenings at 7 PM, Wednesday-Saturday evenings at 8 PM, Wednesday & Saturdays at 2 PM and Sunday at 3 PM.

Ticket prices range from $26.50-126.50. Tickets are available by calling Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7250 or online at Telecharge.com.

For more information, visit onemantwoguvnorsbroadway.com.

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The London cast album of the inbound Broadway comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, featuring the band The Craze performing original songs by Grant Olding, and using original troupers including star James Corden, was released in the U.S. by DRG Records on April 10.

The disc, called "The Craze: One Man, Two Guvnors," has been available in the U.K. The new DRG release features Broadway art and new packaging, DRG president Hugh Fordin said. The discl also boasts an additional instrumental by The Craze entitled "Calypso Jones."

The CD features all 15 songs from the show, performed by Grant Olding and The Craze, as well as original cast members James Corden, Oliver Chris, Daniel Rigby, Martyn Ellis, Claire Lams, Suzie Toase and Jemima Rooper.

Visit DRGRecords.com. For more about The Craze, visit thecrazeband.co.uk. Visit PlaybillStore.com to view a variety of theatre-related recordings for sale.