Griffiths, De La Tour, Merrison Exit History Boys, But Shall Return

By Kenneth Jones
June 16, 2006

Tony Award-winner Richard Griffiths will step out of Broadway's Tony-winning Best Play, The History Boys, for one week to honor a film commitment.

Taking his place as the charismatic, broken British high school teacher, Hector, July 18-23, will be National Theatre actor Desmond Barrit, who played the role to acclaim in London.

Producers recently announced an extension of the Broadway production, to Oct. 1, adding a month onto the limited run.

In addition to Griffiths' absence, Tony-winner Frances de la Tour and Clive Merrison (who plays the salty Headmaster) will also step out of the Broadway run, but both will return. On June 11, Griffiths earned the Tony for Best Actor in a Play, and De La Tour won for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

"Frances de la Tour and Clive Merrison were originally scheduled to leave The History Boys on Broadway in July," according to a statement. "With the announced extension, they will now be away from the production from July 12 through Aug. 20. Both actors will return to the show on Aug. 22 for the remainder of the run through Oct. 1."

During their absence, the role of Mrs. Lintott will be played by Maggie Steed and the role of Headmaster will be played by Malcolm Sinclair. Both actors previously played these roles at the National Theatre in London.

Alan Bennett's The History Boys, directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Nicholas Hytner, premiered at the National Theatre of Great Britain on May 18, 2004, where it quickly became a sell-out smash hit.

The Broadway production (winner of six 2006 Tonys) follows engagements around the world. The History Boys is Alan Bennett's first Broadway play in more than 30 years, since Habeas Corpus in 1975.

A UK national tour is expected to launch shortly.

The British actors in The History Boys are appearing with the permission of Actors' Equity Association.

"The History Boys is the thrilling comedy of eight bright, funny students trying to get into colleges and the year that influenced the rest of their lives," according to production notes. "Guiding them are a maverick English teacher, a headmaster obsessed with results and a strong-willed history teacher resistant to change. …The History Boys is about staff-room rivalry, adolescent anarchy and the role of education in our lives."

Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 PM, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 3 PM at the Broadhurst Theatre (235 West 44th Street).

Tickets are available through Telecharge.com or by calling (212) 239-6200, and at the Broadhurst Theatre box office (235 West 44th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue).

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Curtain time for the performance on July 9 is 7 PM.