Helen Mirren Stars in Peter Morgan's The Audience, Beginning Feb. 15 in London
By Mark Shenton
Helen Mirren begins performances in the West End premiere of Peter Morgan's The Audience Feb. 15, prior to an official opening March 5, at the Gielgud Theatre, reprising the role of Queen Elizabeth II for which she won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Actress for "The Queen," also scripted by Morgan.
Stephen Daldry directs the play, which imagines a series of pivotal meetings between Her Majesty the Queen and various prime ministers in their weekly meetings, which have hitherto been entirely secret. According to press materials, The Audience "breaks this contract of silence. From Churchill to Cameron, each Prime Minister has used these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional - sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive. In turn, the Queen can't help but reveal her own self as she advises, consoles and, on occasion, teases."
Mirren is joined by Haydn Gwynne as Margaret Thatcher, Robert Hardy as Winston Churchill, Paul Ritter as John Major, Michael Elwyn as Anthony Eden, Nathaniel Parker as Gordon Brown and Rufus Wright as David Cameron.
Mirren was last seen on the London stage in the title role of Phedre at the National Theatre in 2009. Other recent London theatre credits include Mourning Becomes Electra (also at the National). She began her career playing Cleopatra for the National Youth Theatre, before joining the RSC where she starred in productions that included Troilus and Cressida and Macbeth. Films include "Age of Consent," "The Long Good Friday," "The Madness of King George," "Gosford Park," "Calendar Girls" and "The Last Station." TV includes the title role in "Elizabeth I" (for which she won Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Awards) and "Prime Suspect" (Emmy and three BAFTAs), "Losing Chase" (Golden Globe Award), "The Passion of Ayn Rand" (Emmy), "Door to Door" and "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone." She became a Dame of the British Empire in 2003.
Gwynne previously worked with Daldry on the original West End and Broadway productions of Billy Elliot, in which she originated the role of Mrs. Wilkinson. She has also appeared on both sides of the Atlantic playing Queen Elizabeth I in Richard III for Sam Mendes' Bridge Project.
Ritter was most recently in the National's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, where his credits have also included The Hothouse, The Reporter, The Coast of Utopia, Howard Katz and Coram Boy. He was also seen in the Old Vic production of Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests, which transferred to Broadway's Circle in the Square.
Hardy has played Churchill seven times before on stage and screen, including "Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years" and most recently in Celui qui a dit Non in Paris in French.
Elwyn returns to the theatre having more recently been seen on television in shows that include "The Syndicate," "Da Vinci's Demons," "EastEnders," "Stella" and "Seven Lives."
Parker has appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in the West End and on Broadway. TV credits include leading roles in the BBC's adaptations of "Vanity Fair," "The Nuremburg Trials" and "Bleak House" and for seven years he played the lead role in "The Inspector Lynley Mysteries."
Wright's theatre credits include The 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre, Frost/Nixon and Mary Stuart both for Donmar Warehouse and in the West End and Journey's End at the Playhouse and Duke of York's Theatres.
The Audience is produced in the West End by Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions, Robert Fox and Andy Harries.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 4825130, or visit www.theaudienceplay.com for more details.
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