Peter Morgan Will Speak of Late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Prior to April 8 Performance of The Audience
By Adam Hetrick
Playwright Peter Morgan will deliver a short speech on the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher prior to the April 8 performance of his new play The Audience at the Gielguld Theatre.
Thatcher, who served as British Prime minister for over 11 years, died April 8 following a stroke at the age of 87. Known as the Iron Lady, Thatcher navigated a controversial political career, and was the first female Prime Minister in the country's history.
In his new play The Audience, playwright Morgan 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. Stephen Daldry directs the play that opened March 5.
Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren reprises the role of Queen Elizabeth II (for which she won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Actress for "The Queen," also scripted by Morgan) in the drama that features Olivier and Tony Award nominee Haydn Gwynne as Margaret Thatcher.
Representatives for the production issued the following statement: "Tonight's performance of The Audience will go ahead as scheduled. As a mark of respect in relation to today's announcement of the passing of Baroness Thatcher there will be a short speech made at the start of the show by the play’s author, Peter Morgan."
Thatcher is also portrayed, in a less than ideal light, in the London musical Billy Elliot, in which she appears as a puppet in "Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher." Representatives for the Elton John-Lee Hall musical have not issued a statement about any amendments or changes to the April 8 performance.
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."
In the play, Mirren is joined by Edward Fox as Winston Churchill (replacing Robert Hardy, who withdrew during previews, citing ill-health), Paul Ritter as John Major, Michael Elwyn as Anthony Eden, Nathaniel Parker as Gordon Brown and Rufus Wright as David Cameron.
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