We Open Tonight!

Photo by Samantha Mighdoll
Photo by Samantha Mighdoll

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That’s me, as Hector, and the boys above.

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Also splendid in the cast are: Rob Donohoe, Cliff Burgess and Angie Radosh, playing respectively: the ambitious headmaster, the new teacher on the block, and the lady who’s seen it all. They are pictured here in their agreeable daytime personas, but trust me, these are fine actors capable of startling transformations as anyone who saw them as the profoundly disturbed and disturbing characters from Dramawork’s last season’s production of Buried Child can tell you.

I find generally that there is a welcome appreciation of British theatrical product in the USA. Enhanced these days by what could be called the Downton Abbey Effect. So perhaps it’s worth mentioning that the last time I was in a play by Alan Bennett was half a lifetime ago in 1993.

It was The Madness of George III, a National Theatre production out of London, UK and we toured for 13 weeks along East Coast USA, completing the tour at BAM in NYC. 

Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren as King George III and Queen Charlotte
Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren as King George III and Queen Charlotte

The film version was (at Nigel Hawthorne’s suggestion) renamed The Madness of King George lest anyone expect sequels. I played the small (but crucial) role of Sir Boothby Skrymshir, and my performance in the film survives in the director’s cut only, but that was the show that gave me a first real look at America.

The amazing Dame Helen has of course lately appeared on Broadway in The Audience giving a stunning performance as the current British monarch. One feature of that show was the impossibly fast costume changes she achieved. Our costume designer is the profoundly talented Erin Amico with whom I had the pleasure to work ten years ago. Though I say it myself, I think this is a terrific production in all its elements, and it’s no spoiler to tell you that although I’m not playing royalty, my costumes in The History Boys include seven bow ties in quick succession.