Brummie bystanders enjoyed a brush with British acting royalty on Tues 15 May as three of theatre’s most iconic stars descended on Birmingham’s IKON Gallery to celebrate the launch of the Olivier Award-winning comedy Art.
The exclusive event saw BAFTA-nominated actor and star of the Academy Award-winning film; Chariots of Fire, Nigel Havers join with fellow co-stars Denis Lawson (best known for his roles in Local Hero and the BBC1 dramas Bleak House and New Tricks) and Stephen Tompkinson, who can currently be seen starring in BBC1 drama The Split, for a morning of creative conversation, quick-fire comedy and immersive art.
The iconic acting trio were invited to ‘brush up’ on their contemporary art knowledge with a VIP tour of Birmingham’s internationally acclaimed art venue, which included a one-on-one viewing of the galleries’ current exhibition by British artists Langlands and Bell; Internet Giants: Masters of the Universe. This was followed by an ‘art to art’ and quick fire q & a with members of the local media featuring hilarious anecdotes from across their careers in show business, their experience of working together on tour and their shared passion for Yasmina Reza’s comic masterpiece.
Described by The Metro as ‘a stroke of genius‘, Yasmina Reza’s achingly funny comedy of male friendship and mutual misunderstanding first shot to fame in 1996, taking the West End and Broadway by storm. Over its twenty year history, the production has won an Olivier, Tony, Moliere and every other major theatre award, and has been packing in audiences worldwide for more than twenty years.
The new touring production, which arrives at Birmingham Hippodrome in just under a weeks’ time from Mon 21 – Sat 29 May is directed by Ellie Jones, with design by Mark Thompson, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound design by Mic Pool, original music by Gary Yershon, fight direction by Terry King and casting by Sarah Bird CDG.
Producer David Pugh said, “It is twenty years since Dafydd [Rogers] and I first produced the comedy masterpiece Art in the West End, and the original post-London tour played for 78 weeks. This time, we want to break our own record; in fact, we want to play as many theatres as Sir Ken Dodd has played in his wonderful career, and with this marvellous cast, we think we have every chance!”
Nigel Havers’s films include Chariots of Fire, A Passage to India, Empire of the Sun and The Whistle Blower. He has starred in many television productions, including The Charmer, Dangerfield, Manchild, and, more recently, the hit US series Brothers and Sisters, Lewis Archer in Coronation Street, Benidorm and Lord Hepworth in Downton Abbey. His numerous theatre work includes The Importance of Being Earnest and Harold Pinter’s Family Voices, both directed by Sir Peter Hall for the National Theatre, Richard II and Man and Superman for the RSC, the hugely successful touring productions of Rebecca and Alan Bennett’s Single Spies.
Denis Lawson is known for his roles as John Jarndyce in the BBC’s adaptation of Bleak House, for which he was nominated for an EMMY award, and as DI Steve McAndrew in BBC1’s hit series New Tricks. In film, his notable credits include the roles of Gordon Urquhart in the film Local Hero and Wedge Antilles in the original Star Wars trilogy. On stage, he won an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance as Jim Lancastar in Mr Cinders at the Fortune Theatre, and he was nominated for an Olivier for his performance as George in La Cages Aux Folles at the Playhouse Theatre.
Stephen Tompkinson’s television credits include five series of DCI Banks, four series of Trollied, seven series of Wild at Heart, six series of Drop the Dead Donkey (British Comedy Award Winner for Best TV Comedy Actor) and three series of Ballykissangel, and his films include Phil in Brassed Off. His theatre work includes Spamalot, Rattle of a Simple Man and Arsenic and Old Lace in the West End, Cloaca (Old Vic) and Tartuffe (National Tour).