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John Hurt and Kenneth Branagh The Entertainer

John Hurt who will star in The Entertainer
John Hurt Photo credit BAFTA Ian Derry

The Entertainer is the final production in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s plays at the Garrick season. John Hurt will return to the London stage for the first time in a decade as legendary patriarch Billy Rice opposite Kenneth Branagh, who as previously announced, will play the unforgettable Archie Rice in Rob Ashford’s production.

Also joining the company will be Jonah Hauer-King as Frank Rice, Sophie McShera as Jean Rice and Greta Scacchi as Phoebe Rice. The Entertainer will play at the Garrick Theatre from Saturday 20th August until Saturday 12th November, with press night on Tuesday 30th August 2016.

Set against the backdrop of post-war Britain, John Osborneʼs modern classic conjures the seedy glamour of the old music halls for an explosive examination of public masks and private torment.

In partnership with Picturehouse Entertainment, The Entertainer will be broadcast live to cinemas worldwide in the autumn. The date of the broadcast will be announced soon. Participating cinemas and further information about Branagh Theatre Live can be found at branaghtheatrelive.com

Rob Ashford said: “I am really looking forward to working on this play. I find The Entertainer riveting and in my opinion there is no better group of actors to bring it to life.

John Hurt said: “I am thrilled to be invited to play Billy Rice in this production of what I believe to be one of the great plays of the twentieth century. This has been a wonderfully successful season for Ken Branagh and his company, and I feel proud and privileged to be joining them.

Greta Scacchi said: “I am thrilled to be working opposite Ken at last! I have known him since the start of our careers 30-something years ago and, although we played husband and wife in a radio play 5 years ago, this will be the first time we are on stage together.

The cinema broadcast of The Entertainer will be directed by Benjamin Caron, who has previously directed the broadcast of the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s production of The Winter’s Tale, and will be directing the broadcast of Romeo and Juliet, starring Lily James, Richard Madden, Derek Jacobi and Meera Syal, on 7th July 2016. Caron has also collaborated with Kenneth Branagh on the forthcoming series of Wallander, due to be broadcast on the BBC in 2016.

The Winter’s Tale, Harlequinade / All On Her Own, Red Velvet, The Painkiller, Romeo and Juliet and The Entertainer make up the seven-play season of work for the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company. For more information please see branaghtheatre.com

Buy London Theatre Tickets

The Entertainer
The Garrick Theatre (Branagh Theatre)
2 Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0HH
Booking From: 20th Aug 2016
Booking Until: 12th Nov 2016
Important Info:
Ticket purchases will be limited to a maximum of six tickets per person across all performances. Tickets will be dispatched 2 weeks prior to the performance.
Audio Described Performance – 7.30pmTuesday 13 September 2016.
Captioned Performance – 7.30pm Tuesday 6 September 2016.

Kenneth Branagh plays Archie Rice. Branagh’s stage acting credits include Another CountryHenry VGolden Girls, three productions of HamletLove’s Labour’s LostRomeo and Juliet (also directed), Public EnemyAs You Like ItMuch Ado About NothingLook Back in AngerA Midsummer Night’s Dream (also directed), King Lear (also directed), CoriolanusRichard IIIEdmondIvanov, The Painkiller andMacbeth (also co-directed). The plays he has directed also include John Sessions’ The Life of Napoleon and Napoleon, The American StoryTwelfth NightUncle VanyaThe Play What I Wrote, and Ducktastic.

In addition to his career on stage, Branagh’s film credits include Henry VDead AgainPeter’s FriendsMuch Ado About NothingMary Shelley’s FrankensteinIn the Bleak MidwinterOthelloHamletThe Gingerbread ManTheory of FlightCelebrityWild Wild WestEl DoradoLove’s Labour’s LostHow to Kill Your Neighbour’s DogRabbit Proof FenceHarry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsAs You Like ItThe Magic FluteSleuth, ValkyrieThe Boat that RockedThorMy Week with Marilyn, Jack Ryan, and Cinderella for Disney.  His television credits include The Billy PlaysThe Boy in the BushFortunes of WarShadow of a GunmanConspiracyShackletonWarm Springs10 Days to War, and Wallander. His writing credits include two plays, Tell Me Honestly and Public Enemy; his autobiography, Beginning; and a number of screen adaptations: Shakespeare’s Henry VMuch Ado About NothingHamletLove’s Labour’s LostAs You Like ItIn The Bleak Midwinter and Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Branagh has received five Academy Award® nominations.

Jonah Hauer-King plays Frank Rice. Jonah has most recently appeared on stage in Simon Stephen’s Punk Rock (Lyric, Belfast) and will be seen later this year in the films Ashes in the Snow, opposite Bel Powley, and The Last Photograph. The Entertainer is to be Jonah’s West End debut.

John Hurt plays Billy Rice. John attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art after studying Fine Art at St. Martin’s. In the theatre he originated the roles of Tristan Tzara in Travesties, Malcolm in Little Malcolm and his Struggle against the Eunuchs and was in the original production of Inadmissible Evidence.  More recent credits include West End productions of The Seagull with Natasha Richardson, A Month in the Country with Helen Mirren, and Heroes, as well as the Brian Friel adaption of London Vertigo (The Gate, Dublin) and Brian Friel’sAfterplay (Dublin and the West End).  His most recent theatre credit was Krapp’s Last Tape at The Gate Theatre in Dublin, the Barbican, the Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles for which he received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award.

He has appeared in over 150 films including Alien, Midnight Express, The Elephant Man, 1984, The Hit, The Field, Love and Death on Long Island, V for Vendetta, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Snowpiercer, Hercules and played Mr Ollivander in the Harry Potter series. John has received numerous awards including 7 BAFTA nominations and 4 BAFTAS including the prestigious Michael Balcon Award in 2012, 2 Oscar nominations, 2 Evening Standard Awards including the Alexander Walker Special Award in 2012 and a Golden Globe. His television roles include The Naked Civil Servant, I Claudius, The Alan Clark Diaries, An Englishman in New York, The Storyteller, The Last Panthers and he appeared as The War Doctor in Dr Who. John has narrated many films (Dogville, Perfume) and television documentaries and his voice-overs for animated films include Pride, The Gruffalo and Watership Down. He voiced the Great Dragon in Merlin for the BBC and has also worked extensively in radio, most recently with Celia de Wolff on War and Peace and Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell. John was recently given an Outstanding Achievement Awards at the recent BBC Audio Awards. He was granted a C.B.E. in 2004 and was knighted in 2015. He is a Fellow of the BFI and Chancellor of Norwich University of the Arts.

Greta Scacchi plays Phoebe Rice. Greta’s previous West End credits include Bette & Joan, Deep Blue Sea, and Uncle Vanya. Other stage appearances include Easy Virtue (Chichester Festival Theatre), Private Lives (Theatre Royal Bath) and The Glass Menagerie (Headlong). International credits for the Italian-Australian actress include The Seagull (Black Swan, Perth) Mary Stuart, Nothing Personal and Old Times (Ensemble Theatre, Sydney), Simpatico and Miss Julie (Sydney Theatre Company), A Little Night Music (Chatelet, Paris) and Vecchi Tempi (Piccolo Teatro, Milan).

Greta has also worked extensively across television and film and has been the recipient of numerous acting awards, including an Emmy for her portrayal of Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna of Russia in the HBO film Rasputin. She has also received Golden Globe, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild nominations. Previous film credits include Heat and Dusk, Presumed Innocent, Beyond the Sea, White Mischief, The Browning Version, Country Life, Jefferson in Paris, The Red Violin, The Player, Brideshead Revisited and The Falling.

Most recently, Greta appeared in The Weinstein Company and BBC production of War and Peace as Countess Natalya Rostova. Her other television credits include Miss Austen Regrets, Miss Marple, Daniel Deronda and Broken Trail. Greta has also recorded numerous audiobooks and radio dramas for BBC Radio 3 and 4.

Sophie McShera plays Jean Rice. Sophie is perhaps best known for her screen work, which includes roles as stepsister Drisella Tremaine in Kenneth Branagh’s acclaimed film Cinderella as well as kitchen maid Daisy Robinson in Downton Abbey (ITV). Sophie has also previously appeared in the long-running BBC drama Waterloo Road, the musical comedy series Galavant (ABC) and sitcom The Job Lot (ITV2).

Sophie’s previous stage roles include Pea in Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem (West End) and as a child, she starred in Annie (West End and UK tour) as the eponymous lead.


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