John Hurt in The Entertainer at the Garrick Theatre
Anyone hoping for even bigger names to be announced in relation to Kenneth Branagh’s ongoing season at the Garrick Theatre will be right at home this week as it is announced that the acclaimed John Hurt will be taking to the stage in The Entertainer this August, joining Branagh himself in the production directed by Rob Ashford.
John Osborne’s post-war show will also star Jonah Hauer-King, Sophie McShera and Greta Scacchi in lead roles as they portray the characters of Frank Rice, Jean Rice and Phoebe Rice.
Where do you start with an actor like John Hurt? The iconic performer has been seen around the world not only on the stage but in some of the most acclaimed films of the last century, from Alien to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. His distinctive voice and his memorable performances have made him a highly sought-after actor and this has allowed him to appear in west end shows like Afterplay at the Gielgud Theatre, Krapp’s Last Tape at the Ambassadors Theatre and Heroes at the Wyndham’s Theatre. Television fans will also remember his recent portrayal of the War Doctor in television’s Doctor Who.
“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”, he said. “This has been a wonderfully successful season for Ken Branagh and his company, and I feel proud and privileged to be joining them.”
For The Entertainer he portrays Billy Rice, father to lead role Archie Rice, a music-hall performer who is down on his luck. It is set in the post-war era of Great Britain, delving into the world of music halls as we explore both Archie’s life on the stage and at home in his family household.
The play was penned in 1957 and was performed at the Royal Court Theatre, where Laurence Olivier took on the role of Archie, a part he reprised for the 1960 big screen version. The show was also seen at other regional venues across the country.
This time, however, it plays at the Garrick Theatre as part of the season of show’s presented by the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company, with other productions including Romeo & Juliet and The Painkiller, with names like Lily James and Rob Brydon taking to the stage.
But audiences can see Kenneth Branagh and John Hurt in The Entertainer from August.