Former Tiswas co-host and Comic Strip alumni Lenny Henry is to tread the boards again making his National Theatre debut this November in Shakespeare's The Comedy Of Errors.
The comedian has already received rave reviews for his West End debut in Northern Broadsides' 2009 production of Othello, which won him an Evening Standard Award for Outstanding Newcomer. Othello transferred to the Trafalgar Studios from the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and played an extended run there from September to December 2009. At the time The Daily Telegraph wrote "This is one of the most astonishing debuts in Shakespeare I have ever seen. It is impossible to praise too highly Henry's courage in taking on so demanding and exposed a role, and then performing it with such authority and feeling". Similar accolades have whetted the public's appetite for Henry's next theatrical foray.
Dominic Cooke, the artistic director of The Royal Court, will make his National debut directing this new production. Nicolas Hytner, the National Theatre's artistic director hopes that The Comedy Of Errors will particularly beguile family audiences as the show will stand as their Christmas production.
Henry made has spent over 35 years in the business, winning New Faces in 1975 with an impersonation of Stevie Wonder. After honing his act in working men's clubs, it was his wife-to-be Dawn French who encouraged him to move into the burgeoning alternative comedy scene when they met as part of The Comic Strip in 1980. His live stand-up shows that followed introduced the world to characters Theophilus P. Wildebeeste, pirate radio DJ Delbert Wilkins with catchphrases such as "Chill Winston!", and Trevor MacDoughnut, a parody of newsreader Trevor McDonald. These and more would be brought to a wider public in his successful tv series The Lenny Henry Show and it's various offshoots, that ran intermittently between 1984 and 2005. One of the driving forces behind the British Comic Relief charity and it's yearly tv telethons, Henry is regularly on our screens these days in love 'em or loathe 'em adverts for budget hotel chain Premier Inn.
He also provides the voices of Buffalo, Elephant and Cougar in popular children's animated series Tinga Tinga Tales.
[posted by James, 21/03/2011]