Cracking cast makes Abigail's Party revival a "must see"
| By London Theatre Direct
Director Lindsay Posner has collected a top-notch gaggle of familiar stage and screen faces who all revel in the chance to re-interpret one of Mike Leigh's all time classics. Ex-Eastender Jill Halfpenny leads the cast but this beloved ensemble piece gives everyone their time to shine.
Following a well-received run at the Menier Chocolate Factory the show transferred to the Wyndhams Theatre on the 15th May for a limited run until the 1st September. The Independent commended the show for being "splendidly cast", deeming the production a "must see", while the London Evening Standard noted that "the cast nail their parts with perfect precision." The piece is already known by many after being immortalised in the BBC tv play that starred Alison Steadman as Beverly Moss. The original play emerged after a lengthy period of workshops with Mike Leigh and the original cast who all but one reprised their roles for the BBC version after 104 performances at the Hampstead Theatre in 1977. The original tv performances by Steadman, Janine Duvitski, John Salthouse, Tim Stern and Harriet Reynolds (who replaced Thelma Whiteley from the stage version) are so well known that they make tough shoes to fill, particularly that of the oft-quoted Steadman's.
is more than up for the task in this latest production and critics have said that she manages to give her own flavour to Beverly rather than just offer a watered down version of Steadman's memorable turn. Halfpenny has carved herself quite a niche as a Jack of all acting trades, with leading tv roles in Eastenders, Coronation Street, Waterloo Road and Wild At Heart. After winning Strictly Come Dancing in 2004 she added well received musical performances to her canon as Roxie Hart in Chicago
and won both a whatsonstage.com and an Olivier award for her role as Paulette in Legally Blonde at the Savoy Theatre. Other West End stage credits include Calendar Girls at the Noel Coward Theatre
is probably best known to tv viewers for her role as no nonsense Donna Henshaw alongside Sheridan Smith, Will Mellor
and Kathryn Drysdale
in BBC Three's longrunning comedy show Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps between 2001 and 2011. She also played Carol Groves in Hollyoaks from its inception in 1995 through to 2000. She will have something to talk about in the Wyndhams' dressing rooms with Jill as she also played the role of Paulette in Legally Blonde after taking over from Denise Van Outen, who had in turn followed Halfpenny's tenure. Other West End performances include Well at the Trafalgar Studios
and subsequently the Apollo Theatre
opposite Sarah Miles
in Fame at the Shaftesbury Theatre. In 1984 she also became the youngest person ever to chart in the UK when her single Chick Chick Chicken reached number 72.
Joe Absolom spent four years playing Matthew Rose in Eastenders between 1997 and 2000, eventually being at the centre of the highly publicised storyline being framed for the death of Saskia Duncan by his so-called friend Steve Owen, played by Matthew Kemp. This led to a Best Actor Award win at the British Soap Awards. He has played Al Large in Doc Martin opposite Martin Clunes since 2004. He has also featured in Vincent, P.O.W. and Personal Affairs. Absolom also came fourth in the first series of survival reality show 71 Degrees North in 2010.
was nominated for a BAFTA in 1990 for her role as Mattie Storin in BBC political thriller House Of Cards, whose character meets a grisly end being thrown off the top of a roof garden by the duplicitous Francis Urquhart. She also featured opposite Clive Owen
in Chancer and played alongside Jennifer Ehle
and Colin Firth
in the star-studded 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice as Jane Bennet. Andy Nyman
directed and starred in the hit show Ghost Stories which played at the Lyric Hammersmith
and Duke Of York's
Theatre in 2010 and 2011. He is also the co-creator and directed of numerous Derren Brown
tv specials and stageshows including The Heist, Mind Control, Trick Of The Mind and Russian Roulette. His sleazy reality tv producer was decapitated and disembowelled in Charlie Brooker's E4 zombie horror drama Dead Set.
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