Shane Richie stars as Archie Rice in The Entertainer at the Belgrade Theatre

Stage and screen star Shane Richie is set to take the leading role of comic Archie Rice in a brand new production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer coming to the Belgrade Theatre in October 2019.

Selected by Michael Billington as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, Osborne’s classic story now gets a vibrant new setting for the first time since its world premiere in 1957. Directed by Sean O’Connor, this innovative adaptation transposes the action to the early 1980s, against the backdrop of the Falklands War and the rise of alternative comedy.

1982: Archie Rice is a washed-up entertainer playing a summer season. As his soldier son sails with the Task Force to liberate the Falklands, his daughter Jean returns from campaigning against the war, and Archie’s professional and personal lives collide with devastating consequences.

Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said: “Osborne’s masterpiece was first presented in 1957 and alongside Archie Rice’s failing career, invited the audience to consider its own culture and what it meant to be English at a time of huge shifts within British society. Times have clearly changed, but as our country faces one of the most tumultuous periods since the end of the Second World War, the play once again captures the zeitgeist and is tantalisingly ripe for revival.

“It’s a thrilling play – epic and filled with humanity – and provides Shane Richie with a role he was born to play; we know it will be a hilarious and heartbreaking performance. We are also thrilled to welcome director Sean O’Connor to Curve, whose compelling vision for the play will reveal it afresh to an entirely new generation.”

Shane Richie said, Following in the black patent shoes of Olivier, Gambon, Lindsay & Branagh, it’s an incredible honour to be asked to play one of literature’s greatest fictional characters, Archie Rice. In the words of the great man himself, “you’re a long time dead, let’s just whoop it up!”

Sean O’Connor said, “Osborne’s story of a man who faces the end of his career in the declining days of a popular art form in the context of Britain struggling to establish its place on the international stage has never seemed more relevant or more timely.

“Against the backdrop of the Falklands War of 1982, the satirical new world of alternative comedy has dismissed Archie’s style of humour and his sort of act as old–fashioned and even offensive. The mother-in-law joke has been outlawed and a generation of entertainers like Archie have suddenly found themselves irrelevant.

“At the same time, in the wake of recent abuse scandals, a certain cultural attitude – and a certain sort of man – has been exposed as outmoded and redundant; this is an Entertainer for 2019.

“It’s a tribute to Osborne’s genius that this play resonates beyond the historical moment it was written in and speaks to us directly today with such prescience, power and truth. It’s THE state of the nation play, but it’s also a moving examination of family and failure as well as a defiant roar in the face of the relentless inevitability of change. 

“I’m hugely excited to bring this new vision of one of the 20th century’s finest plays to the stage and completely thrilled to have secured Shane – one of the great entertainers of today – to play one of the most iconic roles in British theatre.”

Shane Richie has balanced a hugely successful forty year career between theatre, film & TV; and he has been a regular fixture on prime time television hosting such shows as Lucky Numbers (ITV), The Shane Richie Experience (ITV), Win, Lose or Draw (ITV), Don’t Forget the Lyrics! (SKY1), Reflex (BBC) and Win Your Wish List (BBC) to name but a few.

His numerous TV drama credits include Oliver Twist (BBC), New Tricks (BBC), We’re Doomed: The Dad’s Army Story (BBC), What We Did on Our Holidays (ITV), The Good Samaritan (ITV), As Good As It Gets (ITV), Skins (CH4), Moving On (BBC), Minder (CH5), Redwater (BBC), Benidorm (ITV), and Claude (Disney).

Theatre credits include the London West End and Manchester production of Grease and One Flew over The Cuckoo’s Nest for a National tour. He stared in the musical Scrooge, and in two American classics titled Lone Star and Private Wars at The Kings Head Theatre London. In February 2019 Shane stared as Hugo/ Loco Chanelle in Everybody’s Talking about Jamie at The Apollo in London. At the Belgrade Theatre, he has also played the leads in Peter James thrillers The Perfect Murder and Not Dead Enough.

Shane co-wrote and co-produced the national UK tour of Boogie Nights which went on to a sell-out season at The Savoy Theatre in London’s West End. Film roles include Macbeth (CH4), The Reverend (Burn Hand Film), Prisoners of the Sun (Miromar Entertainment) and Flushed Away (Dreamworks Animation). In 2002, Shane created the character of lovable rogue Alfie Moon in BBC One’s Eastenders, a role which has earned him several industry awards and many accolades including Best Actor at the Rose d’Or Television Festival.

In 2003, his autobiography Rags to Richie became a Sunday Times bestseller. The same year, he released the number one record ‘I’m Your Man’ for BBC Children In Need, and in 2017, his album A Country Soul was released by Warner Music, reaching number one in the charts and  securing his position as the UK’s biggest selling country artist.

The Entertainer is a co-production between Curve Leicester, Anthology Theatre, and Simon Friend Entertainment.

The show runs at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry 15-19 October 2019 as part of a UK tour.

Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055 or visiting www.belgrade.co.uk where prices are cheaper.

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