Mike Leigh's ABIGAIL'S PARTY, Starring Jill Halfpenny Opens Tonight at Wyndham's Theatre, May 18
Starring Jill Halfpenny as Beverly, Joe Absolom as Tony, Natalie Casey as Angela, Susannah Harker as Sue and Andy Nyman as Laurence, Lindsay Posner's production of Abigail's Party opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory in March this year. Tickets for this production sold out prior to opening night, making it the most popular play to date at the Menier.
Mike Leigh's classic play, written in 1977, is set in 1970's suburbia, where Beverly and her husband Laurence are hosting a drinks party for their neighbours. There is plenty of alcohol, an array of cheesey-pineapple savoury bites, olives and Demis Roussos on the record player. As prejudices are unmasked and tempers flare, the evening can only end in disaster...
Jill Halfpenny won a 2011 Olivier award for her role as Paulette in Legally Blonde (Savoy). Other theatre credits include Cora in Calendar Girls (Noel Coward); Roxie Hart in Chicago (Adelphi); and Sonya in Uncle Vanya (Birmingham Rep). She is also well known for her TV roles on EastEnders, Waterloo Road and Blue Murder, and was recently seen as Fiona Lynch in Wild At Heart. In 2004 Jill won the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.
Joe Absolom is best known for his TV roles as Matthew Rose in EastEnders and Al Large in Doc Martin alongside Martin Clunes. He has recently finished filming US television's Civil War series Hatfield & McCoys with Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton. Joe has also appeared in the TV series Ashes To Ashes, New Tricks and Vincent. His films include Extreme Ops (Paramount) and Long Time Dead (Working Title).
Natalie Casey is best known for her long-running roles in Channel 4's Hollyoaks and the BBC sitcom Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and recently starred as Paulette in Legally Blonde (Savoy). Previous theatre credits include The Invisible Man (Chocolate Factory), The Vagina Monologues (Palace Theatre Manchester), Hobson's Choice (Watermill), Well (Trafalgar Studios /Apollo) and Oklahoma! (Chichester Festival).
Susannah Harker is best known for her role as Jane in the acclaimed BBC production of Pride and Prejudice and the TV series House of Cards. Theatre credits include The Little Platoons (Bush), Jingo (Finborough) and On the Shore of the Wide World (Royal Exchange and NT).
Andy Nyman was last seen at the Chocolate Factory in 2011 in the world premiere of Saul Rubinek's Terrible Advice. His other theatre credits include Ghost Stories (Lyric Hammersmith / Duke of York's), Moonlight and Magnolias (Tricycle), Saturday Sunday Monday (Chichester Festival), and Lust (Theatre Royal Haymarket). His films include Death at a Funeral, Severance, The Tournament and Wayne's World II.
Mike Leigh is one of this country's most noted writers and directors on stage and screen. His plays include Grief, 2000 Years and Ecstasy. His television plays include Nuts in May, The Short and Curlies and A Sense of History. He wrote and directed such films as Another Year, Happy-Go-Lucky and Topsy-Turvy, all of which received Oscar nominations for Best Original Screenplay; Secrets and Lies which received Oscar nominations for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture; and Vera Drake, for which he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
Lindsay Posner directs fresh from a string of plaudits for his production of Noises Off at the Old Vic which recently transferred to the Novello (Olivier nomination for Best Revival). Other recent West End productions include Butley (Duchess), An Ideal Husband (Vaudeville), A View from the Bridge (Duke of York's – Olivier nomination) and Fiddler on the Roof (Savoy – Olivier nomination).
Set and costumes are designed by Mike Britton - The Deep Blue Sea/ Nijinsky (Chichester) and Much Ado About Nothing (Globe). Lighting design is by Howard Harrison - Mary Poppins (Broadway/ Australia/ Holland and US Tour), Mamma Mia! (London / Broadway and Worldwide), Anna Christie (Donmar; Olivier nomination), Playboy of the Western World (Old Vic) and Butley (Duchess). Sound design is by Fergus O'Hare - All New People (Duke of York's), Noises Off (Old Vic/Novello), Reasons To Be Pretty (Almeida) and Death and the Maiden (Harold Pinter Theatre).
Opening night is tonight, Friday 18th May at 7pm. The show is booking until 1st September at £12.50 to £49.50 with performances Monday – Saturday evenings, 7.45pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees, 3.00pm. Box Office: Wyndhams – 0844 482 5120.