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January 28: Roger Rees, Carl Barat and reviving Las Vegas

Carl Barat

The Stage, January 28, 2010

After an absence of more than a quarter of a century, Roger Rees is returning to the London stage opposite Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot. In this week’s issue of The Stage, he talks about life in the US, how his painting career is still on hold and why he’s intent on bringing Shakespeare to the masses.

[Shakespeare] was a human being who, if he were around today, would be wearing Levis and writing for television. A lot of it [his one man show, What You Will] is about my journey as a fairly uneducated kid from Wales becoming someone who can act and talk about Shakespeare, and think about the value of language.

I so a soliloquy from Hamlet, I play the nurse in Romeo and Juliet with a country accent, I play Richard II, I play the ukulele, I have a ball. I’ve just finished touring it through the Midwest, playing places like Wichita and Kansas City. They loved it.

Former frontman of the Libertines Carl Barat is starring in Fool for Love at London’s Riverside Studios. While in rehearsals he took the time to speak to us about his first theatrical role and working alongside old friend and co-star Sadie Frost

I did worry if I was stealing some struggling actor’s job, but at the same time, if people was going to come and see it because they know it’s me or whatever and that’s going to pay for the thing, then it kind of works itself out really.

This is the only bit of side-stepping I’ve ever done and I don’t feel guilty about it. I know some people will get pissed off, but we’ve all got a chance to choose our path and I chose music. But I have had a bit of grief about that - you’re taking food off an actor’s table.

Also this week:

  • Las Vegas is the largest theatre city after London and New York, and has been hit hard by the recession, with audiences falling and pressure to offer deals and discounts But the tide seems to be turning - business is coming back and Cirque du Soleil has just opened a $50m show in a new theatre. Alistair Smith reports on the downturn’s impact and the latest developments

  • Whereas the BBC was once the stronghold of radio drama, other means of producing plays are cropping up today, including collaborations with newspaper websites and the creation of online theatre companies

  • Ruth Mackenzie has been announced as director of culture for the London 2012 Olympics, supported by a team of artistic advisers. Michael Quinn looks at the experience they bring to the planning of the Cultural Olympiad and whether it can succeed

  • As Network DVD releases a series of Noel Coward plays from ITV’s archive, founder Tim Beddows talk about the company’s origins and bringing older programmes to public attention once more

  • Backstage: Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre is redesigning its get-in facilities as part of a £2.5 million plan of improvements, allowing it to host even bigger touring shows

  • Despite tougher times for West End shows being predicated after 2008’s record year, 2009 was even more successful - and not just in terms of box office takings. Mark Shenton looks at why London theatre is thriving in the recession

  • Dear John: “It is possible to pursue my own career and still collaborate with other performers?”

  • Showpeople: CP Hallam and Richard Earl, touring in New Perspectives’ Those Magnificent Men; Former Hollyoaks actress Sarah Jayne Dunn, touring in When Harry Met Sally; and actor, writer and director Tom Mallaburn, of forties pastiche show Fitzrovia Radio Hour

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