Benedict Cumberbatch and Joss Ackland at the 2011 Olivier Awards (Photo: Dan Wooller)
Benedict Cumberbatch and Joss Ackland at the 2011 Olivier Awards (Photo: Dan Wooller)

Ackland returns to Old Vic

Published September 4, 2013

Veteran actor Joss Ackland will once again tread the boards of the Old Vic theatre when he returns to the historic venue later this month to star in a rehearsed reading of King Lear in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

The performer, who first joined the Old Vic Company more than 60 years ago, will take on the gruelling title role in the reading that will be directed by the acclaimed Jonathan Miller and boasts an incredible cast list including Tony Britton, Greta Scacchi, Tony Robinson, Michael York, John Nettles, Barrie Rutter, Honeysuckle Weeks, Shaun Dooley, Lee Ingleby, Jack Tarlton, Jos Vantyler, Vernon Dobtcheff and Robert Young.

Ackland’s return to the Old Vic stage on 29 September sees him revisit the venue where he previously appeared opposite stars including theatrical Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. His remarkable career away from the Old Vic has included creating the role of Juan Peron in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita and starring opposite Hermione Gringold in the original London production of A Little Night Music. On screen he has appeared in films including The Hunt For Red October and Lethal Weapon 2. In 2000 his wife of 51 years, Rosemary, learned that she had the degenerative motor neurone disease. She died two years later.

Before the Old Vic engagement the impressive cast, whose credentials range from the Royal Shakespeare Company and Northern Broadsides to Blackadder and Foyle’s War, will present the rehearsed reading at central London’s newest purpose-built theatre, the St James theatre, on 22 September.

At the Old Vic, the charity production joins a feast of Shakespearean drama, as the Driving Miss Daisy co-stars Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones reunite to play Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing directed by the former Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe, Mark Rylance.