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Beale, Groff and Massey in London’s Deathtrap

Published April 19, 2010

London stage regular Simon Russell Beale is to star in a revival of thriller Deathtrap alongside Anna Massey and Glee star Jonathan Groff. The new production, directed by Matthew Warchus, will open at the Noël Coward theatre in September.

A tale of a struggling playwright whose former student asks for help with a new thriller he is writing and pays an eventful trip to his mentor’s secluded home, Deathtrap was first staged at London’s Garrick theatre in 1978. Though it was soon adapted as a movie starring Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve, this will be the play’s first major London revival.

Beale, widely regarded as one of the greatest stage performers of his generation, is currently appearing in the National Theatre production of London Assurance. Other recent roles have seen him appearing in The Winter’s Tale and The Cherry Orchard as part of The Bridge Project at the Old Vic, playing King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot both in the West End and on Broadway, and starring as Undershaft in the National Theatre’s production of Major Barbara.

Speaking to Official London Theatre about Deathtrap, he said director Warchus approached him about the project after seeing a performance of The Winter’s Tale in New York. “Matthew is one of the most imaginative directors I have ever worked with. He’s an extraordinary man. What he did with [hit revival] Boeing Boeing was spectacular, so I thought okay,” he explained.

Co-star Groff, who makes his West End debut in Deathtrap, played the lead role of Melchior Gabor in the original Broadway production of hit musical Spring Awakening and will soon be seen in the hit musical television show Glee. In addition to Spring Awakening, Groff has also appeared in Hair, The Bacchae and Prayer For My Enemy on the New York stage.

Massey, who was made a CBE for her services to drama in 2005, returns to the West End after a 12 year absence to join the cast of Deathtrap. The actress, whose performances include a BAFTA-winning turn in Hotel Du Lac and the notorious film Peeping Tom, has enjoyed a long career in which she has performed and worked with many of theatre’s greatest names, including Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud.

Deathtrap is produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, who have enjoyed success in recent years with productions including God Of Carnage, Art, Equus, Calendar Girls and The Play What I Wrote. Director Warchus’s previous credits include Boeing Boeing, The Lord Of The Rings and The Norman Conquests.

Deathrap opens at the Noël Coward theatre on 7 September (previews from 21 August), following current hit show Enron which has extended its London run until 14 August and is expected to name a new cast soon.

MA