Imrie, who will cut short her theatrical engagement as she has been offered a leading role in a major new film, will play Judith Bliss from 23 September until 9 October, with McAuliffe taking over from 11 to 23 October.
“Whilst we are disappointed that Celia Imrie won’t be with us for the entire run,” commented Stephen Unwin, Artistic Director of the Rose theatre, Kingston, “we recognised just how important this film was to her and we wish her well. Celia has consistently supported live theatre and it would have been churlish of us to stand in the way. Hay Fever is, above all, an ensemble piece and we are thrilled that the brilliant Nichola McAuliffe is joining this exceptionally strong company.”
McAuliffe and Imrie share a similar acting CV. Both are probably best known for their work in popular TV comedy series, McAuliffe in Surgical Spirit and Imrie in Acorn Antiques. Both have a wide and varied screen career and have also won Laurence Olivier Awards for their work in stage musicals; Imrie for Acorn Antiques The Musical and McAuliffe for Kiss Me, Kate.
Imrie commented: “I am thrilled to be making my debut at the Rose, and so excited to be in Noël Coward’s fabulous Hay Fever. I am disappointed to have to cut short my run in the play, but am extremely grateful to director Stephen Unwin for his understanding and support.”
Hay Fever tells the story of one weekend in the country home of the Bliss family. Four guests arrive expecting polite conversations and illicit love affairs, but as eccentricities become apparent and confusion mounts, the unwitting guests become desperate to flee.