My Week: George Wendt

George Wendt Actor, playing Yvan in `Art'
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The Independent Culture
Sunday

I take a pathetic half walk, half jog in Hyde Park. I am surprised no one is looking at me funny. I am self-conscious, but have to get my body going in preparation for my opening night in Art on Tuesday.

I have rehearsed body language to deal with funny looks. It's a kind of shrug that says: "Hey, you've got to start somewhere."

The only ones interested are a few dogs.

I go to see the existing cast in Art with Joe Morton, Judd Hirsch (my co-stars) and my family. My wife, two sons, daughter and niece are staying in London for a month while I do the show.

After the show, I have a few drinks with Judd and Joe. Then everyone, including my family, go to Sheekey's restaurant, across from the theatre. After the meal, we head back to the flat we have rented in Knightsbridge.

Monday

I have a technical rehearsal in the morning and a dress rehearsal in the afternoon. We find we can't remember enormous chunks of the show. It's just a question of kick-starting the brain. The stage here is much smaller than on Broadway, I have to be careful not to fall off.

In the evening, I go to see Rent with my kids. I love the show. It's embarrassing to say how many times I've seen it, the number has gone in to double figures. I've only seen it in London and could have saved myself a lot of money if I'd discovered it earlier in New York.

Tuesday

We have a dress rehearsal at three, with an invited audience. We are still a bit rusty, but the audience seem to like it, maybe because it's free. I don't get nervous before the first performance - it's just like stepping into an old shoe.

We have a party after the show at the Covent Garden Hotel. The cast, crew, and producers are all there, and of course my family. It's not very relaxing watching my 10- and 12-year-old boys so close to antiques. The bellboys look a bit concerned: they're trying to show patrons around, and our raucous party might not be giving the right impression.

Last week we were rehearsing in the same room, shouting and being boisterous. People were looking round the door, too frightened to come in and get a drink. We had to say, "Don't go away - we're only acting."

Although my part as Norm in Cheers did take years of research, I'm trying to be sensible with my drinking tonight because I have a matinee tomorrow. I leave around one in the morning.

Wednesday

I have a coffee before heading to the theatre for the matinee. I don't feel the need for any more jogging because we do plenty of aerobic screaming in the play. Judd is starting to lose his voice. As soon as he starts getting into something, we just say "shut up" to save his voice.

I have a few hours in between shows. I go to buy some coffee and a huge chunk of cheese from Neal's Yard. I bump in to the boys from Rent in Soup Works. We chat for a while but I think they've seen my face on the "wanted- for-stalking" posters.

The evening performance is lots of fun, and Judd's voice seems to have sprung back again. I go with my family to Rules, London's oldest restaurant, and have venison and sticky toffee pudding.

Thursday

Get up around 12:30 to see the matinee performance of Tim West and Prunella Scales in The Birthday Party. I try to interest the kids in some touristy things before doing the show.

I prefer working in theatre to film, I think most actors do. Film is a weird way to work. Cheers was sort of a happy medium. It was shot in front of a live audience, so it was almost like being on stage.

Norm was an amazing part to play, but Yvan in Art gets to talk a lot more. It's odd being the loquacious one for a change.

Friday

I meet with Chris Evans at two to film TFI Friday. Then it's back to the theatre in the evening for another performance. It's been a fantastic week, opening a show in the West End. It's not as hectic as I expected - most of the heavy lifting was done in New York, and so far the kids haven't broken anything in the flat.

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