New York hit show Celebrity Autobiography arrives in West End
Friday 01 October 2010
Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Take a stack of well-thumbed memoirs, a cast of comedians and actors, and lashings of deadpan delivery, and you have the makings of a cult hit. Fresh from a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, the New York hit show Celebrity Autobiography arrives in the West End next week, giving UK audiences another chance to marvel at the writerly pretensions of the rich and famous, or at least infamous .
"We couldn't make this stuff up", says Eugene Pack, the Emmy-nominated creator of the show. "Every single word was written by them. The more mundane it is, the better." Pack had the idea a decade ago when he came across the memoirs of Vanna White, best known as the "puzzle-board turner" on Wheel of Fortune. "There was a whole chapter on how challenging it is to flip the panels. I just started reading it out in a deadpan voice; it was hilarious." From a one-off comedy night in LA, featuring the musings of Diana Ross and Mr T, the show has gone on to enjoy three sold-out years at the Triad Theatre off-Broadway and has been filmed for television, while Brooke Shields, Ryan Reynolds and Matthew Broderick have all dropped in to perform.
The Edinburgh cast included Ugly Betty's waspish Michael Urie, who returns for the London run alongside comedians Doon Mackichan and Rufus Hound while Pack is keen to invite some high-profile stars – Stephen Merchant and David Tennant are high on his list – for guest spots at what he hopes will become a monthly night. Having already trawled 300 autobiographies, he's unlikely to run out of material any time soon. Might he find space for a snippet from the hottest political memoirs of the year? "I honestly don't think we'll do Tony Blair. I don't want to get things thrown at us."
Leicester Square Theatre, London (www.leicestersquaretheatre.com) 4 to 9 October, then 8 Nov, 13 Dec, 10 Jan
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 5 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview is finally released after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food