The comedian Rufus Hound will take on the role which made James Corden a Broadway star when he leads the cast of the hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors during its UK tour later this year.
Hound will take the lead role of Francis Henshall, which was played at the National Theatre and subsequently on Broadway by Corden, who won a Tony award for his performance this month.
The comic, best known for his appearances on ITV2's Celebrity Juice and Channel 4 quiz show 8 out of 10 Cats, admitted that his elevation to the Two Guvnors lead role, was “staggering”.
The stand-up recently announced plans to focus on acting and is currently making his professional stage debut in Utopia at London's Soho Theatre.
Hound’s film credits include My Big Fat Gypsy Gangster and the forthcoming films Wedding Video and Wingman, both scheduled for release later this year.
The Henshall role will be his greatest challenge. Hound, 33, said: “Suffice to say I am on the permanent verge of utter bowel emptiment with excitement. I really don’t know how this has happened, but by god, I’m going to work my tits off to make this the very best it can be.
“It’s a phenomenal show and deserves nothing but my best, my all. So, that’s what I’m going to give it.”
Will the role require Hound to shave off his trademark moustache? “No decision has yet been made, but I reckon it will.”
One Man, Two Guvnors has enjoyed huge success since opening at the National in May 2011, under the direction of Sir Nicholas Hytner.
Written by Richard Bean, the play is an adaptation of Carlo Goldoni's 1746 comedy The Servant of Two Masters and has already toured the UK with Corden in the lead. The show won Best Play at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards for 2011.
Owain Arthur, currently leading the show's West End production, will join the touring version for dates in Wales. The National confirmed that Jodie Prenger, the former BBC talent show winner, who is currently starring as Dolly in the London production, will join Hound for shows at The Lowry in Salford and her home town of Blackpool.
Acting had always been Hound’s passion. “I always thought I would be an actor,” he told Radio 5 Live recently. “The stuff Ioved doing at school was cabaret-style political theatre. But I got a teacher at college who said ‘don’t do it, there’s no future in it’.”
Stepping into Corden’s shows might be seen as a huge risk for the comic but Hound, who quit the Celebrity Juice panel show because he had “lost my way”, had been seeking a fresh challenge.
“I’ve worked with a lot of people who have a very fixed career plan and I see what it does to them,” he said. “It’s only the very best that remain uncontorted by that. I thought I’d just stick to doing things that I enjoyed or felt challenged by.”
The Two Guvnors tour, which kicks off in Leicester on 25 October and will end in Nottingham in February 2013, also takes in venues in Newcastle, Glasgow, Belfast, Norwich and Leeds.
Richard Bean’s award-winning version of Carlo Goldoni’s classic Italian comedy, The Servant of Two Masters is a tale of sex, food and money.
Fired from his skiffle band, Francis Henshall becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe, a small time East End hood, now in Brighton to collect £6,000 from his fiancee’s dad. But Roscoe is really his sister Rachel posing as her own dead brother, who’s been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers.