Former ITV television presenter Matthew Kelly will star in an adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull by Anya Reiss.
Kelly, who is widely known for presenting talent show Stars in Their Eyes, has also had a successful stage career, winning an Olivier award in 2004 for his performance in Of Mice and Men.
He will appear as Dorn in the Russell Bolam-directed production for a four week run at the Southwark Playhouse in November.
Reiss is one of the most promising playwrights to have emerged in the last few years. Her debut play Spur of the Moment, written when she was 17, opened at the Royal Court in 2010.
She won the Most Promising Playwright Award at both the Evening Standard Awards and the Critic’s Circle Awards. Her second play The Acid Test opened in 2011 again at the Royal Court was also a box office sellout.
Her take on Chekhov’s darkly comic masterpiece promises to be “reignited for the 21 century”. The tale, in which the arrival of a success of an actress reawakens the unfulfilled ambitions of her family and friends, has the potential to be enormously prescient in the modern climate of recession and inequality.
News of the adaptation follows last week's opening of modern reinsterpretation of Chekhov's Three Sisters by radical Australian auteur Benedict Andrews at the Young Vic.
The Seagul will be Bolam's second play the Southwark Playhouse this year, following Philip Ridley's Shivered.
Kelly, who presented Stars in Their Eyes for nine years from 1994, trained as an actor at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre. Recent credits include Educating Rita at the Menier Chocolate Factory, tours of Legally Blonde and Spamalot.