Helen Mirren Stars as Queen Elizabeth II
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015, The Audience began previews at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The play, written by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Daldry, premiered in the West End’s Gielgud Theatre almost exactly two years ago. It was a huge success, winning several awards including the Olivier Award for Best Actress for Helen Mirren. In June 2013, the production participated in the National Theatre’s NT Live programme, in which it was broadcast live to cinemas around the world. This broadcast broke records, bringing 80,000 viewers in the UK and another 30,000 in North America. The success of this production convinced the producers, Matthew Byam Shaw, Robert Fox, and Andy Harries, to mount it on Broadway, with the same director and several original cast members, including Helen Mirren (Queen Elizabeth II), Geoffrey Beevers (the Queen’s equerry), Michael Elwyn (Anthony Eden), Richard McCabe (Harold Wilson), and Rufus Wright (David Cameron). The play is scheduled for a limited engagement to run until June 28, 2015, with opening night taking place on March 8, 2015.
This production marks the second time writer Peter Morgan and actress Helen Mirren have collaborated on a work surrounding the life of Queen Elizabeth II. Released in 2006, Morgan wrote the screenplay for a film entitled The Queen directed by Stephen Frears, in which Mirren also starred as Queen Elizabeth II. For this performance, Mirren won both the Academy and BAFTA Awards for Best Actress. This is following her success as the title character in the television series Elizabeth I, for which she earned both the Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for her performance. The enormous success of the stage version The Audience has led not only to this Broadway transfer, but in addition a West End revival starring Kristin Scott Thomas at the Apollo Theatre, just two years after the West End premiere, to run concurrently with the Broadway production. The Audience refers to the weekly meetings the Queen was said to have with all former prime ministers from the start of her reign in 1952. The cast therefore includes actors portraying John Major, Gordon Brown, Harold Wilson, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, and Jim Callaghan. The play is a fictional portrayal of these meetings, with each prime minister confessing their deepest thoughts and feelings to the queen in private conversation.
Cast and Creative Team
In addition to Helen Mirren, as well as original cast members Geoffrey Beevers, Michael Elwyn, Richard McCabe, and Rufus Wright, the show will feature Dylan Baker as John Major, Judith Ivey as Margaret Thatcher, Anthony Cochrane as Cecil Beaton, Dakin Matthews as Winston Churchill, Rod McLachlan as Gordon Brown, and Elizabeth Teeter as Young Elizabeth. The scenic design is done by six-time Tony winner Bob Crowley, and the lighting design is by Rick Fisher, a two-time Tony winner. Furthermore, sound is by Tony winner Paul Arditti, and Paul Englishby did the music. The producers, Matthew Byam Shaw of Playful Productions, Robert Fox, and Andy Harries, also produced the original West End run.