A Noel Coward play that was banned in Britain, needed riot police to control the crowds in Paris and was a hit in Berlin is coming to Leicester Square Theatre with former Lealands High pupil Paul Vitty in the leading role.
This Was a Man will run for three weeks at the West End venue – and Paul’s hoping family, friends and fellow Lutonians will flock to see him as Edward Churt.
The production is being supported by the Noel Coward Foundation and Paul has raised sufficent funds to enable him to offer free tickets and workshops to sixth form drama students, including those from his home town.
He says: “I first got to perform Coward on stage when I was studying drama at Lealands. We did the famous balcony scene from Private Lives and I absolutely loved it.
“The wit, tension and complicated relationships seemed so relevant and engaging. His plays were like the rock ‘n’ roll of his day – complex love stories with drugs, drink and adultery.”
This Was a Man is Coward at his sharpest, provocative best. His exploration of love, marriage and the shallowness of modern society feels as poignant and pertinent today as when it was written more than 90 years ago – when the then Lord Chamberlain put his blue pencil through the entire script, deeming it far too risque.
Luton Youth Festival founder Paul is looking forward to treading the boards again after spending 12 months directing his debut feature film – Romeo and Juliet – which opened to critical acclaim earlier this year.
He says: “My most recent parts on stage have been big Shakepearian roles like Richard II so I’ve loved doing comedy and this has such a strong cast.
“I think coming from Luton gives your performance an extra authenticity and edge and one of the best things about being in the West End is the excitement it creates for your family and friends. “It’s slightly surreal to think that from loving doing that one scene from Private Lives at Lealands, I’m now going to be the first actor to play Edward Churt in This Was a Man in the West End.
“Being an actor can be an unpredictable and hard path, so the encouragement and support from my friends in Luton has always meant a great deal.”
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