Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces cast and creative team for
North American Premiere production of
The King's Speech
September 12 – October 20, 2019
Starring Harry Hadden-Paton (Broadway’s My Fair Lady, Downton Abbey, The Crown) as King George VI and James Frain (The Tudors, True Blood, The White Queen) as Lionel Logue
featuring Rebecca Night, Elizabeth Ledo, Alan Mandell, Kevin Gudahl,
Jeff Parker, John Judd & David Lively
Chicago—August 8, 2019—Chicago Shakespeare Theater announces today the cast and creative team for the North American Premiere production of The King’s Speech, beginning September 12 in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Writer David Seidler brings the remarkable true story that inspired the Academy Award-winning film back to the stage in a new production of the play, directed by Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-winner Michael Wilson. Following the play’s North American premiere in Chicago, the production is slated for engagements at other theaters across the country.
Chicago Shakespeare’s production stars Harry Hadden-Paton (Broadway’s My Fair Lady, Downton Abbey, The Crown) as King George VI and James Frain (The Tudors, True Blood, The White Queen) as Lionel Logue—and features Rebecca Night as Elizabeth, Elizabeth Ledo as Myrtle Logue, Alan Mandell as Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang, Kevin Gudahl as Winston Churchill, Jeff Parker as King Edward VIII, John Judd as King George V, and David Lively as Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin.
Before Queen Elizabeth II, her father, King George VI, reigned—the younger son known by his family as “Bertie” with a chronic stammer, never expected to rule. But when his brother David abdicated the throne to wed American divorcée Wallis Simpson, the man who would become king had to rally a nation preparing for war. Enter an unconventional speech therapist named Lionel Logue, who would help the monarch find his voice.
Playwright David Seidler first penned The King’s Speech as a play before adapting it for the film version, which garnered a slew of Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Seidler, who himself overcame a pronounced stutter during childhood, secured the blessing of the king’s widow, Elizabeth, before her death to tell this deeply personal story.
Starring as King George VI is Harry Hadden-Paton, who most recently portrayed Henry Higgins in the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady, for which he was nominated for the 2018 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He is perhaps best known for his roles as Herbert Pelham, the 7th Marquess of Hexham, in the series Downton Abbey and Martin Charteris on The Crown. His West End credits include Flare Path, The Pride, and The Importance of Being Earnest.
Appearing as Lionel Logue is James Frain, who portrayed Thomas Cromwell in The Tudors and was featured in starring roles in HBO’s True Blood, BBC drama The White Queen, and in BBC America’s Orphan Black. He has also appeared in Gotham and Star Trek Discovery. Frain garnered the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performances with the company of The Homecoming and was nominated for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for his performance in Nothing Personal.
Stage and screen actress Rebecca Night appears as Elizabeth. Best known for her title role in Andrew Davies’ BBC production of Fanny Hill, she has also appeared as Catherine Linton in ITV's Wuthering Heights, Sarah Jones in Suspension of Disbelief and Yvonne Moncin in Maigret. Among her many stage roles, she has starred in The Importance of Being Earnest in London's West End and in Chichester Festival Theatre's Grapes of Wrath. Night joins real-life husband Harry Hadden-Paton onstage in portraying the royal couple.
Elizabeth Ledo performs the role of Lionel’s wife, Myrtle Logue. An artistic associate of About Face Theatre and recipient of the prestigious Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship, Ledo’s wealth of Chicago credits include: Tartuffe (Jeff Award for Supporting Actress), The Misanthrope, Titus Andronicus, and Uncle Vanya at Court Theatre; The Matchmaker, Boleros for the Disenchanted, and three seasons of A Christmas Carol at Goodman Theatre; as well as Charm and The Chalk Garden at Northlight Theatre. At Chicago Shakespeare, she’s memorably appeared as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Phoebe in As You Like It, and multiple roles in the epic Tug of War: Civil Strife saga.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang, is portrayed by distinguished classical actor Alan Mandell. Over his eighty-year career in the theater, Mandell has portrayed Shakespeare’s Shylock, Prospero, and Lear, and performed on Broadway, internationally with Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and in London, and on the silver screen. He is considered a foremost interpreter of the works of Samuel Beckett, notably performing in landmark productions of Waiting for Godot, Endgame and Stirrings Still directed by playwright himself. He is a founding member of the famed San Francisco Actor’s Workshop, and co-founder of the San Quentin Drama Workshop.
Jeff Parker performs the role of David—formerly King Edward VIII until he abdicated the throne for love. Parker has appeared on stages across Chicago at Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, and Writers Theatre. Nominated for his performance as Guido in Nine for Porchlight Theatre, he was also a part of the Jeff Award-winning ensemble of Tarell Alvin McCraney's The Brother/Sister Plays at Steppenwolf.
Three-time Jeff Award-winner Kevin Gudahl appears as Winston Churchill. A veteran of more than forty Chicago Shakespeare productions, Gudahl has also appeared onstage at Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and Writers Theatre, as well as in five seasons with the Stratford Festival. John Judd appears as King George V, as well as Director/BBC Commentator. Judd notably appeared as Piet Wetjoen in Goodman Theatre’s The Iceman Cometh and reprised the role at BAM—in addition to multiple credits with Steppenwolf Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare, including Prospero in The Feast: An Intimate Tempest. David Lively performs the role of the beleaguered Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Lively’s credits include the national tour of Twelve Angry Men with Roundabout Theatre Company, Carousel at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and more than twenty-five productions with Chicago Shakespeare, including most recently Love’s Labor’s Lost, King Charles III, Othello, and King Lear. Completing the ensemble are Jeff Diebold, Tim Monsion, and Tiffany Scott.
Joining director Michael Wilson is an acclaimed creative team, including Scenic Designer Kevin Depinet (three-time Jeff Award winner; National tours: Cats, Kinky Boots, On Your Feet); Costume Designer David C. Woolard (Broadway’s First Date, Lysistrata Jones, The Rocky Horror Picture Show – Tony Award nomination); two-time Tony Award-winning Lighting Designer Howell Binkley (Hamilton, Jersey Boys); Projections Designer Hana Kim (Princess Grace Award in Theater Design; Helen Hayes Award); Sound Designer John Gromada (Broadway’s The Trip to Bountiful – Tony Award nomination, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man, Clybourne Park); and Chicago Shakespeare’s resident Wig and Make-up Designer Richard Jarvie. Hannah Wolff is the production’s Associate Director, Christopher Baker is Dramaturg, and Kate DeVore serves as Dialect Coach.
Chicago Shakespeare strives to make its facility and performances accessible to all patrons through its Access Shakespeare programs. Accessible performances for The King’s Speech include:
- Audio-described Performance – Sunday, October 6, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. with optional Touch Tour at 12:00 p.m.
A program that enables patrons who are blind or have low vision to more fully experience live performances by providing spoken narration of a play’s key visual elements. Touch Tours provide patrons who are blind or have low vision the opportunity to experience, firsthand, a production’s design elements.
- Open-captioned Performances – Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
A text display of the words and sounds heard during a play, synced live with the action onstage.
- ASL Duo-interpreted Performance – Friday, October 18, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
All dialogue and lyrics are translated into American Sign Language by two certified interpreters.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents the North American Premiere production of The King’s Speech, September 12–October 20, 2019 in The Yard at Chicago Shakespeare. Single tickets are on sale now. Special discounts will be available for groups of 10 or more. For more information, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com.
ABOUT CHICAGO SHAKESPEARE THEATER
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Barbara Gaines and Executive Director Criss Henderson, Chicago Shakespeare has redefined what a great American Shakespeare theater can be—a company that defies theatrical category. This Regional Tony Award-winning theater’s year-round season features as many as twenty productions and 650 performances—including plays, musicals, world premieres, family programming, and presentations from around the globe. Chicago Shakespeare is the city’s leading presenter of international work, and has toured its own productions across five continents. The Theater’s nationally acclaimed arts in literacy programs support the work of teachers, and bring Shakespeare to life on stage for tens of thousands of students annually. Each summer, the company tours a free professional production to neighborhood parks across Chicago. In 2017 the Theater unveiled The Yard, which, together with the Jentes Family Courtyard Theater and the Thoma Theater Upstairs, positions Chicago Shakespeare as Chicago’s most versatile performing arts center.
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