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Ashley Jensen and Rob Brydon line up for Trevor Nunn's A Chorus of Disapproval

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ASHLEY Jensen (pictured), Rob Brydon and Nigel Harman will be directed by Trevor Nunn in a revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s A Chorus of Disapproval opening at the Harold Pinter Theatre later this year.

Joining the trio on stage will be Teresa Banham, Daisy Beaumont, Georgia Brown, Rob Compton, Matthew Cottle and Steven Edis, who is also the show’s musical director. Further casting will be announced shortly.

Tickets go on sale today (June 28, 2012) for the run which begins previews on September 17, 2012 with booking open until January 5, 2013.

This production continues Sonia Friedman’s collaboration with Ayckbourn, having previously presented his Absent Friends at the Harold Pinter Theatre and his The Norman Conquests on Broadway.

As with all SFP productions there will be a range of accessible seat prices, which will include over one hundred £10 seats for every performance, many bookable in advance.

A Chorus of Disapproval picks up as the Pendon Amateur Light Operatic Society’s production of The Beggar’s Opera is going off the rails… until that is a handsome but shy young widower Guy (Harman) joins the group.

An instant hit with the company’s ferociously zealous director Dafydd (Brydon) and the show’s leading ladies, including Dafydd’s wife Hannah (Jensen), Guy soon gets more than he bargained for as he discovers that all the best action happens off-stage.

Classic songs fill the air as the drama on stage is mirrored by the romantic rivalry and small town squabbles causing a stir in the wings of this ambitious local show.

British Comedy and BAFTA award-winning Ashley Jensen (Hannah Llewellyn) returns to the theatre having recently enjoyed a hugely successful career on television playing Maggie opposite Ricky Gervais in Extras, for which she was also Emmy nominated.

She is also well known for playing Christina McKinney in ABC’s Ugly Betty and Olivia in the CBS sitcom Accidentally on Purpose.

Having trained with the National Youth Theatre her previous theatre credits include Attempts on Her Life, Uganda and Storming for the Royal Court and King Lear and Howard Katz for the Royal Exchange Theatre as well as many productions for Glasgow Citizen’s and Tron Theatres.

Her recent film credits include The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists, Arthur Christmas, Gnomeo and Juliet, A Cock and Bull Story and Topsy Turvy.

Rob Brydon (Dafydd ap Llewellyn) will be making his West End acting debut in A Chorus of Disapproval. He studied at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama before joining BBC Wales as a radio and television presenter.

He first came to the public’s attention in 2000 with the television shows Marion and Geoff and Human Remains, winning British Comedy Awards for both.

Since then his extensive comedy credits have included I’m Alan Partridge, Little Britain, Live at the Apollo, Rob Brydon’s Annually Retentive, QI, Have I Got News For You, Gavin and Stacey, for which he was BAFTA nominated, Rob Brydon’s Identity Crisis, The Trip and Would I Lie To You?

On film he has been seen in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, 24 Hour Party People, MirrorMask, A Cock and Bull Story and the big screen version of The Trip.

He will shortly star in the BBC Paralympic drama Best of Men alongside Eddie Marsan which will air mid August ahead of the Paralympic Games.

The 90-minute feature tells the story of Dr Ludwig Guttmann, a German doctor whose use of sport to treat patients in the 1940s led to the birth of the Paralympics.

Nigel Harman (Guy Jones) won a 2012 Laurence Olivier award and Whatsonstage award for his portrayal of Lord Farquaad in Shrek The Musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

His other theatre credits include Harold Pinter’s Celebration for the Gate Theatre, Dublin, Sam Shepard’s True West for Sheffield Theatres, Public Property at the Trafalgar Studios, Three Days of Rain at the Apollo Theatre, The Common Pursuit for the Menier Chocolate Factory, The Caretaker for Sheffield Theatres/Tricycle, The Exonerated at Riverside Studios and Privates on Parade at the Donmar Warehouse.

His other musical theatre credits include Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre, Eddie in Mamma Mia at the Prince Edward Theatre and Mickey in Damn Yankees at the Adelphi Theatre.

On television Harman played Dennis Rickman in the BBC soap EastEnders and Sam in Hotel Babylon as well as roles in Miss Marple, City of Vice, The Outsiders and Plus One.

Teresa Banham (Enid Washbrook) has previously worked with Trevor Nunn on both Measure for Measure and Blue Angel at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Her other stage credits include playing the title role in Anna Karenina for Shared Experience, for which she won the Evening Standard and London Fringe awards for Best Actress and The Heresy of Love and The White Devil and The Herbal Bed also for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Daisy Beaumont’s (Fay Hubbard) theatre credits include Enlightenment for Hampstead Theatre, Boeing-Boeing at the Comedy Theatre, Alan Ayckbourn’s Virtual Reality for the Stephen Joseph Theatre as well as Private Lives and The Twelve Pound Look also for the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

Her television credits include Star Stories, A Touch of Cloth, Great Night Out, The Border and New Tricks, while her film credits include Foster, Swinging with the Finkels and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.

Georgia Brown (Bridget Baines) trained at LAMDA and most recently appeared in New Cross, one of Touchpaper Television’s Coming Up films for Channel 4. She has also appeared in The Bill for ITV and has performed her own show on the Edinburgh Fringe and the London comedy circuit. A Chorus Of Disapproval marks her West End debut.

Rob Compton’s (Crispin Usher) theatre credits include Christmas in New York at the Prince of Wales Theatre, the UK tour of All The Fun of the Fair, As You Like It and Merlin and the Woods of Time for Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, the English Touring Theatre’s production of Great Expectations at the Watford Palace and A Christmas Carol at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Matthew Cottle (Ted Washbrook) has worked extensively with Alan Ayckbourn, recently appearing in his productions of Neighbourhood Watch and Dear Uncle for the Stephen Joseph Theatre and Taking Steps at the Orange Tree. On television he is probably best known for playing Martin in the cult 90’s comedy, Game On, while film credits include Blessed, Bright Young Things and Chaplin.

Steven Edis (Mr Ames) is also the Musical Director for A Chorus of Disapproval and has composed and arranged music for film, television and theatre.

His recent theatre credits include The Lion In Winter, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Flare Path for the Trevor Nunn season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, Birdsong at the Harold Pinter Theatre, Inherit The Wind and The Entertainer for the Old Vic, Cyrano de Bergerac and The Music Man for Chichester Festival Theatre and The Merchant of Venice and The Royal Hunt of the Sun for the National Theatre.

The world premiere of A Chorus of Disapproval was directed by Alan Ayckbourn at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough in 1984 with a cast including Lenox Greaves, Russell Dixon and Alwyne Taylor.

The London premiere at the National Theatre in 1985, also directed by Ayckbourn, starred Bob Peck, Michael Gambon and Imelda Staunton. The production then transferred to the West End the following year.

Designs are by Rob Jones, with lighting by Tim Mitchell and sound by Fergus O’Hare.