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Swan Song, a one-man play starring TV and stage actor Andrew Lancel, is directed by BAFTA award-winning director Noreen Kershaw and produced by Bill Elms.
The play will open at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre for six performances over three nights, this will be the first live performances at the theatre since closing in March. The show then moves on to The Atkinson Southport, Lighthouse Poole, Swan Theatre Worcester, Belgrade Coventry, Dukes Lancaster, City Varieties Leeds, and Capitol Horsham. All venues will present to socially distanced audiences and more dates are to be confirmed soon.
Swan Song was first staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1997, before transferring to Hampstead Theatre with award-winning comedy actress Rebecca Front in the lead role. Jonathan Harvey adapted the 70-minute play especially for Liverpool Theatre Festival for Andrew Lancel to play the solo role of Dave Titswell. Due to critical acclaim, the play will now perform at venues across the UK next year, these new dates replaced the November 2020 dates which were cancelled due to lockdown, now a longer tour is planned for Spring 2021.
The news also comes as Andrew Lancel is set to have an appearance in the Royal Variety Performance, which is televised on Tuesday 8 December. Andrew appears as Brian Epstein in Cilla The Musical, he also played Brian in Epstein The Man Who Made The Beatles in 2012, where Andrew Lancel first met Bill Elms who produced the play in Liverpool and London’s West End.
“Swan Song is a funny, clever and inspiring production which opened the inaugural Liverpool Theatre Festival. Andrew Lancel, Jonathan Harvey, and Noreen Kershaw are an incredible blend of creative talent, and the play went down a storm in Liverpool. It is such a lovely piece that I approached Andrew and the team with the idea to tour. People are excited for the return of live theatre – and we’re excited to give them that experience back after such a long time with a really special production.”
Swan Song is a bittersweet comedy written by Jonathan Harvey. Set in Liverpool, it is Christmas 1997, the world is changing and in the staff room, Gay, forty-something, English teacher Dave Titswell finds that not all change is welcome. He has a crush, but life, love, and work are never straight forward for Dave. Will a school trip to The Lakes change things for the better, or make things decidedly worse? Swan Song will make audiences laugh, but equally pull at the heartstrings. Everyone knows someone like Dave – or could even be a Dave themselves.
Andrew Lancel is no stranger to audiences. Well established on the national theatre scene, Andrew is also widely known for his television roles as DI Neil Manson in The Bill and super-villain Frank Foster in Coronation Street. He has twice played Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein on stage to great critical acclaim, first in Epstein – The Man Who Made The Beatles (also produced by Bill Elms) which premiered in Liverpool and went on to play London’s West End, as well as playing Epstein in the national tour of Cilla The Musical, Bill Kenwright’s stage adaptation of the TV series written by Jeff Pope.
“The last play I saw before lockdown was Jonathan Harvey’s Our Lady of Blundellsands at The Everyman Liverpool, which I loved – so it’s very cool, and a little ironic, that my first play back is with Jonathan. We have known each other for years and worked together a lot but never on stage, so it’s humbling that he has adapted this play for me. It’s very funny, moving, and I think people will really relate to it today. His characters are literally gifts to play and to watch.
“This play is about reuniting too. Reuniting theatre and audiences with live performance is extra special. To be back with Epstein producer Bill Elms is a buzz, and I’ve worked on some very serious storylines on Corrie with Noreen Kershaw. It feels like coming home for us all in so many ways.”
Award-winning Jonathan Harvey’s credits include Gimme Gimme Gimme; Murder Most Horrid; Coronation Street; Call The Midwife; and Tracey Ullman’s Show. His plays include Beautiful Thing, Corrie, Canary, Hushabye Mountain, Babies, Boom Bang A Bang’ and Rupert Street Lonely Hearts Club. He also wrote the 2001 stage musical Closer to Heaven with the Pet Shop Boys and its sequel Muzik. He has won the John Whiting Award, the George Devine Award, two Manchester Evening News Awards, an Evening Standard Award, two British Soap Awards and a Writers Guild of Great Britain Award.
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“Swan Song is a comedy about a teacher who’s trying to hold onto his dignity while the education system crumbles around him – and I’m thrilled Andrew is playing Dave. I’m delighted to also be working with Noreen again, she directed many of my Corrie scripts and my last episode of Call The Midwife. As the original Shirley Valentine, Noreen definitely knows a thing or two about one-person shows.”
Noreen Kershaw’s directing credits include Our Girl, Moving On, Scott & Bailey, Emmerdale, Shameless, Heartbeat and Coronation Street. She is also known for acting in Life On Mars, Brookside, and Watching. Noreen also originated the title role of Willy Russell’s Shirley Valentine at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre.
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