The Crown

The Crown
Hansard, from 22 August at the National Theatre!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Alex read T.S. Eliots Ash-Wednesday at Southward Cathedral on 20 November. Faber and Faber just published some video footage on Twitter:

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Piazza Rehearsal Footage


WTTW news has some interview and rehearsal footage for "The Light in the Piazza" at the WTTW website.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Friday, December 06, 2019

Chicago

Alex is in Chicago preparing for the run of The Light in the Piazza.





Friday, November 22, 2019

Julie Andrews

Fane Productions posted some lovely pictures of the Julie Andrews interview in the Royal Festival Hall:

Creative Folkestone

Great pictures of Alex by Philip Panting taken at the Creative Folkestone festival:





Thanks to Kate!

About Ted Day


Alex talks about his role in the new BBC series Gold Digger:

"I also seem to have been on a bit of a roll playing various forms of sleazebags recently, and Ted was a fresh and new version of that, he is much more complicated than simply being a bad guy. There were moments in the writing that allowed me to understand the complexity of the pain this character was in. He has some serious anger issues but it wasn’t black and white in the scripts, so I felt there was something quite complex to explore within him, which was exciting."

The full interview is on the BBC website.

Thanks to Kate!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Siskel Film Center Q&A

Alex will appear at the Siskel Film Center in Chicago on 6 December after an encore showing of Hansard. He will answer questions about his career.

More information and tickets at Siskel Film Center.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Hastings International Piano Festival


Alex will appear with Lucy Parham and Patricia Hodge at the Hastings International Piano Festival on 1 March 2020. They will perform "Nocturne", the programme about Frédéric Chopin. Rufus Wainwright is on the same bill, performing on 28 February.


More information and tickets at the website for the Hastings Festival.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Gold Digger


The new drama series Gold Digger has started on BBC One. Alex plays Ted, the leading character's ex-husband. More information on the characters at BT.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Crown Does Red Nose Day

Apparently there was a party...







Essential Classics

Alex appeared on Essential Classics on BBC Radio 3 all of last week.



The episodes are available at: Essential Classics.

Julie Andrews

Matthew Bourne attended the interview at the South Bank Centre and posted this picture:

Wide Sargasso Sea


Alex will be reading excerpts of Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys with Imogen Stubbs at Creative Folkestone this Sunday afternoon.

More information and tickets at Creative Folkestone.

Ash-Wednesday

Alex will read T.S. Eliots Ash-Wednesday at Southward Cathedral on 20 November!

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Julie Andrews

Alex talked to Julie Andrews about her career at the South Bank Centre today. Alex and Dame Julie worked together on the Australian production of My Fair Lady. A short report is at BT

Gold Digger



Gold Digger starts on Tuesday 12 November, 9 p.m. There are six episodes.

Thanks to Natasha.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Metro Interview

Hugh Montgomery interviews Alex for Metro on his return to the stage and his recent screen work.


Read the interview at Metro.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Return to the Piazza


Alex will join Renée Fleming on the "Light in the Piazza" tour to Chicago's Lyric Opera House in December. He will also join the show in Sydney in August 2020.


For more details see Broadway.com.

Tickets for the Sydney show at Sydney Opera House.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Hansard Reviews


The first reviews for Hansard are in. They tend to have reservations about the play, but high praise for both actors!

In the Evening Standard Nick Curtis writes:

"The bulk of the 90-minute running time, with a Thatcherite MP and his wife at war in the Cotswolds, exchanging insults like fighting cocks, is elevated by Lindsay Duncan and Alex Jennings, both on beady, withering form."

Full review at Evening Standard



In The Telegraph Dominic Cavendish writes:

"Jennings, ramrod-backed and vaguely ruddy-cheeked, is good at suggesting a concertedly bluff attitude that’s also a lordly, controlling condescension."

Full review at The Telegraph.



In the Guardian Michael Billington writes:

"Jennings has the trickier task in that it is hard to sympathise with his character’s air of misogynistic entitlement. He is forever putting down his wife, dislikes drama and fiction because “the people who in real life contribute the absolute least get all the sympathy”, and takes predictable pot-shots at the Guardian for its mix of “righteous indignation and typographical inaccuracy”. Yet Jennings suggests that Robin’s patrician superiority conceals a vulnerable, emotionally wounded human being."

Full review at The Guardian.



Sarah Crompton, Whatsonstage:

"As Robin, Jennings gets a lot of the best lines, and some of the best arguments; he is no cardboard Tory, set up to be hated. But what's extraordinary is the depth of feeling he finds and conveys. At the close, as the terrible, sad, secret at the heart of this dysfunctional relationship is revealed, his face just crumbles, frozen in grief and unhappiness, absolutely breaking your heart."

Full review at Whatsonstage.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Hansard Opening Night!

Broadway World has the first production pictures of Hansard, taken by Catherine Ashmore


See Broadway World for all the pictures.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Talking about Hansard

Alex and Lindsay talk about Hansard:

Thursday, August 22, 2019

12 Days of ... Day 12: The Light in the Piazza


Today is the first performance of "Hansard", and the final one in this series of 12 posts looking back on Alex's stage career. I haven't seen all the plays he has performed it, I included the ones I have seen myself. So no Hamlet, no Peer Gynt, no Collaborators and no Speer. I'm sorry to have missed all these, but I'm looking forward to seeing "Hansard".

After a few years of concentrating on screen work Alex returned for a full-length stage production at the Royal Festival Hall in June. He played the part of Signor Naccarelli in "The Light in the Piazza", a musical by Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel. The role involved singing with opera star Renée Fleming, and playing a suave, Italian dad. The production only ran for 20 performances in the Royal Festival Hall, but it might tour later.






More details and pictures at the AJ Diaries.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

12 Days of ... Day 11: Willy Wonka


In 2014 Alex joined the cast of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, his second major musical. He took on the leading role of Willy Wonka. Colourful, energetic, slightly sinister and weird but also very funny.





For more details and pictures check the AJ Archives.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

12 Days of ... Day 10: Hymn and Cocktail Sticks




More Alan Bennett, this time two short, autobiographical pieces. The plays were performed separately at the National Theatre in 2012. Alex takes on the part of Alan Bennett, as he does later in "The Lady in the Van".

"Hymn"was performed accompanied by members of Southbank Sinfonia, "Cocktail Sticks" with a small cast. The two plays later moved to the Duchess Theatre as a double-bill.



More pictures and information at the AJ Archives.

"Cocktail Sticks" was recorded and is available on CD.


Monday, August 19, 2019

12 Days of ... Day 9: The Habit of Art


In 2009 Alex played Benjamin Britten and Henry in Alan Bennett's "The Habit of Art", which featured a play within a play. The production was broadcast to cinemas worldwide as part of the first NT Live season. It can still occasionally be seen as an NT Live Encore. This was the first of several collaborations between Alex, Alan Bennett and Nicholas Hytner, both in the theatre and on screen.




More details and pictures at the Habit of Art.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

12 Days of ... Day 8: Present Laughter


"Present Laughter" is a comedy but not uncomplicated, and to all intents and purposes a tricky one to stage. Alex played Gary Essendine at the National Theatre in 2007. The reviews were mixed, but I liked it.


The day we went to see it something had gone wrong and Alex had hurt his foot, so he left shortly after finishing the performance. Acting can be dangerous...



Details and pictures at the AJ Archives.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

12 Days of ... Day 7: My Fair Lady


A little unexpected, but very enjoyable. Alex took on the role of Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady", taking over from Jonathan Pryce at Drury Lane. A wonderful performance which brought him his third Olivier Award. A small group of us attended the performance together, which resulted in a few special pictures at the stage door and one of our company almost being run over in the excitement.


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From an interview Alex gave to Heather Neill of the Telegraph at the time: "He blames the tendency for people to assume a public-school, upper-middle-class family background on "floppy hair and a loud voice". The hair is still luxuriant, but it is being "severely controlled. Cameron [Mackintosh, the producer] said it made me look 25 and I had to get it off my face, so now it's slicked down. Shame. Until then it was my complete performance."

Charles Spencer reviewed the production in The Telegraph:

"Now Alex Jennings and Joanna Riding have replaced Jonathan Pryce and McCutcheon as Higgins and Eliza, and both are absolutely splendid.

Jennings may lack some of Pryce's twinkly gravitas, but this brilliant and charismatic actor, who has never quite achieved the star status he so richly deserves, succeeds superbly in locating the lost little boy behind Higgins's bullying bluster."


More details and pictures at the AJ Archives.

Alex went back to the part of Higgins in Paris in 2010, at the Théâtre du Châtelet. A different production, with a different feel to it. A great excuse to visit Paris and see this lovely show.


More details and pictures at the AJ Archives.


Wish I could have seen the Australian production too. Alas...

Friday, August 16, 2019

12 Days of... Day 6: My Birthday Week

I decided to spend my 2001 birthday week in London, seeing Alex play Lord Foppington and Leontes in the same week.


I love Restoration comedies, so I was very happy to see this one announced at the National Theatre. Alex at his funniest and most outrageous. And, almost out of place, this rehearsal picture from the programme:


Michael Billington in the Guardian:

"But any revival depends on Lord Foppington, and this production gets a brilliant performance from Alex Jennings, who grasps the essential point that the character is both dressily effeminate and roguishly hetero. "I love to see myself all round," cries Foppington gazing into one of his endless mirrors. And Jennings takes us all round the character by showing him as a bumptious narcissist who completes everyone's sentences, and as an urban lech who makes a play for every pretty woman. It is the contradictions that make Foppington funny: my favourite moment comes when Jennings, in the midst of a swordfight with Loveless, pauses to observe "nice cuffs"."


Susannah Clapp in the Observer:

"There are several good reasons for going to the National Theatre at the moment. Most of them are actors. And one of these is Alex Jennings. Nearly always a lead, and never merely a star, Jennings has often appeared in pinched and pernickety roles, parts which didn't merely gain from but demanded the precision of his speech. After a time, his gimlet-eyed Angelo in Measure for Measure began to seem like typecasting.

Now he's been given his chance in Trevor Nunn's production of The Relapse to take full comic flight. And he's seized it triumphantly. As Lord Foppington, the beau who employs a page to carry his hankie, and whimpers 'my epaulette' when a duelling sword strikes his shoulder, Jennings is a many-tiered confection of plumes and furbelows, teetering on lilac high heels.

He looks like a wedding cake that has sprung into alarming, fruity life. He goes all round the character, sometimes striking the note of a latterday Malvolio, with his fixed, face-lifted gaiety and his lurking distemper. Enormously jealous of any vivacity that isn't his own, he constantly interrupts others by echoing their own words. His pursed-up mouth unleashes a range of blustering phrases - 'Split me windpipe', 'Stack me vitals' - as if they were surprises even to himself."

Benedict Nightingale in The Times:

"Here is a fop who is robbed of his bride by his brother and shoved into a putrid dog kennel by his putative father-in-law, Brian Blessed’s Tunbelly Clumsy, an over-the-top blend of Obelisk and a Yeti. Yet Jennings’s Foppington still manages to maintain not a little intelligence, a resilient wit, a wonderful complacency and a superb serenity in adversity. He knows that he’s the best that London society has to offer — and, yes, maybe he is."

Rhoda Koenig in the Independent:

"The play, however, belongs to Alex Jennings's Foppington, a drawling monument of camp ("My life is a perpetual stream of pleasure") who, swooning at his powdered and painted reflection, puts one in mind of Edith Sitwell blissfully entangled with Cyril Ritchard."

The production poster, a larger version of the programme cover, still has pride of place in my dining room!

More details and pictures at the AJ Archives.



"The Relapse" alternated with "The Winter's Tale", so I saw that a few days later. A very different piece, obviously, and a different side to Alex.



Benedict Nightingale in The Times:

"Let’s start with the best, which is Alex Jennings and the power of his pain. He shows us King Leontes’ craziness all right. He catches the terrifying sincerity of a man who has succumbed to terminal monomania, in this case the obsessive conviction that his wife Hermione is betraying him with his best friend Polixenes.

But from the start, when he’s haplessly comforting himself with his little son, you’re aware that his jealousy hurts him almost as much as he’ll hurt others. And that’s excellent underpinning, because it ensures that we always regard him not just as some ferociously mottled-faced Saddam but as a suffering human, one of us."

Michael Billington in The Guardian:

"By opting for modern dress, Hytner also anchors Leontes's jealousy in a plausible world of tortured politesse, and provides a perfect setting for a major performance from Alex Jennings as Leontes. What is startling about Jennings is the exact gradation of his decline. He starts as a modern, sweatered monarch tossing a rugby ball to his old chum, Polixenes, as if he were boy eternal.

Left to himself over coffee, he drums his fingers restlessly on an armchair and descends by rapid degrees into filthy-minded fantasist and raw-boned, red-faced paranoid convinced he is a derided cuckold. The upholstered smoothness of Ashley Martin-Davis's setting, with its elegantly sliding screens, somehow makes his insane jealousy all the more shocking.

What Jennings brings out as well as any Leontes I have seen is the depth of the character's shame. After the death of his son Mamillius, he rocks silently back and forth as if his top-heavy body were possessed by grief. When he says of Camillo, whom he has urged to poison Polixenes, "how he glisters through my rust", it is a cry of profound mortification. And, at the play's end, as Claire Skinner's marble-still Hermione is restored to life, Jennings mixes silent astonishment with a retrospective guilt. This is a fine performance that pierces straight to the heart."


More details and pictures at the AJ Archives.