NEWS: All-star cast join Martin Shaw in Gore Vidal’s political drama The Best Man

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Another race for the White House… Bill Kenwright Productions has announced the cast joining Martin Shaw in the forthcoming UK production of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man: Jeff Fahey, Jack Shepherd, Glynis Barber, Honeysuckle Weeks, Anthony Powell and Gemma Jones. The touring production opens on 12 September 2017 at the Theatre Royal Windsor, followed by Theatre Royal Brighton, Richmond Theatre, Theatre Royal Bath, Cambridge Arts Theatre, and Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre, prior to the West End.

Martin Shaw is William Russell, esteemed ex-Secretary of State and a US presidential candidate with a philandering reputation. Jeff Fahey is Joseph Cantwell, an ambitious populist newcomer, opposing Russell for the party nomination.

Neck and neck, the only thing that separates the candidates are the endorsements from a respected Ex-President (Jack Shepherd) and party big-wig (Gemma Jones). As the race heats up, the campaigns get personal, involving Russell’s estranged wife Alice (Glynis Barber) and Cantwell’s wife Mabel (Honeysuckle Weeks) and drawing on all the resources of Russell’s campaign manager (Anthony Howell). But where does compromise end and corruption begin? How far will they go to be the most powerful man in the world and who in the end will be proven to be “the best man”?

Also in the cast are Emma Campbell-Jones, Jim Creighton, Simon Hepworth, Ian Houghton, Craig Pinder, David Tarkenter, Alice Offley and Samuel Donnelly.

The Best Man is directed by Simon Evans, with set and costume design by Michael Taylor, lighting design by Chris Davey and composition and sound design by Ed Lewis. Presented by Bill Kenwright, the play will open at the Theatre Royal Windsor on Tuesday 12 September followed by Theatre Royal Brighton, Richmond Theatre, Theatre Royal Bath, Cambridge Arts Theatre, and Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre, prior to the West End.


Born into a distinguished political family, Gore Vidal was a prolific writer known for the waspish wit, which peppered his essays, novels, screenplays and Broadway plays. Among his most famous works are Myra Breckinridge and Lincoln. The Best Man premiered on Broadway in 1960 and was nominated for six Tony Awards, including ‘Best Play’. Vidal adapted it into a film with the same title in 1964 starring Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson and Lee Tracy, who was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of the crafty ex-President. The play received a major revival on Broadway in 2012 starring James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury, and earned two Tony award nominations including ‘Best Revival of a Play’.

Martin Shaw (William Russell) rose to stardom in the late seventies in The Professionals, launching a career that has hardly seen him out of the limelight. He is best known for starring in the multi award winning BBC drama Judge John Deed and more recently Inspector George Gently. On stage, his revelatory performance as Lord Goring in Peter Hall’s production of An Ideal Husband earned him a Tony nomination and the coveted New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award. Other West End triumphs include the acclaimed Twelve Angry Men, Are You Lonesome Tonight? and A Man For All Seasons. He returns to the stage in a role made famous by Henry Fonda in the award-winning film adaptation of The Best Man.

Jeff Fahey (Joseph Cantwell) is best known on TV from his two seasons as a rescue pilot on Lost and as the sheriff in early episodes of Under the Dome, as well screen work including The Lawnmower Man, Silverado, White Hunter Black Heart, The Marshal and One Life to Live. He has also worked extensively as a producer on films including Close Call, Choosing Matthias, Extra Marital, The Underground and The Sweeper. Fahey was most recently on stage in Twelve Angry Men at the Garrick Theatre and in 2012 in Next Fall at the Geffin Playhouse in LA. Further theatre credits include Broadway productions of Brigadoon, Oklahoma and West Side Story and Orphans in the West End.

Jack Shepherd (Ex-President Hockstader) is known for title roles in television series Wycliffe and Bill Brand. Further television credits include Fearless, Rebellion, New Tricks, The Politician’s Husband, Waking the Dead, Scaredy Cat, Sleepyheads, God on Trial, The Fixer, The Chase, It Happens, Slave Trader, Genius of Beethoven, The Only Boy for Me, Murder Rooms, The Other Boleyn Girl, Silent Witness, Man and Boy, High Stakes, Lorna Doone and Wycliffe Special 97, Wycliffe (Series 1994-1998, including two episodes which he also directed). Jack’s stage credits include The Masterbuilder at the Almeida, Small Craft Warning at the Arcola Theatre, Through a Cloud, Murmouring Judges and Racing Demon for the Birmingham Rep, Andorra at the Young Vic, The Merchant of Venice at the Globe, Jane Eyre at the Sheffield Crucible, It’s Ralph at the Comedy Theatre and The Futurists, Golden Boy, Cinderella, Glengarry Glen Ross, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Don Quixote all at the National Theatre.

Glynis Barber (Alice Russell) is best known as one half of the hugely and globally successful cop series, Dempsey & Makepeace, as well as series regular roles in EastEnders (BBC), The Royal (ITV) and Emmerdale (ITV). Her further TV credits include Agatha Christie’s Marple: Endless Nights (ITV), Law and Order (ITV), Casualty (BBC), Bamboo (BBC), New Tricks (BBC) Trial & Retribution X (ITV) and for film; Family Royal (due for release in 2018), Point Break, Edge of Tomorrow, Hammer of the Gods, On The Nose (alongside Dan Ackroyd & Robbie Coltrane), The Fairy King of Air (alongside Malcolm McDowell) and Deja Vu (alongside Vanessa Redgrave & Stephen Dillane). Her previous theatre credits include Stalking The Bogeyman (Southwark Playhouse), original London Cast of Beautiful: The Carole King Story (Aldwych Theatre), Love Letters (Dundee Rep), Season’s Greetings (UK Tour), Separate Tables (The Mill at Sonning), The Graduate  (UK Tour), Macbeth (Shakespeare Festival), Make Me A Match (The Mill at Sonning), and Killing Time (UK Tour).

Honeysuckle Weeks’ (Mabel Cantwell) television credits include Foyle’s War, The Five, Lewis, Death in Paradise, The Charles Dickens Show, Where the Heart Is, The Inspector Linley Mysteries, Poirot; Cards on the Table, Casualty, Lorna Doone, Midsomer Murders, Close Relations, The Orchard Walls, The Rag Nymph, Have Your Cake and Eat It, The Wild House and Google Eyes. Her film credits include The Wicker Tree, Red Mercury Rising and My Brother Tom. Her theatre credits include The Shining Lives at the Park Theatre, Pygmalion and Love’s Labour’s Lost at Chichester Festival Theatre, Witness for the Prosecution on UK Tour, A Daughter’s A Daughter at Trafalgar Studios/Theatre Royal Windsor and Absurd Person Singular on National Tour.

Anthony Howell (Dick Jenson) is best known from his role as Sgt Paul Milner in Foyle’s War. Further television credits include Medici-Kingdom of Gold, Crossing Lines, Apocalypse Slough, Shetland, Mr Selfridge, Dracula, Dirk Gently, Foyle’s War, Hawking, The Other Boleyn Girl, Ultimate Force, Swallow and Wives and Daughters. His film credits include Woman in Gold and Dungeons and Dragons Three; The Book of Vile Darkness. Anthony’s theatre credits include The Heresy of Love, Julius Caesar, Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII all at the Globe Theatre, The Seagull at Southwark Playhouse, Portrait of a Lady/Doll’s House at the Theatre Royal Bath, Then There Were None at the Gielgud Theatre and As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors and Romeo and Juliet for the RSC.

Gemma Jones (Mrs Gamadge) is one of the UK’s most distinguished actresses, most recognised for her roles in The Duchess of Duke Street and as Bridget’s mum in the Bridget Jones’s Diary films and for Marvellous, for which she won the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress. Gemma’s further screen credits include, Diana and I, Carnage, Doc Martin, Capital, Unforgotten, Last Tango in Halifax, Lucan, The Lady Vanishes, Atlantis, Death in Paradise, 13 Steps Down, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, Secret Diary of Anne Lister, Ballet Shoes, Spooks 6, Trial and Retribution, Longitude, Jane Eyre, The Borrowers, Inspector Morse, After The Dance, The Duchess of Duke Street, Man in a Sidecar, The Life and The Typewriter. Her film credits include Patrick, You, Me and Him, Radiator, Hysteria and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Gemma’s theatre credits include The Rivals at the Arcola Theatre, The Turn of the Screw, Dance of Death, at the Almeida, Richard III at the Old Vic, Family Reunion at the Donmar Warehouse, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at the Lyric Theatre, The Glass Menagerie  at Chichester Festival Theatre, The Winter’s Tale for the RSC, Ride Down Mount Morgan Wyndham’s Theatre, King Lear at the Old Vic, Mystery of the Rose Bouquet at the Donmar Warehouse, Much Ado About Nothing at Chichester Festival Theatre, The Homecoming at the Garrick Theatre, Next of Kin and The Marriage of Figaro for the National Theatre and Hamlet for Birmingham Rep.

Simon Evans‘ credits include The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Silence of the Seas (Donmar Warehouse), The Dazzle, Bug, Fool for Love (Found111), Almost Maine (Park Theatre), Hannah (Unicorn), Speed Twins (Riverside Studio), Laura Marling, Shawshank Redemption and Ghostbusters (Secret Cinema), Rubber Room (The Old Vic) and Madness in Valencia (Trafalgar Studios). Simon was Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse, Staff Director at the National and Creative Associate at the Bush.

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Press Releases on Twitter
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MyTheatreMates publishes a selection of daily press releases sent to us by publicists of the relevant show or theatre. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies contained within these materials.

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