Russell Brand to star in Eric Idle stage comedy in L.A.


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Russell Brand, stage actor? The British comedian, performer and tabloid fixture will try his hand at a new medium when he stars in a stage play written by Eric Idle that will have a four-performance engagement at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown L.A. ‘What About Dick?’ -- a period comedy that Idle has been working on for several years -- is set to run from April 26 to 29.

Brand will play the lead role of Dick, an Oxford student pursuing philosophy and gynecology. The all-star British cast will include Eddie Izzard as the inventor of the vibrator; Jane Leeves and Sophie Winkleman as Dick’s cousins; Tracey Ullman as his alcoholic aunt; Tim Curry as a preacher; and Billy Connolly as a Scottish inspector.


The production will be staged as a radio play, with actors reading from scripts. A previous workshop version of the play was mounted at the Ricardo Montalban Theatre in 2007 with many of the same cast members, but Brand is a new addition.

Idle said in a phone interview that he’s been rewriting the script in the intervening years, and has added several new songs with composer John Du Prez, with whom he worked on ‘Spamalot.’

‘It’s essentially the same idea as before, but the part of Dick got bigger -- if I’m allowed to say that,’ the Monty Python veteran said. The play, which is set partly in the early 20th century, is a farcical romp that ties together many different plot strands. ‘It’s Merchant-Irony,’ said Idle. He said assembling the cast was ‘difficult but we managed to pull them together.’ Another new addition is Winkleman, who appears in the CBS sitcom ‘Two and a Half Men’ as Zoey, the love interest of the Ashton Kutcher character.

The production at the Orpheum will be taped for eventual release as a concert film, Idle said.

Du Prez will perform piano during the production and Idle will serve as narrator.


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-- David Ng