Two of television’s leading actors, Ian Kelsey (Doctors, Emmerdale, Blue Murder) and Patrick Robinson (Casualty, Strictly Come Dancing and the RSC) are to star in the iconic lead roles of Andy Dufresne and Ellis ‘Red’ Redding in The Shawshank Redemption on stage at the Theatre Royal Bath from Monday 21st to Saturday 26th September as part of a UK tour.
When banker Andy Dufresne is handed a double life-sentence for the brutal murder of his wife and her lover, his protests of innocence are unflinching. Incarcerated at the notorious Shawshank penitentiary, he quickly learns that no one can survive alone. Andy strikes up an unlikely friendship with the prison fixer Red and things take a slight turn for the better. However, when Warden Stammas decides to bully Andy into subservience and exploit his talents for accountancy, a desperate plan is quietly hatched…
The classic film of The Shawshank Redemption – which starred Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman – celebrates its 21st anniversary in 2015. Regularly voted as one of the best in cinema history, the 1994 feature film was nominated for seven Academy Awards.
Based on the 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by celebrated author Stephen King, the stage adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption examines desperation, injustice, friendship and hope behind the claustrophobic bars of a maximum-security facility. Presented by Bill Kenwright, this new production is directed by award-winning Broadway director David Esbjornson and adapted by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns.
One of television’s best-loved and most prolific leading men, Ian Kelsey has hardly been off our screens for over two decades. Now playing Andy Dufresne on stage, he starred as practice manager Howard Bellamy in over 400 episodes of BBC1’s Doctors, a role he leaves in a closely-guarded story-line this November. His other major television roles have included four years in BBC1’s Casualty playing Patrick Spiller, three years as Dave Glover in ITV1’s Emmerdale, two years as Matt Brewer in BBC1’s Down To Earth, six years as DI Richard Mayne in ITV1’s Blue Murder, and playing Jack Clayton in the final series of ITV1’s Where The Heart Is. On stage, Ian’s leading roles in the West End include Billy Flynn in Chicago and Danny Zuko in Grease.
Patrick Robinson, who stars as Red, also has a television career spanning more than two decades. Best known for his role as staff nurse-turned-consultant Martin ‘Ash’ Ashford in Casualty, Patrick starred in the BBC1 series from 1990 to 1996, returning for a guest appearance in a two-part special in 1998, and reprising his role in 2013 for a year. His other television credits include playing DC Jacob Banks in 65 episodes of The Bill, and roles in Midsomer Murders and A Many Splintered Thing. In 2013, Patrick appeared on Strictly Come Dancing where he danced his way to the semi-finals. On stage, Patrick performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company for four years where his stage credits included Romeo and Juliet, starring as the RSC’s first ever black Romeo. His West End stage credits include Dangerous Corner at the Garrick Theatre; Festen at the Almeida and Lyric Theatre; and War Horse at the New London Theatre. He last performed at the Theatre Royal Bath in 1997 in The Country Wife with Sara Crowe.
Owen O’Neill, who co-adapted The Shawshank Redemption for the stage, plays the role of Warden Stammas. An award-winning actor, writer and stand-up comedian, Owen made his stand-up television debut in 1985 on Saturday Live and has since performed across the world. An annual visitor to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for over twenty years, he has produced, directed and starred in eight one-man shows, winning a string of awards including two Fringe Firsts, the Edinburgh Critics Award for Best Comedy, a Perrier nomination and the LWT Award for Best Original Play. Owen first adapted The Shawshank Redemption for the stage in 2008, a production which ran at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre, at Wyndhams Theatre in the West End, and was revived in 2013 at the Edinburgh Festival. Amongst his many stage credits, Owen also performed in the West End stage productions of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest with Christian Slater, and, last year, in Twelve Angry Men with Martin Shaw and Robert Vaughan.
The cast is completed by Ian Barritt as Brooksie, George Evans as Tommy Williams, Leigh Jones as Rooster, Kevin Mathurin as Bogs Diamond, Owen Oldroyd as Entwhistle, Declan Perring as Rico, Joe Reisig as Bryan Hadley and Ged Simmons as Dawkins.
David Esbjornson is an award-winning international director. His work includes the Broadway debut and West End production of Driving Miss Daisy starring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones, for which David received the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Revival. In 2005, he directed the West End premiere of Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men, produced by Bill Kenwright and starring Rob Lowe.
Stephen King is one of the most popular authors of contemporary literature. He has written 54 published novels which have sold more than 350 million copies around the world, many of which have been adapted into feature films.
THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION tours to the Theatre Royal Bath from Monday 21st September to Saturday 26th September. Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or online at www.theatreroyal.org.uk
Photos by Mark Yeoman.