'The King's Speech' London Stage Debut Delights Stars (And The Critics)

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Abi Titmuss: who knew she was a theatre lover?
Abi Titmuss: who knew she was a theatre lover?

An odd mix of famous faces showed up to welcome The King's Speech to the London stage last night, around a year after the film triumphed at the Oscars.

TV presenter Dermot O'Leary, politician Kenneth Clarke and former glamour model Abi Titmuss joined the likes of Brenda Blethyn, Dame Kelly Holmes and Gina McKee in the audience for the show's official opening at the Wyndham's Theatre.

David Seidler, who originally wrote the story about King George VI as a play before creating the screenplay, was also expected to attend the performance.

The film, which won four Oscars and seven Baftas, stars Colin Firth as Bertie, the king who overcame his stammer with the help of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).

The play stars Charles Edwards in the lead role, Australian-born Jonathan Hyde as Logue, and Emma Fielding as Queen Elizabeth.

Directed by Adrian Noble, it also features Joss Ackland as King George V and Ian McNeice as Winston Churchill.

The production had its world premiere last month in Guildford, the first time it had ever been performed on the stage.

So far the reviews have been excellent, with the Guardian's Michael Billington giving it 4 out of 5 stars and described it as likely commercial hit that has been "directed with visual elan"

The Independent's Paul Taylor gave it the same rating and praised Charles Edwards "touching and often very funny portrayal" of the King.

Seidler began working on the play in the 1970s and 1980s but abandoned the project when the Queen Mother asked him not to pursue it during her lifetime.

He returned to it after her death and went on to win a Bafta and an Academy Award for the screenplay..