Kerry’s back in steamy drama

Kerry McCrohon with Mike Parker in The Graduate

Kerry McCrohon with Mike Parker in The Graduate

Pirates of Penzance at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

REVIEW: Pirates of Penzance at New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

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First it was a cult novel, then a 1967 Oscar-winning film starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft and a West End and Broadway hit with Kathleen Turner. And now a multi-award-winning theatre company is to give Terry Johnson’s play its first Portsmouth airing.

Yes, The Graduate steams into the New Theatre Royal next week.

Set in California in the 1960s, it is the story of a student called Benjamin and his disastrous sexual odyssey.

He has excellent grades, proud parents and, since he helped Mrs Robinson with her zipper, a fine future behind him...

The play, based on Charles Webb’s novel and the screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, will be staged by CCADS at the beginning of their 20th anniversary season.

It marks their first return to the NTR since winning the trophy for Best Amateur Drama Production at the Guide Awards with Alan Bennett’s The History Boys.

Heading the cast is one of the ‘boys’ from that production, Mike Parker. Previously seen in major supporting parts for CCADS and One Off, he now takes his first leading role, stepping into Hoffman’s shoes as Benjamin Braddock.

Playing the seductive ‘older woman’ – previously taken also by Amanda Donohoe, Anne Archer, Linda Gray and Jerry Hall – is Kerry McCrohon.

She is the only performer to have won the Guide’s Best Actress award twice and this production marks her return to the stage after having a baby son, Christopher, with husband John-Paul McCrohon, artistic director of CCADS.

New Theatre Royal marketing officer Charlotte Mackie moves from behind the scenes back to centre-stage to complete the play’s romantic triangle as Mrs Robinson’s daughter, Elaine.

And the cast also includes Peter Colley as Mr Robinson and Tony Dart and Marie Ridley as Benjamin’s parents.

John-Paul says: ‘The film and novel were not just popular successes but cultural landmarks, with many of the situations and lines from the piece having gone into popular usage.

‘Terry Johnson fuses the best of the book and the film with his own wit to create an entertaining and accessible play that will delight a wide variety of audiences.’

The action will be accompanied by a soundtrack of 1960s hits including Simon and Garfunkel classics The Sound of Silence and Mrs Robinson, both written for the movie.

The production contains nudity and mild sexual references but is suitable for audiences aged 14-plus.

Performances from Wednesday to Saturday (7.30pm). Tickets: (023) 9264 9000 or newtheatreroyal.com.

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