TV stars have long proved a draw for casual and regular theatre-goers alike. But while stunt casting can prove a boost to the box office, often, the result is cringeworthy.
Of course, there are exceptions. Last week I popped down to London to catch Twelve Angry Men before its imminent cast change. The name above the title that attracted me, Martin Shaw.
Of the generation who grew up with Shaw as Ray Doyle in The Professionals, and then followed him through programmes like Judge John Deed and Inspector George Gently, the chance to see finally see him on stage was too good to miss.
It was certainly worth the trip, confirming my belief that Shaw is one of our greatest actors. It was also a delight to see veteran Robert Vaughn, star of The Man From UNCLE and Hustle. Still working at 81, he showed the younger cast members how it’s done with a beautifully understated performance that was mesmerising to watch.
But you don’t have to go to London to see such class. Next month, the Traverse welcomes Stephanie Cole, whose credits include Coronation Street, Waiting for God and Tenko. Starring in a new play called This May Hurt A Bit, you can catch her at the Trav from 8-12 April.
Before that, at the Brunton in Musselburgh, there’s a chance to see Hyancinth Bucket herself, actress Patricia Routledge, in Admission One Shilling, the story of Dame Myra Hess and her wartime concerts which continued as the bombs rained down. See her for one night only, on 28 March.
Finally, at The King’s, from 24-29 March, Robert Powell dons the attire of Agatha Christie’s Poirot. The actor best known as Jesus of Nazareth and for the series The Detectives, stars in Black Coffee.
Class acts all, and well worth checking out.