Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Mirren happy to reprise Queen role

Dame Helen Mirren is playing the Queen at the Gielgud Theatre

Dame Helen Mirren reigned supreme over London's West End at the official opening of her new play The Audience.

The 67-year-old actress gave a majestic performance as the Queen - the role which won her an Oscar - to an all-star crowd at the Gielgud Theatre - and made sure she was not upstage by two adorable Corgis.

The play - directed by Stephen Daldry and written by Peter Morgan, who also wrote 2006 film The Queen - shows an imagined series of conversations between the Queen and her prime ministers during their regular private audiences.

Mirren had the audience in stitches when she fell asleep during a meeting with David Cameron. Speaking of the Duke of Edinburgh's health, she said: "We're both hanging in there, just... a bit like your coalition with the Liberal Democrats."

Sir David Frost, Sheridan Smith, Gemma Arterton, Tom Hooper, Luke Evans, Sheila Hancock and David Miliband were among the well-known faces in the audience.

The play also stars Haydn Gwynne as Baroness Thatcher, Edward Fox as Sir Winston Churchill and Richard McCabe with a hilarious performance as Harold Wilson.

Mirren had vowed not to play the monarch again, saying: "I didn't want to become the actress who plays the Queen if you know what I mean, I don't think that's very nice for me and it's not very nice for the Queen."

But she added after meeting the cast for the play, which runs in the West End until June, she knew she would have been "an idiot" to turn the job down. Mirren performed some deft costume changes on stage and wore several wigs for the performance, as she is currently sporting a bright pink crop.

She revealed she was inspired to dye her hair after seeing someone with pink hair on US reality show America's Next Top Model and thinking, "that would be cool, I might have a go at that".

The Audience will be screened in cinemas on June 13 as part of National Theatre Live. It will also be shown internationally.

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