Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Alex Higgins Hurricane play to return for one-week run

Richard Dormer on stage as Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins

The hit play Hurricane — which celebrates the highs and lows of Alex Higgins’ stormy life — is set to return for a one-week run in Belfast in the New Year.

Actor Richard Dormer, who plays hellraiser Higgins in the one-man production, said resurrecting the show would be a poignant goodbye to his snooker legend pal.

The Belfast-born star told Sunday Life: “This is a final farewell to a true genius and a legend.”

Dormer admitted he was devastated on July 24 when he heard that two-time world champ Higgins had been found dead and alone in his south Belfast flat aged 61.

Cancer-ravaged Higgins — who blew a £4million fortune from snooker as he battled booze and gambling addictions — was so weak he could barely lift a cue in the days before he lost his battle for life.

Dormer wrote the Hurricane play as well as performing it, and it premiered in Belfast in October 2002.

After wowing crowds from the West End to Broadway, he vowed in 2005 that he was going to stop playing Higgins as each show left him so exhausted he needed 14 hours sleep to recover.

But Dormer is bringing the show back in January for a special run at Belfast’s Grand Opera House.

It will be all the more poignant now as the Opera House is just minutes from the flat in Sandy Row where Higgins ended his days.

Dormer’s 67-minute performance is a warts-and-all portrayal of Higgins, exposing how he let a fortune slip through his fingers on birds, booze and bookies.

The RADA-trained actor portrays Higgins in his flamboyant prime — with his open-necked shirt and long hair — through to his sad decline.

But grouchy Higgins loved the show, coming to watch it several times in Belfast, Edinburgh, Sheffield and London.

At the Belfast opening in 2002, Higgins unexpectedly leapt on stage as Dormer was taking his bow.

To raucous cheers from the audience Higgins turned to the actor who had portrayed him and declared: “You’ve got balls, son,” before giving Dormer’s privates a friendly tweak.

Dormer continued to forge a friendship with Higgins while he played him on stage — and labelled the tragic snooker star a “saint and a sinner” after he was found dead.

Hurricane was such a hit the first time round that it sparked interest from Hollywood bosses who wanted to turn it into a movie.

The play attracted the attention of Dangerous Liaisons producer Norma Heyman and would have fulfilled Dormer’s original dream to make a film on Higgins’ life.

Tinseltown executives ditched the plans after stubborn Higgins refused to hand over the rights to the story unless the movie was made in two months and on a massive budget.

But Dormer could now see his movie dreams come true as Hollywood hellraiser Jonathan Rhys Meyers has been tipped to play Higgins in a biopic of his life.

  • Hurricane is at the Grand Opera House from January 25-29, 2011. Tickets from £11.25-£19.75 go on sale this Thursday from www.goh.co.uk or call 028 9024 1919 to book in person.


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