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Sir Kenneth Branagh to return to West End for first time in seven years

By Nick Clark

Sir Kenneth Branagh is to tread the boards of the West End again for the first time in seven years.

With Hollywood blockbusters like Cinderella under his belt, the Belfast-born star joked that his agents are a little upset that he is to return to the stage.

More than three decades after his West End debut, the actor-turned-director's new company will stage five plays at the Garrick Theatre from October, including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne, with co-stars such as Dame Judi Dench and Rob Brydon.

"It's exciting to come back to the West End; it has been very good to me," he said. "A creative and artistic home is what I've been looking for in the theatre. We have found it here."

Sir Kenneth - last seen on a London stage in Chekhov's Ivanov in 2008 - joked his agents "would look very sad" at the news that he would be unable to commit to a big film project. And no wonder - his Cinderella adaptation has taken more than £288m worldwide.

"I accepted that they would say: 'Why, and why now?' to which I would say: 'Why not?'"

"I come from the theatre, my bones are in the theatre; it's as natural as breathing to want to be in the theatre," he added. At the Garrick, Sir Kenneth will star alongside Dame Judi in The Winter's Tale, which he will co-direct.

"Reuniting with her on a play I'm very passionate about was the beginning of it. That was the creative energy at the heart of the idea," he said.

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