For those in the know he is considered the height of acting talent. Part of the Cambridge Footlights generation that created Stephen Fry, Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, he is described by the Independent as “the greatest stage actor of his generation.” NowSimone Russell Beale is taking on a drag role in the upcoming production of Privates on Parade.
Beale told the London Evening Standard he plays Terri Dennis the cross-dressing army captain in a gay concert party based in Singapore and Malaysia in the late 1940s. Beale said he found it interesting, as a gay man, to explore the emergence of gay culture that is in the play and how it was received at the time.
“There is a rather lovely scene with another gay soldiers, who tells Terri, ‘We’ve got to stop all the queening around-you’ve got to keep a low profile,” said Beale. “And Terri uses the word ‘gay’. It must have been creeping in at the time.”
On stage the shortlisted actor for the Evening Standard Theatre’s Best Actor will be in drag for the first time in his career and will also need to sing, which is something he says he hasn’t done in a long time. If this picture is anything to go by he has taken to the dresses like a fish to water. The oranges and frills shows that the play be fun and full of wit we have come to expect from a drag act.
However, there is a serious side that Beale wants people to think about in the play. He says, “The idea of all these men going back to England, with all that rigidity and drabness and dullness, when had seen so much in the Far East, ia quite terrifying. But they very well might be part of that exploration of gay equality.”
SO it explores gay and drag culture AND we can feel intelligent while doing it? Get us tickets now.
Privates on Parade is at the Noel Coward Theatre December 1- March 2 (0844 482 514) (www.london-theatreland.co.uk/theatres/noel-coward-theatre/privates-on-parade.php)