READY to entertain local theatre fans is Shane Richie who will be swapping from Alfie, his well known role in the television soap Albert Square, to Archie when he plays in a brand new production of The Entertainer.

Richie has balanced a hugely successful 40 year career between theatre, film and television, and he has been a regular fixture on prime-time television.

He has hosted such shows as Lucky Numbers (ITV), The Shane Richie Experience (ITV), Win, Lose or Draw (ITV), Don’t Forget the Lyrics! (SKY1), Reflex (BBC) and Win Your Wish List (BBC) to name but a few. He is also well known for playing Alfie Moon in EastEnders and is currently performing in the West End in Everyone’s Talking about Jamie.

Now he will play Archie Rice in a brand-new production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer – chosen as one of the greatest plays of the 20th century by Michael Billington.

Also joining the cast will be Sara Crowe to play Phoebe Rice and Diana Vickers to play Jean Rice.

Diana Vickers first came to the public eye as a semi-finalist in The X Factor in 2008. Her previous theatre work includes I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical, Myth, Son of A Preacher Man, Big, The Rocky Horror Show, The Duck House, Hatched and Dispatched and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice in the West End. Her film credits include: Awaiting, To Dream and The Perfect Wave.

Aberdeen born and Olivier Award-winning Sara Crowe most recently appeared as Ruth in the first UK Tour of Calendar Girls, the Musical, and was seen on screen in the 2019 Comic Relief reboot of Four Weddings & A Funeral – One Red Nose Day and a Wedding.

This Christmas she can be seen on BBC4 in the ghost story Martins Close written and directed by Mark Gatiss.

The play is set in 1982 with Archie Rice a washed-up entertainer playing a summer season.

As his soldier son sails with the Task Force to liberate the Falklands, his daughter Jean returns from campaigning against the war, and Archie’s professional and personal lives collide with devastating consequences.

Directed by Sean O’Connor, this innovative adaptation will tour to Malvern from Monday, September 9 to Saturday, September 14 and for the first time since its premiere, in 1957, this classic play will be given a vibrant new setting.

O’Connor said: “Osborne’s story of a man who faces the end of his career in the declining days of a popular art form in the context of Britain struggling to establish its place on the international stage has never seemed more relevant or more timely.

“Against the backdrop of the Falklands War of 1982, the satirical new world of alternative comedy has dismissed Archie’s style of humour and his sort of act as old–fashioned and even offensive. The mother-in-law joke has been outlawed and a generation of entertainers like Archie have suddenly found themselves irrelevant.

“At the same time, in the wake of recent abuse scandals, a certain cultural attitude- and a certain sort of man- has been exposed as outmoded and redundant; this is an Entertainer for 2019.”

“It’s a tribute to Osborne’s genius that this play resonates beyond the historical moment it was written in and speaks to us directly today with such prescience, power and truth.

It’s the state of the nation play, but it’s also a moving examination of family and failure as well as a defiant roar in the face of the relentless inevitability of change. 

“I’m hugely excited to bring this new vision of one of the 20th century’s finest plays to the stage and completely thrilled to have secured Shane – one of the great entertainers of today - to play one of the most iconic roles in British theatre.”