When young English actress Clare Louise Connolly was auditioning for the part of Regan, the 12 year old possessed by the Devil in stage adaption of THE EXORCIST, she was mindful of the iconic scene in the 1973 movie, when the character’s head spins 360. “I was sure I told the director Sean Mathias, that my neck was extremely flexible,” she revealed in a recent interview. It obviously helped, she got the part and after a brief run last year at Birmingham Rep, has reprised the role in the West End at the Phoenix Theatre. Musical movie buffs may also remember her in a reverse and lot less graphic role-a screen adaption of a stage production-in the 2008 film version of MAMA MIA! She signed this montage sketch for me on her way into the theatre for another head-turning performance on Saturday.
Much-loved British actor Peter Bowles has returned to the West End in the terrifying stage adaption of THE EXORCIST at the Phoenix Theatre. The 81 year-old veteran of stage and screen plays Father Lankester Merrin in the production that originated at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and is based on William Peter Blatty’s hugely successful novel and William Friedkin’s 1973 masterpiece film. Probably known more for his comedy roles such as Richard DeVere in the very popular sitcom TO THE MANOR BORN, Peter spent his formative television years playing villains in shows such as THE AVENGERS, DANGER MAN, THE SAINT and THE PRISONER. His stage career began at the Old Vic in 1956 with appearances in a series of Shakespearean productions, including MACBETH, ROMEO AND JULIET and RICHARD II. When I met Peter at the stage door on his way in for Saturdays late matinee he signed my sketch. I quipped, “It looks a scary play to watch,’ he replied “It’s a scary play to be in!”
Australian-born, London-based actor, singer and dancer Adam Garcia is Father Damian Karras in the chilling West End premiere of the stage adaption of William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel THE EXORCIST at the Phoenix Theatre, after an initial run at Birmingham Repertory last year. Adam, a two-time Olivier Award nominee, was last seen on the London stage in the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company’s THE WINTER’S TALE at the Garrick in 2015. Among his many theatre roles is Flyero in the original London cast production of WICKED.
His breakthrough screen appearance was in COYOTE UGLY in 2000. Adam once again teamed up with Sir Kenneth, this time in the film remake of Agatha Christie’s MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS which opened last week. I caught up with him at the Phoenix stage door as he was returning from a break between Saturday’s performances. After signing my drawing and a brief chat about our Antipodean connections he said, “Better get back, got more demons to exorcise.”