Acclaimed actor Clive Francis revealed his excitement at starring in the revival of 84 Charing Cross Road ahead of the play’s run at Richmond Theatre on Monday June 11.
A new UK tour of James Roose-Evans’ adaptation of Helene Hanff’s novel 84 Charing Cross Road, directed by Richard Beecham, will be showing in London until June 16.
The production opened at Darlington Hippodrome in May and has visited Wolverhampton and Malvern before reaching Richmond, Oxford and finishing in Cambridge Arts Theatre on June 30.
Clive said: “We’ve had wonderful, wonderful reviews and feedback from the members of the audience.
“People and the audiences that we’ve been playing to find it a very affectionate and endearing piece.’’
84 Charing Cross Road is a true, heart-warming story of transatlantic friendship that developed over 20 years of correspondence between a New York writer (Helene Hanff) and a London bookseller.
Through the charming, intimate and often amusing letters they exchange the audience learns about Britain from the post-war 1940s to the colourful 60s, and discovers a touching human story.
Clive said: “It is a very affectionate, very dear story between two people who never meet.’’
Played by Clive, Frank Doel is a chief buyer and a manager of a Charring Cross Road antiquarian bookseller Marks & Co who Stephanie Powers’ Helene Hanff writes to in order to source a book she had long looked for.
“He lived this very ordinary, rather I suppose nondescript kind of life but befriends this American woman and whole new chapter of his life opens up,’’ the actor said.
“We used to, as young people, to have a pen pal, maybe in Australia, maybe in America, and they became exactly that,’’ he added.
Because of the unusual nature of the story, Clive and Stephanie perform on stage without ever being able to look at one another.
Clive said: “For two actors that’s a very peculiar and very odd thing to do because normally you make eye-contact all the time.
“I don’t even know what she is wearing half of the time!’’ he added.
Clive admitted that it’s a treat to be able to work with Stephanie not only because she is a legendary Hollywood star and a very fine actress, but also because they have a very similar sense of humour.
‘’I would like to think that our on-stage relationship is exactly right for this particular play,” he said.
When asked about new elements in the play, Clive, who played the role for the first time in 2015, talks about the use of music to give a sense of the period: ‘’We’re using music rather a lot throughout just to give that sense of time passing.’’
What: 84 Charing Cross Road
Where: Richmond Theatre
When: Monday June 11-16
How: Short walk from Richmond train and underground station