Bishop in star-studded show

As the Bishop of Norwich he must have married hundreds of couples but this month art will echo reality when the Rt Rev Graham James takes on the role of the priest in the Theatre Royal's star-studded production of Twelfth Night.

As the Bishop of Norwich he must have married hundreds of couples but this month art will echo reality when the Rt Rev Graham James takes on the role of the priest in the Theatre Royal's star-studded production of Twelfth Night.

Norfolk's own Stephen Fry, Olivier award winner Desmond Barrit and comedian Mel Smith are some of the famous faces he will share the stage with in the fundraiser for the theatre's £10 million revamp.

Bishop Graham will appear in the final performance of the Shakespearean comedy at Houghton Hall, near Fakenham, on Saturday July 28.

“I used to take part in a lot of amateur dramatics and, of course, bishops are used to dressing up,” said Bishop Graham who was asked to do the eight-line part by the show's director Peter Wilson, the chief executive of the Theatre Royal.


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“While it's a bit terrifying to have even a small part alongside big stage stars, I'm delighted to help the Theatre Royal Appeal and have some fun too,”.

In Twelfth Night the lead character Viola is shipwrecked in Illyria where she masquerades as the young page Cesario in the lovesick Duke Orsino's court. The duke uses Cesario to woo Lady Olivia for him but the course true love does not run smooth with Olivia falling for Cesario and Viola for the duke.

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Enter Viola's brother Sebastian whose appearance ensures a happy ending when the priest marries Sebastian and Olivia, leaving Viola free to be with Orsino.

It is not the first time Bishop Graham has taken to the stage: in January 2001 also had a cameo role in the Theatre Royal's pantomime Dick Whittington.

Jane Walsh, executive producer of Twelfth Night, said: “We are delighted Bishop Graham has agreed to take the part. It will all add to the production's sense of fun. Twelfth Night is going to be a very unusual and very special event.”

For the Twelfth Night performances on July 25 to 27 Helen Atkinson Wood will play the priest.

For more information call the box office on 01603 630000 or visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk

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