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Hoxton actor to make West End debut alongside James Bond stars Dame Judi Dench and Ben Wishaw in play by Skyfall writer

PUBLISHED: 12:39 22 February 2013 | UPDATED: 12:39 22 February 2013

Olly Alexander in rehearsals for Peter and Alice. Picture: Marc Brenner

Olly Alexander in rehearsals for Peter and Alice. Picture: Marc Brenner

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If Hoxton actor Olly Alexander is daunted by his West End debut, he could not ask for more illustrious company to help him through.

If Hoxton actor Olly Alexander is daunted by his West End debut, he could not ask for more illustrious company to help him through.

From next Saturday, March 9, the 22-year-old appears in new play Peter and Alice at the 900-seat Noel Coward Theatre, about a meeting between the real-life individuals who inspired the characters Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland.

And he will share the stage with the venerable Dame Judi Dench, along with her James Bond co-star Ben Wishaw, who played gadget master Q in the latest Bond flick Skyfall.

Mr Alexander, of Pitfield Street, said: “It’s sort of ridiculous, I have to pinch myself a bit. She’s so cool, I want her to be my best friend.

“Everyone is so ridiculously nice and normal, but at the same time it’s inspiring to watch them and see why they are so successful. I would be an idiot if I wasn’t really trying to learn from them.

“I haven’t done much theatre, so it’s definitely a big leap. I’m terrified, but I’m in good hands.”

The up-and-coming talent is fast building an impressive CV, appearing in films including Jack Black vehicle Gulliver’s Travels and 2009’s Bright Star about John Keats, which also starred Ben Wishaw.

While he only has a handful of theatre credits in fringe productions, he drew much praise for his performance last year in Mercury Fur at Islington’s Old Red Lion Theatre in St John Street.

In Peter and Alice, penned by successful playwright and screenwriter John Logan – another Bond link as he co-wrote the Skyfall screenplay – he portrays the boy who never grows up, Peter Pan himself.

He said: “It’s amazing, I have always wanted to be Peter Pan. Every boy does I think.

“It’s not really a straightforward Pan though, I’m sort of being someone else’s consciousness – but I still get to wear the costume and fly around the stage!

“The play is about Alice Hargreaves and Peter Llewelyn Davies meeting at a book shop and what they might have spoken about, having both grown up as very famous works of fiction.

“As they start to talk about their pasts, the characters from their lives become real, and reality and fantasy blur.”

Mr Alexander grew up in Wales and joined the National Youth Theatre, getting his first real break after impressing a casting director for teen drama Skins, who recommended him to an agent at 16.

“I’ve been working ever since,” he said. “I don’t really know how it happened, I was just in the right place at the right time. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I do feel like I’ve cut my teeth a bit.”

Something of a polymath, he also fronts Hackney-based band Years and Years, an electro-pop outfit who rehearse at Netil House in Westgate Street and are currently recording an album, while he co-wrote the script for The Dish and the Spoon, a 2011 film he starred in.

Of his West End debut, he added: “It will be magical I hope. I’m absolutely terrified I might pass out and will have ruined the play, but I’m excited too. I’m just trying to not have a panic attack every time I think about it.”

Peter and Alice is at the Noel Coward Theatre from March 9 until June 1. Box office: 0844 482 5141.


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