If you’re curious about what happened to the actor who played the father of Lady Edith’s secret child, then swing by the National Theatre in Washington, DC where you can see Charles Edwards, who played the wealthy publisher Michael Gregson in Downton Abbey, on stage in the Noel Coward classic, Blithe Spirit. The play, which runs through March 29, also stars 89 year old actress Angela Lansbury.
Edwards plays middle-aged writer Charles Condomine. It’s a role with which the actor is very familiar, as he played the exact same part at a theatre in Harrogate, Yorkshire, when he left drama school at the age of 24. It was his first professional theatre work and is memorable for providing Edwards with his most embarrassing moment; when he tripped over the carpet on opening night! Now 20 odd years on, he gets to play the part again, hopefully on a firmer footing. Edwards has been touring North America in the play since early December, and he also starred in it during its successful run in London’s West End last year. The DC production is the final stop on the tour and hopefully Edwards will get a chance to tour the city as it’s his first time in Washington.
The youngest of four boys, the 6’ 2” Edwards was born in Haslemere, Surrey in 1969. He first became interested in acting as a young school boy and his very first time on stage was as Fourth Gingerbread Man in Hansel and Gretel. After leaving high school when he was 18, Edwards studied at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama and since graduating in 1992 seems to have been working constantly.
Edwards’ first television role was as a police officer in Rumpole of the Bailey, but it’s as a stage actor that he has garnered accolades. He made his Broadway debut almost a decade ago in the play The 39 Steps, and was the only actor from the London production to transfer with the show to New York. Like Blithe Spirit, The 39 Steps is a comedy, and Edwards has received kudos for his comedic timing. His next stage role will be a lot more serious though, as following the conclusion of Blithe Spirit, he will return to his home in Sussex to start working on his next role, Shakespeare’s Richard II, which opens at the Globe Theatre in London in July.
Edwards has appeared in a number of Shakespeare plays over the years, including A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2009, where be played Oberon to Judi Dench's Titania. Edwards and Dench also starred together in the film Philomena.
Edwards will be returning to our television screens later this year in a MASTERPIECE presentation called Arthur & George, about author Arthur Conan Doyle and his manservant Woodie. Edwards plays the role of Woodie and the role of Arthur is played by none other than Doc Martin actor Martin Clunes. That’s certainly something to look forward to, and I’ll have more information about the series nearer the time.
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