1 March 2021

Congratulations to former Abingdon drama students Alex Mugnaioni (2007), Steve Hodgetts (2009) and Kit Young (2013) who all appear in high-profile productions about to hit our screens, and to Simon Evans (2002) whose two series of the hit lockdown sitcom Staged have won a raft of awards.

After making his National Theatre debut in Dürrenmatt’s The Visit last March, Alex Mugnaioni plays the role of Paris in the NT’s new production of Romeo and Juliet. Originally conceived as a stage production last autumn, the producers adapted the play for the small screen when the pandemic forced the closure of theatres, and filming took place in the auditorium of the Olivier towards the end of last year. The results can be seen in the UK on Sky Arts on Sunday 4 April at 9pm, and in the US on PBS at 9pm on Friday 23 April. Alex shares the screen with some very well-known names including Adrian Lester, Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles in The Crown), Tamsin Greig and Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl).

Steve Hodgetts both co-wrote and starred in a 2018 romantic comedy called Love Possibly, which has just become available on Amazon Prime. The title may be a tongue-in-cheek nod to the formidable Richard Curtis and his franchise of rom-coms starring Hugh Grant, but in this riff on the genre, Steve’s antics as Alex Clough, a love-lorn hoover customer service adviser, have more in common with the toe-curling embarrassments of the Sacha Baron-Cohen or Ricky Gervais catalogues.

Kit Young has carved out a spectacular career since leaving school in 2013. After 4 years at RADA, he quickly landed key roles in thrilling new productions of Shakespeare plays by Nick Hytner at the Bridge Theatre in London, as well as shows at The Donmar Warehouse and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Now he is set to appear on our screens as Jesper Fahey in a new Netflix series called Shadow and Bone, an adaptation of the fantasy book series The Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo. The series starts in April.

Finally, the impact of Simon Evans‘ debut TV series Staged continues to resound. After building his name with a number of high profile London theatrical hits, Simon seized the moment last April by successfully pitching, writing, directing and acting in the first series of Staged, a lockdown drama played out on zoom, and featuring a cast of acting royalty that included Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Adrian Lester, Judi Dench, Samuel L Jackson and Nina Sosanya – all playing versions of themselves as they struggle to keep the theatrical flag flying in the face of the pandemic. The six 15-minute shows were broadcast weekly on BBC1, but the whole series was simultaneously made available on iPlayer. Many viewers were so hooked that they binge-watched the whole series in one go, and seemed to relish the way the stories both elevated and reflected the mood of the nation. A second series was promptly commissioned, and aired in January this year with an even more outrageous collection of big names. The show, which has already won several awards and been nominated for a host of others, is now available to buy on DVD. A book of the scripts is set to follow.

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