James Corden helps Noel Coward's Present Laughter to become a Broadway hit

Amy Harris
Helping hand: James Corden: Kevin Winter/Getty

Noel Coward's play Present Laughter is a hit on Broadway- thanks to a little help from James Corden.

The revival of the 1939 play about a narcissistic actor starring Oscar-winning star Kevin Kline and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back actress Cobie Smulders is playing at the St James Theatre in Manhattan's Times Square.

Bhavesh Patel, who plays wannabe playwright Roland Maule in the show, revealed he had based his character's accent on Corden in BBC comedy Gavin and Stacey which ran between 2007 and 2010.

Patel told the Standard: "I was playing someone a bit lower class, more estuary and more Essex. So I watched alot of young James Corden when he was on Gavin and Stacey. There's a great clip of James Corden ordering Indian food where he had this weird cadence and I would play with that. Corden is a prince!"

Applause: Kate Burton, from left, Kevin Kline, Kristine Nielsen and Cobie Smulders appear on stage at the opening night curtain call of Present Laughter (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

Tina Fey and Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter were among the opening night guests. The creative team behind Present Laughter, which was last staged in London at the National Theatre a decade ago, are keen to play up the modernity of Noel Coward, the legendary English playwright who died in 1973.

Smulders, who shot to fame in How I Met Your Mother, said of her character Joanna, a married woman who seduces Kline's leading man Garry Essendine: "If Joanna was a woman who lived in this day , she would be the editor-in-chief of Vogue. She's a very modern woman and she doesn't believe in monogamy and how people are living in that day.

"So it is fun to play but it also brings an outsider's perspective concerning what she's dealing with." The play's director Moritz von Stuelpnagel said: "Joanna is aggressive about going after what she wants and she's not apologetic about having a sexual appetite and that's refreshing within a classic play...Coward is one of those writers who understands that a certain amount of vice is important for a well-rounded life!"

Von Stuelpnagel directed puppet play Hand to God at the Vaudeville Theatre last year and he said if Kline was up for it, he would like to transfer Present Laughter to the West End. He said: "If Kevin wants to go do this in West End, I'm more than happy to go with him!"

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