Nick Barnes - Reluctant Actor

Nick Barnes was born in London and grew up the only son of theatrical parents, so it was perhaps inevitable he pursue the calling of the theatre. He began acting at the age of four; his early career included his stage debut in Romeo & Juliet with the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing Sean Connery's son in the cult sci-fi movie Outland, and British television appearances in Armchair Theatre, Barlow, and Jack On The Box. Nick also appeared in BBC Classic Serials & Masterpiece Theatre productions such as Upstairs Downstairs, Goodbye Mr Chips, Enemy at the Door, and Anna Karenina, and he played the title role in the critically acclaimed Simon Fenton's Story.

In constant demand to revoice foreign language productions, he scored notable successes as Crispy in The Brothers Lionheart, Godik in Silas, Goat Peter in Heidi and Edmund in the acclaimed animated version of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.  Nick also claims a singular honour in revoicing one of Jackie Chan's lines in his movie Miracles after the original version of the line was accidentally wiped. He also performed regularly on BBC Radio, including roles in Jean Anouilh's The Fighting Cock, in John Betjeman's Metroland, as Nijinsky in The God of the Dance, and most notably as Dawid in The Diary of Dawid Rubinowicz, the highly acclaimed factual monologue about the Holocaust. His triumph with this harrowing role led BBC producer John Tydeman to offer him a radio monologue chronicling a British teenager's angst in the 1980's. The success of this subsequent broadcast led British publisher Methuen to commission its author, Sue Townsend, to write an extended version of Mole's exploits - which became the first of several internationally bestselling books: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾. Nick had the pleasure of recording this and subsequent volumes of Mole's journals both for broadcast on BBC Radio and for release as bestselling audio cassettes, culminating in Mole's more mature adventures as an angst-ridden twenty-something in Adrian Mole - The Wilderness Years. In addition to performing the role on radio, he toured the United Kingdom in character as Mole, performing extracts from the books, and appeared on numerous popular television interview shows such as Pebble Mill, The Russell Harty Show, and This Morning with Richard & Judy.

Following completion of his theatrical training at Corona Academy in London, Nick co-presented the BAFTA Award-nominated live children's television series Number 73, and made guest appearances on British television in Love and Marriage, Casualty, The Bill, A Killing On The Exchange, Lifeschool, Wrinkly, and Where There's A Will with Patrick Macnee.  Nick's television career flourished with multiple appearances in the award-winning sketch series Victoria Wood - As Seen On TV; as a feckless young actor in the popular Masterpiece Theatre series The Bretts about a 1920's theatrical dynasty; as the perennially bonking Brit-Camp rep in the BBC film comedy Ball-Trap On The Cote Sauvage with Miranda Richardson and Zoë Wanamaker; as Balthasar in a new television adaptation of Romeo & Juliet with Jenny Agutter; and as the hapless reporter Bateson in the star-studded Masterpiece Theatre presentation of Evelyn Waugh's journalistic satire Scoop.

Theatre work at that time included international tours of Saint Joan and The Tempest with the late Sir Anthony Quayle's company, Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Stafford Castle), Orlando in As You Like It, Elyot Chase in Private Lives, and Leonard in Alan Ayckbourn's Time and Time Again (all at Eye Theatre, Suffolk), Greg in Alan Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking (touring the United Arab Emirates), John Godber's Teechers (Lowestoft Theatre), Building Blocks (Southwold Theatre), Steven Newman Doesn't Eat Quiche (Edinburgh Festival), numerous London productions including Nemesis…, Watcher In The Rain, Frozen Chicken Parts, Anouilh's Antigone (Etcetera Theatre) and Sara (a new version of Chekhov's Ivanov) at the Bridewell Theatre, as well as the West End productions of Candida (Arts Theatre), and The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (directed by and starring Charlton Heston). In addition to his work as an actor, Nick has directed successful productions of The Fantasticks (Denning Hall, Croydon & Canal Cafe), Take It Up The Octave (Talk of London) and a charity concert of Jesus Christ Superstar in London.

Nick saw in the new millennium with the West End run of Alan Ayckbourn's Comic Potential at the Lyric Theatre, sometimes playing the pink-suited and bewigged android interpreter Marmion and sometimes Adam, the writer who falls in love with multiple award- winner Janie Dee's android actor, JC333. This was followed by an appearance in the smash-hit series set in a women's prision, Bad Girls; as pugnacious terrorist Ronnie in Wendell Ash Was Here at the Finborough Theatre; a record-breaking run at the Landor Theatre as evangelical fruitcake Charles J Guiteau in Stephen Sondheim's musical Assassins; as Joanna Riding's love interest in a workshop of Breaking News, a new musical at the Kings Head Theatre; filming the title role in the prototype of The Penalty King, a new black comedy about a blind ex-football pro who stages an unexpected comeback from writer/director Chris Cook; recording the My Hero Christmas special for BBC Television; reprising the role of Greg in a new cross-cultural production of Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking at the Actor's Studio Theatre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; shooting an episode of the BBC sitcom Chambers; workshops of new plays for the Royal Court and the Wolsey Studio, Ipswich; and in his UK theatrical swansong, playing the lead role in the European premiere of John Mighton's remarkable play Possible Worlds as part of The Steam Industry's Faith & Science season at the Finborough Theatre.

In 2004, Nick moved permanently to New York where, upon joining the American Actor's Equity Association, he found his professional name already taken. Not to be put out, he agonised for literally hours before plumping for his American stage moniker - hence Nick Berg Barnes was born. Nick's work in the USA includes playing a Lutheran minister opposite Sigourney Weaver in the film version of the 9/11 play The Guys; a whirlwind tour from Kansas to New York of the acclaimed Aquila Theatre's productions of Twelfth Night (as the drunken sot Sir Toby Belch) and a new physical-theatre based adaptation of HG Wells' The Invisible Man (as the wily tramp Marvel); appearing as Michael in a revival of Frank McGuinness' play about three political prisoners in Lebanon, Someone Who'll Watch Over Me at The Tank on 42nd Street; and following a contribution to Finding JM Barrie - the Mint Theatre's annual benefit performance at Playwright's Horizons - he “triggered the audience’s adrenaline” with a “fine comic turn” as The Auctioneer in their successful revival of the Galsworthy classic The Skin Game at the Mint’s new theatre space in Manhattan.

Nick then spent an extended period down in Raleigh, North Carolina playing both Petruchio as “Steve Irwin on steroids” in Burning Coal’s Zen-inspired production of The Taming of the Shrew and the alcoholic writer Joe in their revival of Jerry Oster’s 90 in 90; he also spent a few days holed up in a mobile-home as the retarded romantic Bill in Broken, the debut feature about love, loss and gnomes from writer/director Greg Winters; meanwhile his voice was to be heard extolling the virtues of the Spamalot Original Cast Recording on television sets across the country. Back in New York he has played John Worthing in The Importance of Being Earnest; a smooth spin-doctor turned Manhattan headmaster in Shadow; one of the tragic talking-heads in a new play about the redevelopment of a Welsh valley In The Pipeline, and the deceitful chemist Otto (and his pseudo-Spanish dinosaur-hunting alter-ego Lopez) in Carl Djerassi’s comic drama Phallacy.

2007 was a landmark year for Nick: he made his Broadway debut at the historic (and allegedly haunted) Belasco Theatre in the acclaimed revival of R C Sherriff’s World War One drama Journey’s End. In addition to the rave reviews it received: “who says perfection is not within human reach? go see Journey’s End and learn otherwise.” -- John Simon,; and being part of  “a terrific ensemble as fine as Broadway has seen in many a year” -- Clive Barnes, New York Post, the production swept the boards winning Best Play Revival awards from the Drama Desk, the Drama League, and the Outer Critics Circle, a special New York Drama Critics citation and ultimately the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play 2007. Unfortunately the size of the audience never matched the overwhelming critical response and the show ended its limited run after four months, but not before winning another prize; “Journey Boys – The Underdogs of War” was a comedy skit co-written by Nick and performed at the Minskoff Theatre as part of the annual Easter Bonnet Competition to raise funds for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. Spoofing the show’s inability to draw a bigger crowd, “We have an intimate relationship with the audience: 11 of us, 11 of them!”, it was awarded first place and the cast were presented with their commemorative plaque by Vanessa Redgrave and David Hyde Pierce in a ceremony that was just as thrilling as going onstage at Radio City Music Hall to receive the Tony Award. The rest of the year was spent in a more sedate manner playing Doctor Watson in Sherlock Holmes – The Final Adventure, Steven Dietz’s original take on the world’s greatest detective, both in upstate New York at Rochester’s Geva Theatre and thence to the Cleveland Playhouse in Ohio.

Since then, Nick has chosen to focus much more on his writing, although he made occasional appearances back in Manhattan, firstly opposite Kathleen Chalfant and Lisa Harrow in Don DeLillo’s three-person play about climate change: The Word for Snow as part of the Earth Day Humanities Festival, and then as a curmudgeonly Brit bewildered by New York in The Birds of Leighton Road for celebrated off-Broadway company The New Group; finally in 2011, to celebrate his 40th year in showbusiness, he returned to Burning Coal Theatre in North Carolina to work with multi-award winning British playwright David Edgar on a revival of his play about the collapse of communism The Shape of the Table, and followed that up with his theatrical swansong: starring with "frightening intensity" as Jeff Skilling in their smash hit production of Lucy Prebble's Enron.

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