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Helen Mirren Dons the Crown Again in Broadway’s ‘The Audience’

The Audience” marks Helen Mirren’s return to Broadway after almost 15 years, and on the play’s opening night March 8, the audience at “The Audience” was chuffed indeed to have her back.

After the show, in which Mirren revisits the role of the Queen of England at intervals that stretch across some 60 years of the monarch’s life, the starry crowd of glitterati — which included Neil Patrick Harris, David Geffen, Tyne Daly and David Hyde Pierce — paraded a few blocks south to midtown restaurant Urbo for the opening night party, in order to pay their respects to acting royalty.

Theatergoers weren’t just impressed by the performances of Mirren and the ensemble (including Dylan Baker and Judith Ivey) who played Elizabeth’s string of prime ministers. The crowd also buzzed about those impressive wigs.

Mirren alone has three or four. And Ivey has a Maggie Thatcher wig that’s a sight to behold.

“They call it candy floss,” Ivey said of the sculptural mass of hair she wears in the show. “Because you can see the light through it.”

In “The Audience” — written by Peter Morgan, as was “The Queen,” which won Mirren her Oscar — the actress gets to play Her Royal Highness in a wide range of moods and ages and time periods.

“It’s an incredible sense of continuity,” she said after the opening night performance. “She’s never wavered. She’s been there like a rock.”

Over the course of the play she dons a wide range of wigs, too, and, in a coronation scene, one great big crown. So how heavy lies that crown, anyway, Helen?

That crown is not too heavy,” she said of the one she wears in the show. “I’m sure the real one is heavy. But it’s not the weight of the crown, of course, but the weight of what the crown means.”

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