Barry James

Monsieur Firmin


Training: GSA.

Theatre includes: working with the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Company for two years and the NT for six-and-a-half years, playing principal parts in many productions, notably The Merchant of Venice with Laurence Olivier, A Woman Killed with Kindness and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. He has enjoyed long runs in the West End in Sancho Panza, Billy, as Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar and Murphy in Windy City. He also appeared in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Theatre Royal, York) and Take Eight (world premiere, Manchester Royal Exchange).

More recently, principal roles at the NT in The Rivals, Love for Love, The Threepenny Opera and The American Clock. In the West End he has starred as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors (Comedy), Mendel in March of the Falsettos (Albery), spent more than three years as Thénardier in Les Misérables (Palace) and played Otto Kringelein in Grand Hotel (Dominion). Regional theatre includes: Love Off the Shelf (Nuffield, Southampton), the Maltby/Shire revue Closer Than Ever (European premiere), The Baker in Sondheim’s Into the Woods (Library Theatre, Manchester) and, recently, Salad Days (tour). In 1994 he appeared as Beadle Bamford in Sweeney Todd (NT, Olivier Award nomination), followed by a long run as Ladislav Sipos in She Loves Me (Savoy, Olivier Award nomination). He also played Mr Bumble in Oliver! (Palladium) and Cogsworth in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (Dominion). In 2000, Barry returned to Les Misérables as Thénardier (Palace) and then played Amos Hart in Chicago alongside Denise Van Outen. He completed another run as Thénardier at the Palace in 2005-06. Recently, he returned to Little Shop of Horrors, this time as Mr Mushnik (Menier Chocolate Factory and West End), and played Herr Schultz in Rufus Norris’s production of Cabaret (Lyric).

Film and television include: Thriller, Porridge, The Merchant of Venice directed by Jonathan Miller, Shake Hands Forever (Inspector Wexford mystery) and Claudius in Further Up Pompeii with Frankie Howerd.

Recordings include: the recent version of My Fair Lady and Thénardier on the Grammy Award-winning Symphonic Les Misérables.