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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 14:34 GMT
West End plea from West Wing star
Richard Schiff
Schiff's play Underneath the Lintel opens in London next year
West Wing actor Richard Schiff, soon to make his West End debut in a one-man show, has called on audiences to give musicals a break and see plays instead.

"Go see a straight play and see how you like it," said the actor, whose play Underneath the Lintel opens next year.

Citing current hit Frost/Nixon, he said "people who would rather see a frickin' musical are out of their minds".

"It's tragic if people would rather see the 403rd version of Cats instead of that," he told the BBC News website.

Peter Morgan's play dramatises TV presenter David Frost's 1977 interviews with former US president Richard Nixon.

Straight plays are seen to be under threat in the West End due to rising costs, declining ticket sales and the influx of big-budget musicals.

'Chorus line of one'

Schiff, who played the irascible Toby Ziegler in the long-running White House-based TV series, joked that he would attempt to "work in some choreography" into his play to attract audiences.

"I'll see if we can't do a little chorus line of one," he added.

Cast members of The West Wing at the 2000 Emmys
Schiff (r) won an Emmy for his long-running role in The West Wing
However, he said he was not daunted by the prospect that his play might not find favour with theatregoers.

"If you're called to do something you've got to go ahead and do it, regardless of what the possibilities of success are," he said.

In Underneath the Lintel, Schiff adopts a Dutch accent to play a small-town librarian perplexed by the return of a book that is 113 years overdue.

Written by Glen Berger, the play - first staged off-Broadway in 2001 - opens at the Duchess Theatre next February.

Built around the fictional presidency of Martin Sheen's Josiah "Jed" Bartlet, The West Wing ran for seven series before coming to an end earlier this year.

Schiff, 55, won an Emmy in 2000 for his role as the White House communications director.

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