ADDRESSES: Agent—Nicki Stoddart, PFD, Drury House, 34-43 Russell Street, London WC2B 5HA, England.
CAREER: Actor and writer. Actor in stage productions, including Ain't Misbehavin', London, England, 1995; Jesus Christ Superstar, Barbican, London; Mass Carib; Little Willies Jr.; Miss Saigon, London's West End; King; Hair; Children of Eden; Starlight Express, Apollo Victoria Theatre, London; Five Guys Named Moe; Sweeney Todd, Holland Park Theatre, London; Happy End, Nottingham Playhouse, Nottingham; Two Trains Running, Tricycle Theatre, London; Blues for Mr. Charlie, Royal Exchange, Manchester; Lion King, London, England; The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber; Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Royal Albert Hall Celebration, London, England, 1998; and 125th Street, London, England, 2002. Actor in films, including (as Shake) The Apple (also known as Star Rock), Cannon Films, 1980; (as Jeff Kane) Young Soul Rebels, Ibero Films Internacional, S.A., 1991; (as Murray) Velvet Goldmine, Miramax, 1998; and Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Royal Albert Hall Celebration, PolyGram Video, 1998. Played Darbo in made-for-television movie Pirate Prince, 1993. Producer of audio recordings for Steve Williamson and Dark Secret; manager of pop group Damage.
Iced (novel; also see below), Random House (New York, NY), 1993.
Iced (play; based on novel of the same name), produced in London, England, 1998.
White Folks (musical), produced in London, England, 2002.
Also author (and director and producer) of plays Flat-share, Frederick Avery Visits, and Street Angels.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Tender, a novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Although best known as an actor, Ray Shell is also the author of a novel, Iced, and a play of the same name based on the novel. Both the novel and the play feature a forty-something black man's retrospective of how drugs led him to give up a promising future as a lawyer and to kill several people, including a two-month-old baby he threw from a roof while trying to extort money for the baby's safe return. In the play it is this last crime which sends the man, Cornelius Washington Jr., to prison, where the action opens. On stage, his reminisces are framed by conversations with the prison psychiatrist; the novel is structured as a diary. Iced the novel, as Benedict Nightingale wrote in the London Times, "reportedly became one of the most shoplifted books in publishing history," and the stage version was also praised by critics. "There is some magnificent prose on display" in the scenes of Iced where Washington describes what it feels like to be high: "sheer, cold and snapping off like vast shards from the face of an iceberg," Ian Shuttleworth wrote in the Financial Times.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 32, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2000.
Financial Times, January 27, 1998, review of Iced, p. 19.
New Statesman, October 22, 1993, Laurence O'Toole, review of Iced, p. 40.
New Yorker, July 18, 1994, review of Iced, p. 81.
Publishers Weekly, June 12, 1995, Paul Nathan, "From Seminar to Contract," p. 18.
Spectator, January 21, 1995, Sheridan Morley, review of Ain't Misbehavin', pp. 44-45.
Times Literary Supplement, November 5, 1993, Holly Eley, review of Iced, p. 19.
Variety, April 4, 1984, review of Starlight Express, p. 84.
125th Street Web site,http://www.125thstreet.co.uk/ (February 27, 2003), "Ray Shell."
Borkowski PR Web site,http://www.borkowski.co.uk/ (August 5, 2002), "125 Streets Ahead."
Fire and water,http://www.fireandwater.com/ (February 27, 2003), "Ray Shell."*