Curtain up. Then watch the ad. Before the show begins.
British actress Parminder Nagra appeared Tuesday on a New York stage as part of a live commercial to promote tourism in London.
Nagra, who stars on NBC’s “ER,” made a cameo appearance with a troupe organized by the British tourism group Visit London. The commercial, which already has been performed at theaters in Hamburg and Dublin, was to make its New York debut Tuesday night before a performance of “Stomp” at the Orpheum Theatre.
After a rehearsal earlier in the day, Nagra offered her opinions on what New Yorkers with a limited amount of time might do in London.
“I’d say, ‘Get a good curry because it’s becoming the national dish, see Buckingham Palace and have a round of Trafalgar Square’,” said the native of Leicester, England. “You can just about do that in a day.”
The three-minute theatrical commercial promotes other London sights through a conversation between a couple discussing their honeymoon plans and an actress planted in the audience who talks to her daughter on a cell phone about a visit to the city.
“You’re making more noise than an ER on a Friday night,” Nagra, also known for the movie “Bend It Like Beckham,” says in her cameo, standing up from her seat and shushing the actor.
At a performance of the commercial Friday in Pittsburgh, a cameo appearance is planned for Hal Sparks, a cast member of Showtime’s “Queer as Folk,” originally a British TV series.
Each script is site-specific to the city the commercial visits. “I know you love the Guggenheim, so you’re going to love the Tate Modern,” the daughter says to her mother on the phone in the New York version.
In an interview, Nagra said she enjoyed doing the live commercial because she feels passionate about London.
“In big cities, you feel the buzz,” she said.
That’s the point, according to Ken Kelling, communications director for the tourism group. He said the live commercials target theatergoers because they “are in the right frame of mind.”
“It’s not just putting up a picture of Big Ben and saying, ‘Come to London,”’ he said.
Like other major cities, London suffered from the slump in air travel that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States. But visitors have returned, and last year the city was host to 28.5 million visitors.