2003: The Year Ahead in London Theatre

News   2003: The Year Ahead in London Theatre If there's been one safe prediction about West End theatre over the last few years, it's that Sir Noël Coward, who died 30 years ago in March, would still be packing them in to his plays.

The new year starts with a Coward at the Donmar — his early hit, The Vortex. There's also another twenties playwright — Somerset Maugham — on Shaftesbury Avenue, until Jan. 11, with Home and Beauty.

And in a sure sign of the continued appeal of the classic writers of the inter war period, Trevor Nunn is set to leave the National Theatre with a massive hit on his hands — Cole Porter's 1934 musical, Anything Goes.

Nunn's final production will be Love's Labour's Lost , starring Joseph ("Shakespeare in Love") Fiennes, while a recently attributed Shakespeare play, Edward III , is currently running in rep in the commercial West End, as part of the Kenwright/Holt Jacobean season at the Gielgud. So, it looks as though Shakespeare will continue to be a crowd-puller, which can only be good news for the RSC, which this years changes hands from Adrian Noble to Michael Boyd.

Changing hands is going to be something of a regular theme in 2003, with Nicholas Hytner taking over the National, Michael Attenborough the Almeida, and Michael Grandage continuing to establish himself at the Donmar.

Grandage may have started with a Coward but is proving his love of European drama with productions of Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Albert Camus' Caligula . There will be plenty of new writing seen in the West End, often coming on, in the traditional way, from Edinburgh, as is the case with Morris Panych's Auntie and Me which, starring Alan Davies, opens at Wyndham's on Jan. 14.

Another Edinburgh hit transferring to the West End is Zipp!, in which Gyles Brandreth and colleagues gallop through a century of musicals in 90 minutes and leave the audience breathless but happy. Zipp! opens at the Duchess on Feb. 4.

The mixture of old and new continues later in February when, on Feb. 25, Arsenic and Old Lace opens at the Savoy. A classic movie starring Cary Grant, this tale of murderous old dears will make an interesting variation on the Savoy's frequent programming of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas — currently HMS Pinafore , starring Clive ("Dad's Army ") Dunn.