The first 50 ticket buyers at the Belasco Theatre 10 AM April 8 — when the box office for The Mystery of Charles Dickens opens — will receive "a free Charles Dickens masterpiece from Penguin Classics."
An acclaimed London solo vehicle for Simon Callow, The Mystery of Charles Dickens, by Peter Ackroyd, will begin previews April 18 at the Belasco. Callow will make his Broadway acting debut in Dickens (though he did direct Shirley Valentine in 1989), which is directed by Patrick Garland. The run will last 10 weeks.
The official opening is April 25, in time for Tony Award eligibility. Phone sales begin April 7. Call (212) 239-6200.
The Mystery of Charles Dickens returned earlier this year to the Albery Theatre in London, where it had enjoyed a run in 2000 after opening at the Comedy. Callow also scored a hit with an earlier one-man show, at the Savoy Theatre, on Oscar Wilde.
In the piece, also seen at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre in late 2001, Callow plays the celebrated Victorian novelist, as well as more than 40 of his creations, from Mr. Micawber ("David Copperfield") to Mrs. Gamp ("Martin Chuzzlewit") to Bill Sikes ("Oliver Twist") to Miss Havisham ("Great Expectations"). (Dickens worshipped the stage and often toyed with acting.) Callow's bravura style lends itself perfectly to a representation of Charles Dickens, an author who in real life made an art form — and a fortune — out of highly dramatic readings from his novels: his account of the brutal death of Nancy in Oliver regularly led to fainting fits among women in the audience.