Make that one more solo show on Broadway this spring. But this one isn't autobiographical, and while the actor involved is—like Elaine and Bea and Barbara—up there in years, he's a he, and he's British.
The Simon Callow vehicle, The Mystery of Charles Dickens, a play by Peter Ackroyd, will begin previews April 18 at the Belasco Theatre. 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 the Tony Award cutoff.
The Mystery of Charles Dickens returned to the Albery Theatre in London, where it 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.
Callow is also a director and biographer of note. His 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. 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, who worshipped the stage and often toyed with acting, would no doubt approve.) Patrick Garland directed.
—By Robert Simonson