LONDON TICKET -- September 1996
0VER HERE: A truly wondrous year for American stage talent around the West End: Sharon Gless recently in Neil Simon's Chapter Two; the original TV The Odd Couple, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, in a sold-out summer season of Simon's comedy classic; Gene Wilder about to appear in the London premiere of Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor; Kevin Kline rumored for the long-awaited West End opening of Maury Yeston's Nine; and Jessica Lange due into the National in October in a reprise of her Broadway A Streetcar Named Desire.
In the category of Broadway imports with no casting or opening dates yet agreed, come How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, Beauty and the Beast, The Goodbye Girl and The Secret Garden, while Cameron Mackintosh has plans to stage Mary Poppins, and Andrew Lloyd Webber is promising a first-ever staging of the classic Judy Garland / James Mason musical A Star Is Born.
Leiber and Stoller's Smokey Joe's Cafe will be over here next month, and I have hopes that a brilliant little Randy Newman anthology, Roll with the Punches, will make it to the West End from the fringes of Kilburn's Tricycle Theatre.
BERKOFF BITES BACK: The controversial actor-author-director-movie villain Steven Berkoff has taken over the long-dark Mermaid Theatre starring in and directing Coriolanus. He plans to stay there for an ambitious year-long season, which will also feature his Brighton Beach Scumbags, O'Neill's The Hairy Ape and Kafka's The Trial. Asked if he minded his theatre being off the beaten track, he characteristically noted, "I'm delighted to be off the West End, that ghastly huddle where ill-equipped Victorian theatres cluster like flies over a rotting corpse." Better perhaps just to be a fabulous invalid like Broadway.
FRINGE BENEFITS: The Almeida in Islington, currently the most fashionable stage of the fringe, has a stunning line-up for the fall: Diana Rigg and David Suchet in Albee's Who's Afraid
of Virginia Woolf?,
Jonathan Miller directing A Midsummer Night's Dream, Ralph Fiennes in David Hare's new adaptation of Ivanov, and following the solo show tradition that this year has already given us Irene Worth and Mandy Patinkin, we soon get a new cabaret from Marianne Faithfull. -- By Sheridan Morley