PASSING STAGES -- July, 1996
HALL OF FAME: Alongside the three Tony nominations (for himself as director, for the revival itself and for actor Martin Shaw) that Sir Peter Hall has collected for his superlative revival of Wilde's An Ideal Husband on Broadway, he has also a work list of unusual length even by his standards. In the West End he currently has a triumphant adaptation (by himself and his wife Nicki) of Feydeau's Mind Millie for Me, starring the gorgeous Felicity Kendal, and if the plot about a nineteenth-century coquette with the heart of pure steel sounds vaguely familiar, that's because the farce was done once before in English: Noël Coward called it Look After Lulu and directed it for Broadway with Tammy Grimes and for the West End with Vivien Leigh.
Next, Hall moves his Julius Caesar into the Barbican from Stratford, opens a new television movie, goes on to direct the BBC's 70th anniversary radio revival of Shaw's Man and Superman and then has Jessica Lange coming over for a long-delayed West End debut in A Streetcar Named Desire. And all of that before October.
AMERICANS ABROAD: Jessica Lange is by no means the only American due over in the next few months. Though F. Murray Abraham in his London debut as the star of James Goldman's Tolstoy collected, as did the play, some of the worst reviews of the year, we are still promised Tyne Daly in Gypsy, a local-star staging of How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, the Disney Beauty and the Beast, David Soul in The Aspern Papers and such all-American plays as Angels in America (in its first commercial staging), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (the rumors are Diana Rigg and Patrick Stewart), Master Class (Jeanne Moreau), The Heiress and Gene Wilder in the London premiere of Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor. No news yet of a London staging for Rent, though it's bound to come after that Pulitzer Prize, while our own musical summer is dominated by the long-awaited Martin Guerre and the revival of the Ayckbourn-Lloyd Webber By Jeeves.
WHODUNNIT? Those who have been desperate these last 50 years to find out the identity of the killer in The Mousetrap but cannot face seeing the actual play are at last in luck. The script is about to be published by Harper/Collins in an anthology of Dame Agatha Christie's work, despite a clause in her will demanding that it should not be in print until six months after the play closed. It is now reckoned, even by her family, that the clause should be deleted in view of the fact that the play clearly never will.
MUSICAL MEN: So you've a musical in your desk that just might be better than anything Cameron Mackintosh ever presented? Contact the Radio Concert Orchestra of Denmark, who is offering $100,000 for the New Musical of the Year. Conditions are that it must be in English with at least eight songs, five scenes and a real story line. Thus far they've received 66 from America, 52 from Denmark, 50 from Britain and 32 from Germany.