The reading series at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center will present “An Evening of Alan Bennett,” which will include scenes from the plays of award-winning British playwright, on Monday night, Jan. 7, at the Library’s newly renovated Bruno Walter Auditorium.
Participating artists will include Richard Easton, 2001 Tony winner for Best Actor in Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love; Hayley Mills, who made her Off-Broadway debut last year in the short-lived Noel Coward's Suite in Two Keys, an evening of two one-act plays, recently toured for a year and a half as Anna Leonowens in the 1997 revival of The King and I and TV, film and stage star Edward Hibbert ("Frasier").
The program will feature an American first, an excerpt from Bennett’s West End hit The Lady in the Van. Alan Pally, the Library’s manager of public programs and resident producer of the reading series, said permission had been granted by Bennett. The 1998 comedy, based on incidents in the playwright’s life, has yet to be produced in the U.S. despite British critical acclaim. It starred Dame Maggie Smith in the role of Miss Shepherd, an eccentric who claimed squatter’s rights in the driveway of his home in the trendy London section of Camden Town.
In addition, there will be excerpts from Single Spies (A Question of Attribution), Forty Years On, Kafka's Dick, The Old Country and, from Bennett’s parody for television, "The Pith and Its Pitfalls."
Bennett, in addition to numerous teleplays, is also the author of such plays as The Madness of George III, Habeas Corpus, and an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows.” He was also a member of the landmark British sketch troupe, Beyond the Fringe, which also enjoyed a Broadway stint. Easton, who is wowing audiences as Selsdon Mowbray, the drunken and slightly senile actor in Noises Off, after a distinguished career in the U.K. appeared on Broadway in School for Scandal with John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson and, among many others, Exit the King, The Misanthrope and Hamlet, in addition to Off Broadway and regional theater. For his portrayal of A.E. Housman in Invention of Love, Easton received the 2001 Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, Drama Desk and Tony Awards.
Mills, who is best known for her movies, made her American film debut in 1960's "Pollyanna," for which she received a special Academy Award. She followed in another Disney favorite, 1961’s "The Parent Trap."
Hibbert, who is know to sitcom fans for his role as the radio food critic and fussbudget on “Frasier,” is no stranger to the New York stage, having appeared in Julie Taymor’s The Green Bird, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Lady in the Dark (Encores!) and Jeffrey, for which he received an Obie and, in Los Angeles, a Drama-Logue Award. In addition, he has a host of regional and U.K. credits. He is currently co-starring as Frederick Fellowes opposite Faith Prince in Noises Off.
Admission to the 6:30 p.m. Bennett reading is free. Seating is on a first-come/first-served basis. The suggested entrance is 40 Lincoln Center Plaza (111 Amsterdam Avenue at 65th Street) or you can enter through the Library entrance in Lincoln Center Plaza.