Nunn Sense at London's National Theatre

Nunn Sense at London's National Theatre LONDON TICKET -- May, 1996

LONDON TICKET -- May, 1996

So now we know: Puffs of white smoke from the roof of the National Theatre, plus the obligatory press conference, have revealed that the successor to Richard Eyre next summer, and therefore the fourth director of the National after Laurence Olivier, Peter Hall and Eyre himself, is to be Trevor Nunn, former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. In fact, once he rather belatedly put his hat in the ring, there wasn't much of a contest. None of the other front runners (Sam Mendes of the Warehouse, Nick Hytner of The Madness of King George, Jude Kelly of the West Yorkshire Playhouse‹the first woman ever to be in National contention‹and Stephen Daldry of the Royal Court) could begin to match Nunn's experience in running a major national company.

Even so, the British press was somewhat grudging: Some said that Nunn in his mid-fifties was already too old for the job; others complained that his track record in finding new authors is a little shaky, while a third and still bitchier complaint was that in view of the millions Nunn has made directing most of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Boublil/Schönberg musicals, he shouldn't just run the National but go right ahead and buy it.

LOST AND FOUND: Another highly promising summer is expected for Ian Marshall Fisher's "Discover the Lost Musicals" Sunday-afternoon series at the Barbican. This year's rediscovered shows are Cole Porter's Out of This World, Jerome Kern's Sweet Adeline, the British premiere of the Gershwins' Of Thee I Sing, Porter's Panama Hattie, and I Can Get It for You Wholesale, the first of Barbra Streisand's Broadway shows.

MARTIN GUERRE: The long-awaited Boublil/Schönberg musical at last has opening dates and a cast. Following previews from June 1, it opens at the Prince Edward on June 18 with Iain Glen (a former Henry V for the RSC) in the title role and newcomer Juliette Caton as the wife who suspects her "husband" may not be the man he says he is. CHICHESTER '96: Duncan Weldon (as producer) and Sir Derek Jacobi (as artistic adviser) are promising a strong summer at the Sussex Festival Theatre. Alan Bates and his son Benedick will star in Simon Gray's Simply Disconnected, a 20-years-on sequel to The Common Pursuit, while Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack, reunited from Lettice & Lovage, will star for Alan Bennett in his own production of his Talking Heads.

Jacobi himself will star with Alec McCowen and Frances Barber in Uncle Vanya, Harriet Walter will be Hedda Gabler, Pat Routledge stars in a life of Beatrix Potter, and there will also be premieres of new plays from Ronald Harwood and Alan Ayckbourn.

-- By Sheridan Morley