Playbill Hosts Theatre-Lovers' Tour To London

Playbill Hosts Theatre-Lovers' Tour To London WITH SHERIDAN MORLEY

WITH SHERIDAN MORLEY

As your London critic and correspondent for almost 20 years, it is my great delight to announce the first Playbill On-Line tour for theatre lovers. In association with British Airways, Playbill now offers a comprehensive package featuring six nights in London and four shows of your choice.

Those shows will, of course, depend on the time of year you choose to come; but just to give you some idea of the riches on offer, you could see Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Sunset Boulevard" (now starring Petula Clark as Norma); Jim Dale as Fagin in "Oliver!"; Judi Dench, Patricia Hodge and Sian Phillips in Stephen Sondheim's lyrical "A Little Night Music"; a Sam Mendes-directed revival of Sondheim's "Company"; Boublil and Schönberg's new musical, "Martin Guerre", in addition to their long-running hits, "Miss Saigon" and "Les Misérables"; Willy Russell's "Blood Brothers" in the original production; Michael Gambon as the National's "Volpone"; celebrations of everyone from Al Jolson (Brian Conley in "Jolson") to Buddy Holly ("Buddy")Ðand that's just for starters.

Remember there are 40 mainstream theatres in central London, plus another 50 on the 3fringe2; not only will you be spoiled for choice, you'll be spoiled for accommodation, too. When you book, on a special playbill/British Airways line (1-800-222-7342), you'll be asked to nominate four shows you wish to see; you'll also be asked to choose a hotel from a list that includes the St. Giles, the Strand Palace, the Hampshire, the Waldorf and the Langham Hilton, all within easy reach of the West End and all offering a full English breakfast as part of the deal.

Then, one Tuesday or Wednesday during each tour, you'll be Playbill's guest for lunch at one of the hotels where you can ask questions about any aspect of the British theatre. I'll be your host, and hopefully I'll also have with me a leading actor or writer or director, so that we can re-create the Playbill theatre lunches that have become famous in New York. For an additional fee you can purchase travelers' protection insurance, and opt for a private car to meet you at the airport and return you there rather than the Hotelink bus. After booking, you will get a mailing from Playbill and British Airways, which will include your tickets and a detailed itinerary. The first 150 passengers to book also get a gift of a Playbill beach bag.

Flights leave from any one of 20 American cities and fly British Airways World Traveler Class to either London Heathrow or London Gatwick; travelers then are taken to their chosen hotels by their chosen method of transport.

Six nights? You'd better come for 60; but I look forward to seeing you here in the very heartland of all that's best in British and world theatre.

ON ARRIVAL AT THE HOTEL YOU'LL FIND:

* A seven-day travel card good for London buses and underground trains.

* A seven-day "white card," which gets you into major London museums and galleries.

* An entry ticket to the historic Theatre Museum in Covent Garden.

* A ticket for the backstage tour of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on its original site and due to open next summer.

* A ticket for the backstage tour of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

* Four dining vouchers, good for many of London's elegant gourmet restaurants or authentic pubs.

* A ticket for dinner at Centre Stage, London's newest late-night theatre cabaret venue.

-- By Sheridan Morley