Alan Bennett's The Lady in the Van, starring Maggie Smith, is still aiming at a Broadway debut in late 2002. The comic play, directed by Nicholas Hytner, opened at the Queen's Theatre in London on Dec. 7, 1999, after previews from Nov. 19. It closed on July 15, 2000.
A spokesperson at British producer Robert Fox's office said plans to bring the autobiographical play to New York were still underway, although no specific dates or theatre have been settled upon. Fox himself was on holiday and could not be reached for comment.
Many thought the whimsical, idiosyncratic play "too English" to make the leap to New York. Nonetheless, Fox is taking a chance. The play will mark Smith's first appearance on Broadway since Lettice and Lovage, a decade ago.
The work's fusty author, Alan Bennett, will also appear in the production. He will play himself—the play is autobiographical and features two dramatic versions, one public and active and one private and prone to commentary, of Bennett. The writer would play the latter role on Broadway. The venture won't be Bennett's first appearance on a New York stage, of course; he was a member of the famous "Beyond the Fringe" British comedy group, which scored a couple stage hits in the 1960s.
The Lady in the Van brings to life Bennett's book about the real-life character Miss Shepherd (played by Smith), a lady tramp who parked her camper van in the front garden of the author's home and stayed for fifteen years. Smith was nominated for a Best Actress Olivier this year for her performance. —By Robert Simonson