LONDON TICKET -- FEBRUARY
OVER HERE: A strong New Year for Americans in London: Among the visiting all-stars is Woody Allen, due to make his British debut as a clarinetist when he plays a Festival Hall concert in March with his New Orleans Jazz Band. Then there's Mike Nichols, who makes his British acting debut in April at the National Theatre, where he stars for director David Hare in a new Wallace Shawn play, "The Designated Mourner." Later we get Jessica Lange, who makes her London stage debut for Sir Peter Hall in September, playing Blanche DuBois in "A Streetcar Named Desire," the role she played on Broadway three seasons ago.
Speaking of Tennessee Williams, Vanessa Redgrave has uncovered a "previously unknown play" of his with which she plans to tour Britain this year; she and her brother Corin have also now allied their Moving Theatre Company to Houston's Alley Theatre, and that will result in two new productions opening this month in Houston: Vanessa in "Antony and Cleopatra" and Corin in "Julius Caesar"; both productions will later come to Britain.
With Jeanne Moreau still strongly rumored for Callas in "Master Class," other first-time visitors to the London stage include Christine Andreas and Joel Higgins (for "Fields of Ambrosia") and F. Murray Abraham, who won the Oscar for "Amadeus," to star as Tolstoy opposite Jane Lapotaire in a new play about the great Russian novelist.
HOLLYWOOD HEROES: Old American movies are proving a rich source of new West End shows; there's "Tommy," of course, coming into the Shaftesbury this month, but we also get a new Harold Pinter staging of "Twelve Angry Men" with Timothy West and a cast of all stars, while "A Few Good Men" will star David Soul on a national tour this summer. It also looks like being a good year for new thrillers, with Anthony Andrews rumored for a long-awaited stage return in his fellow actor Simon Williams's whodunit, while Donald Sinden stars for his producer son Marc in N. J. Crisp's "That Good Night," which tours, comes to London and then gets made for television all in the same six-month period.
Michael Ball leads the London cast of "Passion," while Petula Clark goes back into "Sunset Boulevard" for the whole of the rest of this year. Philip Schofield brings "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" back to London after a long tour, while also in from the road comes Ned Sherrin's joyous revival of Julian Slade's 1950's collegiate classic, "Salad Days."
The National moves into its final season under Richard Eyre, who will go out with an Ian Holm "King Lear" and a revival of the musical that was his calling card a decade ago, "Guys and Dolls." We also get Isabelle Hupert and Anna Massey in "Mary Stuart" and Paul Scofield as "John Gabriel Borkman," but still a very open field on Eyre's successor.
-- By Sheridan Morley