London Ticket -- Oct. 1997
BROADWAY TO LONDON: Next year, all being well, we get Rent, The King and I, The Secret Garden, Fool Moon, Gypsy, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Bells Are Ringing. As yet, however, there's been ominously little word of a transfer for either of the two great new musicals of this past season, Titanic and The Life. The latter's director, Michael Blakemore, is, however, bringing over this fall his triple bill of plays by Woody Allen and Elaine May, Death Defying Acts, seen Off-Broadway a couple of years ago, though because of casting difficulties, the Neil Simon London Suite has been postponed until next spring. NEW LABOUR, MORE CASH?: Good news from the new government is that they are at last making some sense of where Lottery Revenue could most usefully go to help theatres and theatre companies, and that they will allow continued sponsorship of the arts from "controversial" alcohol and tobacco companies.
AUDIENCE ALERT: At least two opening nights this season have been effectively ruined for many theatregoers by others in the stalls carelessly leaving their mobile phones to ring and (in one case) actually carrying on a conversation at full volume with the unseen caller. Now the revered drama critic of the London Times, Ben Nightingale, has defined first nights as "the night audiences ruin shows by showing off," which at least updates George Jean Nathan's celebrated definition of them as "the night before a play is ready to open." Not surprisingly, there is now increased pressure for the separation of previews, press nights and first nights, so that only at the latter would you have to negotiate a foyer full of minor television celebrities trying to get themselves photographed by the tabloids.
-- By Sheridan Morley