Mike Nichols isn't the only Broadway comedian from the '60s who's making a stage comeback these days--on London's West End.
Gene Wilder is going the same route via the London launching of Neil Simon's nostalgic comedy about his TV-writing debut, Laughter on the 23rd Floor--and, yes, he'll play Max Prince (the Sid Caesar role originated by Nathan Lane).
"The West End is something I've always wanted to do," Wilder admitted Sunday night at the Sardi's party that followed the Lyceum premiere of The Apple Doesn't Fall..., a comedy marking the Broadway-directing debut of his pal, Leonard Nimoy. "And when Laughter on the 23rd Floor was presented to me, I knew that was what I wanted to do there."
From this unexpected return to the stage, New York producers can correctly read that Wilder is likewise ready to come back to Broadway where his career had been focused until Bonnie and Clyde came along and kidnapped him almost 30 years ago, taking him into the movies exclusively. "If the property were right, I would do Broadway again," he said.
His only regret about his trip to London is that he'll be arriving too late to catch Nichols' current comeback stint in The Designated Mourner, a Wallace Shawn play directed by David Hare. He will, of course, have a chance to check out Lane's local progress--from Caesar to manservant (Pseudolus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, reopening on Broadway on Thursday).