In a sudden reversal of last week's announcement that Michael Crawford would make his West End musical comeback in Cameron Mackintosh's stage adaptation of The Witches of Eastwick, it has now been reported on the about.com website that Ian McShane will take the lead role in the new musical.
McShane appeared on the London stage in the '60s in such productions as Joe Orton's Loot. Since then, he has concentrated mainly on television.
Eastwick is based on the novel by John Updike, and is due to open at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, on June 13, 2000, following previews from May 26. McShane will play devil incarnate Darryl Van Horne, played by Jack Nicholson in the 1987 Warner Brothers film.
Crawford achieved international fame in 1986 in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, but has not appeared in a new stage show since.
Final casting has not been announced though it is reported that Crawford will be joined by Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Desi Arnaz and American comedienne Lucille Ball, and West End stars Joanna Riding and Maria Friedman as the trio of bored, devil-loving New England women played by Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer in the film. The Witches of Eastwick has book and lyrics by John Dempsey and Dana Rowe, whose musical The Fix premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in 1997. The show will be directed by Eric Schaeffer, designed by Bob Crowley and choreographed by Bob Avian with orchestrations are by William D Brohn, sound design by Andrew Bruce and lighting design by Howard Harrison.
Prior to the opening of the new production, the auditorium of the Theatre Royal will be architecturally remodelled, giving it a new seating configuration. The current capacity of 2,240 seats will be reduced to 1,650 to maximise intimacy.
For further information, contact the box office on 011-44-171-494 5000.