Kevin Spacey's Old Vic Looks to O'Neill, Shakespeare and Osborne

News   Kevin Spacey's Old Vic Looks to O'Neill, Shakespeare and Osborne
A determined Kevin Spacey announced a new season for London’s Old Vic Theatre, reviving works by Osborne, Ayckbourn, O’Neill and Shakespeare.

The Hollywood actor-turned-artistic director has taken a lot of criticism for his stewardship of the Old Vic Theatre Company whose last production, Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues, attracted an avalanche of bad reviews from London’s critics.

Spacey also announced the appointment of three associate directors, Edward Hall, Anthony Page and Matthew Warchus.

The Old Vic's third season under Spacey will kick off on Sept. 26 (previews begin Sept. 15) with O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten. The production will reunite Spacey and Howard Davies, who directed Spacey in O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh. That hugely successful 1999 revival, which transferred from the Almeida to the Old Vic and went on to Broadway, proved to be a landmark production.

The run for O’Neill’s play will finish before Christmas, and there are hopes that a successful production could transfer to Broadway. There will be no Christmas panto this year, though Stephen Fry’s new version of Cinderella will be staged at the Old Vic for Christmas 2007.

To see in the New Year, Spacey has brought in Edward Hall’s all-male Propeller company to stage in repertory Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night. Previews will begin Jan. 5, 2007. Perhaps the highest profile production of the season – along with the O’Neill play – is a revival of Osborne’s The Entertainer, directed by Sean Holmes and starring Robert Lindsay in the role of Archie Rice. Pam Ferris will join Lindsay onstage in the revival, which is being mounted in the play’s 50th anniversary year.

Either the third or fourth season — dates to be announced — will include a revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests, not seen on the London stage since its premiere in 1974 with Tom Courtenay. Each part of the trilogy, comprising Table Manners, Living Together and Round and Round in the Garden, is set in a different part of the same house.

Still further ahead, there are also plans for two new plays. One, provisionally called Londoners, is by Frank McGuiness and is set in the Old Vic itself, evoking the theatre’s music hall heritage. The other Bette and Joan, by Malcolm McKay, focuses on the relationship between the Hollywood icons Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Both works are products of the Old Vic New Voices project.

Reacting to criticism about his artistic directorship, some of it calling for him to step down in the wake of the theatre going dark for five months, Spacey said of his commitment to the Old Vic, "I will never, ever stop believing that this is a good idea." About the early closure of Resurrection Blues he said, "If it had happened at any other theatre, you wouldn't have read about it.”

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