Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

London theatre update ...

Two interesting new productions coming up, after recently seeing revivals of MOJO in the west end, and the hilarious ONCE A CATHOLIC up in the wilds of Kilburn High Road (see Theatre label). Fascinating to see Angela Lansbury at 88 back on the London stage, in a new production of Noel Coward's BLITHE SPIRIT, which she played a year or two ago on Broadway with Rupert Everett (below), whom we liked here last year as Oscar Wilde in David Hare's THE JUDAS KISS - as per reviews at Theatre label. Madame Arcati is quite a physical role, if not a very big one, as played by Margaret Rutherford in David Lean's perfect film of the play in 1946. 

Angela of course has been a favourite of ours for a long time, as per label, in movies since 1944 - the year before I was born - and must have worked with just about everyone, from being mean to Judy Garland in THE HARVEY GIRLS in 1946, to co-starring with Tracy and Hepburn in STATE OF UNION in 1948, often playing much older than her years. In the '50s she co-starred in programmers with Randolph Scott and Tony Curtis, as well as with Danny Kaye in the still funny THE COURT JESTER, with the Harrisons (Rex and Kay Kendall) in Minnelli's THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE in 1958 - a firm favourite here, below - and with Sophia Loren and so many more, with Lee Remick in THE LONG HOT SUMMER in '58, Sondheim's ANYONE CAN WHISTLE in '64 and a tv movie THE GIFT OF LOVE ...then there was her trio of fearsome mothers, to Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Brandon de Wilde in another favourite, Frankenheimer's 1962 ALL FALL DOWN, which in turn led to her monster mother of zombie Laurence Harvey in Frankenheimer's enduring classic (no, I didn't want to see the remake) THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, also 1962. Frankenheimer had to convince Sinatra that she would be right for the role, despite being just 3 years older than Harvey!.
We saw her in London several times in the '70s - At the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) in Albee's ALL OVER in 1972, sharing the stage with Peggy Ashcroft as respectively the mistress and wife of a dying tycoon; she also did a GYPSY which I somehow missed, but we saw her at the BFI's National Film Theatre for one of those Q&A afternoon sessions, where she was a big draw. Luckily we got our tickets in time. I am sure everyone will want to see her now in BLITHE SPIRIT. I never watched her MURDER SHE WROTE series at the time, being too young for that kind of stuff and out a lot, but its amusing catching up with them now, if only for the amazing guest stars. She also lived in Ireland for some time - she is a perfect Irish granny in the 2004 film of Colm Toibin's THE BLACKWATER LIGHTSHIP.. We like also her hilarious turn in 1970's SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE, an instant gay classic ! as per reviews at Angela, Michael York, gay interest labels).

Away from the west end, fringe theatre has another interesting offering: a new play at the small space upstairs at the famous Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square. THE PASS by John Donnelly is about gay footballers who stay in the closet at what cost to themselves  .... a hot potato here, as hardly any main Premier League footballers have come out. It may be rather different for Tom Daley in the more rarified world of swimming and diving.  It has been getting good reviews and may be sold out. I can only see tickets on offer for day release at 9.00am on-line for Mondays, so we will try and get some for sometime in Feburary, it is currently only on until 1 March.

The attraction here is the lead is played by one of our best known out actors, Russell Tovey - one of THE HISTORY BOYS and busy on television (popping up in that new series LOOKING as well). 
It is about two footballers and how they change over 3 acts, also featuring the Tovey character's wife and an eager hotel bellboy. 
 I was last at the Theatre Royal Upstairs back in 1968, when 22, for a gayish production called A GAME CALLED ARTHUR, with another young actor going places - young Timothy Dalton, who in that small space, was right in front of me. He was one of the most stunning men ever - a few months later of course he opened in THE LION IN WINTER.

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