LONDON — What’s happened to “Fallen Angels,” you may (well, maybe not) have found yourself asking of the Noel Coward revival that had been assumed to be a late entry in the current Broadway season. The answer: London producer Bill Kenwright has been busy pursuing a surprising pair of American stars — Annette Bening and Judith Ivey — to lead the veddy English play to New York in the fall.
The two women performed Coward’s 1923 play for radio outlet L.A. TheatreWorks some years ago and now are expected to open on Broadway sometime in the autumn at a Shubert house to be announced. Although precise dates and the exact length of run have yet to be pinned down, the production should arrive in New York after Kenwright’s other Broadway revival planned for the fall — a reprise of director Anthony Page’s West End “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” starring Ashley Judd and London’s formidable, Olivier-nommed Big Daddy, Ned Beatty.
“It’s very much an entertainment for today in that you just sit back and wallow,” Kenwright says of “Fallen Angels,” which seemed of late to have fallen by the wayside for New York as a clutch of Oscar- and Tony-winning star names came and went. In the U.K., director Michael Rudman’s production starred Felicity Kendal (aka Mrs. Rudman) and Frances de la Tour and was the unexpected smash of the 2000-01 West End season, playing to capacity for six months and succeeding where immediately previous London revivals of Coward’s “Hay Fever” and “Private Lives” — the one with Juliet Stevenson and Anton Lesser, not Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman — had sunk.
Assuming the current casting coup bears fruit, Bening would seem primed to play balletomane Julia Sterroll, with Ivey as the similarly well-heeled Jane Banbury. The characters’ link (apart for a fondness for oysters and boozy lunches)? Some time ago they shared a French lover, which means that, in the parlance of the day, both women have a “past.”
Two-time Oscar nominee Bening, aka Mrs. Warren Beatty, hasn’t appeared on Broadway since her career-making perf in 1987 in Tina Howe’s “Coastal Disturbances,” after which Hollywood quickly called (although she has worked on the L.A. stage). Ivey, on the other hand, is a New York stage regular with two Tonys to her name.
As in London, Paul Farnsworth will design and Rudman will direct, marking the U.K.-based Texan’s first Broadway credit since the sellout Dustin Hoffman-John Malkovich “Death of a Salesman” in 1984.
WHO GETS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?
It’s all relative, I suppose. Last year, Sir Cameron Mackintosh was worth £380 million ($604 million) and was the 73rd wealthiest person in the U.K. This year, his fortunes have fallen to £350 million ($556 million), and he is 87th on the list.
These and other related facts and figures have come to light courtesy of Britain’s March 2 Mail on Sunday newspaper, whose so-called “Rich Report 2003: The top 300 British millionaires” is essential reading. Mackintosh’s onetime colleague Andrew Lloyd Webber, for instance, has dropped 24 places, from 79th on the list to 103rd, his overall wealth now pegged by the paper at £310 million ($493 million). The impresario-composer, who during 2002 saw the end of the historic London runs of both “Cats” and “Starlight Express,” is doing considerably better than his Really Useful company. According to the special report, profits there have dropped from $18 million to a loss of $2.26 million.
And what of everyone’s favorite Anglo-American couples? Madonna and Guy Ritchie enter the charts at a joint 150th, or £210 million ($334 million), with Welshwoman Catherine Zeta-Jones and hubby Michael Douglas far behind at 189th, or £175 million ($278 million). That figure, of course, doesn’t include whatever final settlement is reached in the couple’s lawsuit against the magazine Hello! Ain’t love grand?
Caryl Churchill’s number is up: The ever-adventurous English dramatist looks set to be repped on Broadway in the fall, when her acclaimed London two-hander, “A Number,” now is aiming its N.Y. debut.
At first, hopes were high that Stephen Daldry’s Royal Court production — winner in November of the Evening Standard’s best play prize — might reach Broadway this spring, with London leads Michael Gambon and Daniel Craig hopefully along for the ride. But Gambon’s signing as the new Dumbledore (replacing the late Richard Harris) in the third Harry Potter film (currently shooting) put paid to that plan, while a possible (and bankable) replacement in Jim Broadbent went south when the Oscar-winning star of “Iris” reportedly passed on the role.
Cue the re-entry of Gambon, who, says Daldry, “wants me to wait for him” until the autumn — “and Daniel will wait as well.” In which case, let us hope “A Number” eventually adds up.