Theater company pacts with producer

LONDON — The Royal Shakespeare Co. has struck a five-year deal with producer Cameron Mackintosh to bring its plays to one of three Delfont Mackintosh playhouses in the West End.

Season kicks off later this year when the current Stratford lineup of comedies plays 16 weeks at the newly refurbished Novello (formerly the Strand) Theater, starting in December. The productions are, in sequence, “Twelfth Night,” “The Comedy of Errors,” “As You Like It” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Arrangement with Mackintosh allies the RSC to one of London’s expanding theater groups: Mackintosh now owns seven London playhouses, of which three will be possible homes for the RSC, depending on that particular season — the Novello, the Gielgud or the Albery (to be renamed the Noel Coward Theater by the end of 2006).

RSC exec director Vikki Heywood says plans are ongoing to find the company a permanent London home as it once had at the Aldwych Theater and then the Barbican. But for the next five years, at last, it now has a choice of homes.

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