Bridge Project hits roadblock

Dillane pulls out, delaying launch by a year

The Bridge Project, an ambitious initiative designed to span the London and New York legit communities, has hit a snag with the withdrawal of actor Stephen Dillane from Sam Mendes’ inaugural productions, delaying the launch by a year.

A joint venture between Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Kevin Spacey-helmed Old Vic and Mendes’ Neal Street Prods., the three-year series of classic works was announced in April, planning to kick off with Dillane starring in rep in Mendes’ stagings of “The Tempest” and “Hamlet.”

The Shakespeare double was to begin rehearsals at BAM in the fall for a January-March New York run, followed by a season at Milan’s Piccolo Teatro in April and a London engagement at the Old Vic beginning in May.

Due to personal reasons arising from a family illness, Dillane has stepped out of the project’s initial cycle. However, producers remain hopeful the collaboration will be resumed at a future date.

Debut productions for Bridge now will become “The Winter’s Tale” and “The Cherry Orchard,” with Mendes directing Simon Russell Beale as Leontes in the Shakespeare romance, and as Lopakhin in Chekhov’s drama.

Those stagings will follow the same New York-London timetable a year later than the planned launch, premiering at BAM in January 2009. Involvement of the Piccolo or another international partner remains uncertain.

Spacey is considering appearing in a subsequent season production but no schedule or possible titles have been confirmed. The transatlantic series is made possible by a joint arrangement between U.S. and U.K. Equity.

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