Orton, Rothko and Golightly share the spotlight
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is, without a doubt, the headline show of London’s busy autumn season. The smart production team is headed by playwright Samuel Adamson (“Southwark Fair,” “All About My Mother”), who is adapting Truman Capote’s celebrated 1958 novella. The only borrowing from the movie is the Henry Mancini theme song, the masterpiece of melancholy that is “Moon River.”
Anna Friel (TV’s “Pushing Daisies,” “Closer” on Broadway) stars as Holly Golightly opposite Joseph Cross (“Running With Scissors,” “Milk”) in his U.K. debut. Designed by Anthony Ward (Sam Mendes’ the Bridge Project and Tony winner for “Mary Stuart”), the show is helmed by Sean Mathias, whose “Waiting for Godot” with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart enjoys an SRO run at the theater.
Mathias is a.d. of the Theater Royal Haymarket Company, a post awarded annually by the theater’s chairman, Arnold Crook. The latter is buoyant about the show’s prospects.
“It’s produced by Colin Ingram,” Crook says, “but it’s very much part of our season with Sean after the storming success of his ‘Waiting for Godot.’ There has yet to be a vast amount of promotion, but bookings are already healthy. By the end of August there will be much more publicity, which should further massage the box office.”
Skedded to run until February, “Breakfast” will close to make way for Mathias’ third and final show of the season. Lips remain, at this point, firmly sealed as to what that will be.
The plays of the late British theater bad boy Joe Orton are often revived in the West End, but his latest return comes with a twist. Opening Sept. 30, “Prick Up Your Ears” is the Orton story but this time told from the perspective of Kenneth Halliwell, his lover and eventual murderer.
Sonia Friedman, Kim Poster and Lee Menzies have teamed to produce Simon Bent’s biodrama based exclusively on Orton’s diaries and letters — not the Stephen Frears movie scripted by Alan Bennett. Matt Lucas, co-creator/star of the BBC comedy series “Little Britain” plays Halliwell opposite Chris New, who almost stole Friedman’s revival of “Bent” from his more famous co-star, Alan Cumming. Both shows are the work of hotshot helmer Daniel Kramer.
Reality TV casting also is back, though looking slightly less opportunistic. Jim Cartwright’s award-winning comedy “The Rise and Fall of Little Voice” needs a young lead able to mimic the voices of Garland, Bassey, Holliday and the like. Step forward Diana Vickers, discovered on Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor.”
“When Jim told me he had found the perfect girl — and then dragged me off to Wembley to see Diana Vickers perform as part of the ‘X Factor’ tour, I thought he’d gone mad,” says producer Nica Burns. “But when I saw Diana, I knew immediately he was right; she has a special quality. When she finally agreed — after much persuasion — to come in and read for us, we found out that not only can she sing but she was an intuitive actress as well.”
Cartwright agrees: “The moment she read the part, it was magic. A frisson ran through the room. Diana Vickers is the real deal. She is Little Voice.”
Songs may be part of that show, but full-blown, homegrown tuner productions are in short supply. The Menier Chocolate Factory will revive “Sweet Charity” at Christmas, but the greatest expectations surround the first U.K. revival in 17 years of “Annie Get Your Gun.”
Previewing at the innovate Young Vic theater from Oct. 3, the production is helmed by Richard Jones, the U.K.’s most commandingly idiosyncratic theater and opera director — his production of “Titanic” won five Tonys, and he has four Oliviers, including one for his startlingly original London premiere of “Into the Woods.”
His Annie is Jane Horrocks, starring opposite Julian Ovenden, the British actor — and mellifluous tenor — who made a splash in Gotham opposite Nathan Lane in “Butley” and gave the standout performance in Boublil and Schonberg’s recent flop tuner, “Marguerite.”
Following Jonathan Munby’s eagerly awaited revival of Calderon’s Spanish Golden Age drama “Life Is a Dream,” starring Dominic West (“The Wire”) Oct. 8-Nov. 28, the Donmar Warehouse crowns its season with the world premiere of “Red” by dramatist and Oscar-nommed screen scribe John Logan (“Never the Sinner,” “The Aviator”).
“It’s the most exciting new play that’s come to the Donmar since ‘Frost/Nixon,’ ” says Donmar a.d. and helmer of the play Michael Grandage, who has programmed the two-hander into the venue’s longest production slot — 11 weeks starting Dec. 3 — and cast it to strength with Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne.