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West End slate grows

Three shows set moves to London

The West End’s dance card for later this year is filling up with the announcement of three incoming productions, including a transfer of a Shakespeare double bill toplined by Mark Rylance.

Also on tap is a London move for the Royal Shakespeare Company staging of a new play by David Edgar (“Nicholas Nickleby”), as well as a revival of Joe Orton’s 1967 farce “What the Butler Saw.”

As previously tipped in Variety, frequent trans-Atlantic producer Sonia Friedman will move twinned Shakespeare’s Globe stagings of “Richard III” and “Twelfth Night,” both starring Rylance, to the West End in the fall.

Initially opening at Shakespeare’s Globe (July 14-Oct. 14), the period-style productions featuring all-male casts will play a 13-week season at the West End’s Apollo Theater beginning Nov. 2. Stephen Fry has been added to the cast, playing Malvolio in “Twelfth Night” opposite Rylance as Olivia.

The productions, helmed by Tim Carroll, continue the working relationship between Friedman and Rylance that has includes “Boeing-Boeing,” “La Bete” and “Jerusalem.” All three were London hits that went on to Gotham stints, with Rylance picking up a Tony each for his perfs in “Boeing-Boeing” and “Jerusalem.”

Also joining the West End’s upcoming slate is the RSC production of Edgar’s “Written on the Heart,” transferring from the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home to the West End’s Duchess Theater for a limited run beginning April 19.

Producers Bill Kenwright (“Blood Brothers”) and Thelma Holt will move the show, which played the RSC in the fall. Set 400 years ago, Edgar’s play examines the religious and political divisions that arose over the controversial first English translation of the King James Bible.

Helmed by Gregory Doran, the play will be the second RSC show on the boards in the West End, joining the hit transfer of tuner “Matilda,” currently eyeing a Broadway berth.

Also set for this year is a new production of “What the Butler Saw” at the West End’s Vaudeville Theater, starting a limited run May 16.

Produced by MJE Prods., co-producers of the West End and Gotham-bound tuner “Ghost,” the show is headlined by British-Iranian thesp-standup Omid Djalili (“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “The Love Guru”). The production is helmed by Sean Foley, who also directed the hit legit version of “The Ladykillers” currently running at the West End’s Gielgud Theater.

Further casting for “Butler,” running May 4-Aug. 25, has yet to be announced.

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