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National books Lithgow

Actor joins winter slate of London theater

John Lithgow has lined up a toplining gig at London’s National Theater, where he’ll star in “The Magistrate,” one of the new offerings added to the Brit company’s upcoming winter slate.

Along with stints for helmers Marianne Elliott (“War Horse”) and Katie Mitchell, “Magistrate” (starting previews Nov. 14) joins a lineup that already includes “People,” a new Alan Bennett play starring Frances de la Tour, and Lucy Prebble’s “The Effect” toplined by Billie Piper.

Lithgow, whose recent Broadway perf in “The Columnist” netted him a Tony nom, will star with Nancy Carroll and Joshua McGuire in a production helmed by Timothy Sheader, whose staging of “Into the Woods” is currently playing in Central Park. Arthur Wing Pinero’s 1885 comedy centers on a magistrate (Lithgow) caught up in an escalating series of reputation-threatening scandals.

Elliott, whose National production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” recently won raves, will stage the 2002 play “Port” (beginning Jan. 22) by Simon Stephens, adapter of “Curious Incident.” Storyline follows two abandoned children as they grow up in suburban Manchester. Mitchell, meanwhile, will direct kids-theater outing “Hansel and Gretel” (starting Dec. 7) in a new adaptation she created with scribe Lucy Kirkwood.

Running as companion pieces to Bennett’s “People” (kicking off Oct. 31), with National a.d. Nick Hytner helming the cast led by de la Tour, are a couple of stagings of other Bennett texts, “Hymn” (Nov. 22) and “Cocktail Sticks” (Dec. 5), with Alex Jennings portraying the scribe in both pieces.

The National also has skedded a return holiday run of “The Animals and Children Took to the Streets” (Dec. 12) from theater troupe 1927, rounding out a lineup that also includes “The Effect” (Nov. 6), the Piper-toplined “clinical romance” by Prebble (“Enron”) and directed by Rupert Goold.

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