UK Roundup - Dreyfuss out, Lane in!

It's been a long week for Mel Brooks. With just days to go before The Producers was due to begin previews at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, a sudden unexpected announcement came that its star, Richard Dreyfuss, was to be replaced by Nathan Lane, the producers citing a 'shoulder injury' as the cause. But after a strange interview on the Frank Skinner Show, in which Dreyfuss told viewers 'don't see the show until after December' and an interview in the Evening Standard telling readers 'Please don't think that you're paying to see Richard Dreyfuss sing and dance because you'll only be pissed off', speculation was that there was far more behind his 'withdrawal'.


With Richard Dreyfuss' swift departure being so close to its opening, the news has certainly raised some questions - in particular whether this whole event was planned to spark publicity for the show, which isn't selling as well as other new hit The Woman in White. Tickets have been sold on the back of Dreyfuss' name and See tickets have supposedly received calls from customers wanting refunds. Nathan Lane, though a theatrical God on Broadway, is a relative unknown to the general public in Britain and therefore the box office draw will probably focus on Lee Evans, and also actor James Dreyfus who plays Carmen Dhia. Whilst the producers find another Max, Lane's contract takes him up to January 8th, after which he will take a short break before filming The Producers in Brooklyn.

Sheffield Theatres, a three-venue complex in north England, has announced that actor-director Samuel West will succeed Michael Grandage as artistic director. Grandage - who was officially only an associate director - was running the theatres concurrently with the Donmar Warehouse in London, with whom he will co-produce and direct a revival of Guys and Dolls next year. Samuel West – the son of Prunella Scales and Timothy West – has many film and stage credits to his name; notably Hamlet last year at the RSC, for which he won the Critics' Circle Award for Best Shakespearean Performance. He is set to direct Insignificance in February, and will then take the job from June. I'm lucky to be based so close to Sheffield, many theatregoers travel the journey from London just to see Sheffield's quality productions; which in the past has hosted star names such as Diana Rigg, Kenneth Branagh and Joseph Fiennes.

As well as a planned Broadway stint, Martin McDonagh's Olivier Award winning play The Pillowman is to embark on a UK tour in the new year. After opening at the National for an initial 33 performance run, the play received such widespread praise from critics and audiences that it extended for three months. Jim Broadbent, probably best known now for Moulin Rouge, took the role of a police chief against David Tennant's Katurian, though it is unlikely either will reprise their roles. It takes place in a police cell under a totalitarian government where Katurian is under investigation for coincidental links between his work and local child deaths.

Many West End shows are announcing extensions to their current runs. The Lion King is five years old and now booking at the Lyceum Theatre to July 2005, Christian Slater takes One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest up to January 1st, when he must fly back to America for filming commitments, and Jerry Springer the Opera is booking until October 1st 2005, despite constant rumours for its venue to host other shows, including Acorn Antiques (with Julie Walters and Victoria Wood) and the Broadway production of Hairspray. All eyes are on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to extend, as rumour has it that Lloyd Webber wants the Palladium for his revival of The Sound of Music.


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From This Author Jake Brunger

Jake is currently studying at Bristol University and hopes to eventually pursue a career in the theatre industry as a writer/director. His favourite writers include (read more...)

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