December 17, 2004
Good thing Gandalf was available!
From contactmusic.com –
McKELLEN RESCUES SPACEY’S THEATRE
British actor SIR IAN McKELLEN stepped in to rescue KEVIN SPACEY’s troubled London theatre on Saturday (18DEC04) – by playing a show-stealing pantomime dame.
Spacey’s Old Vic theatre has been plagued by misfortune after CLOACA, his first production as artistic director, received a critical mauling and his comments about noisy audiences attracted negative publicity.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS star McKellen was under pressure to revive the theatre’s reputation after the first performance of ALADDIN was halted on Friday (17DEC04) due to technical problems.
But McKellen’s camp portrayal as Aladdin’s WIDOW TWANKY played to sold-out audiences on Saturday (18DEC04) and attracted glowing reviews.
December 19, 2004
I’m gonna have to find a few free minutes to set up the Aladdin section! In the meantime, we have this from The Independent, Online Edition –
2004: A Spacey Odyssey
First it was the dog. Then the old dog and bones. Now it’s dames. What did Kevin Spacey do to deserve London?
By David Randall and Andrew Johnson
19 December 2004
Kevin Spacey’s Aladdin, which opened last night, is probably the first production of that pantomime where the theatre’s artistic director was doing more lamp-rubbing and wishing than the principal boy.
And with good cause. After a run of bad fortune that culminated in the cancellation of Friday night’s performance, the Hollywood star was looking for help from even the most unlikely sources. In recent times, the double Oscar- winning American actor has braved withering reviews, a walk in the park turned into a “mugging” fiasco, and his criticism of “noisy” London audiences rebounded embarrassingly. So there was a lot more than one actor riding on this Aladdin’s carpet – there was the reputation of one of American cinema’s most glittering stars. Spacey’s London Odyssey was at a critical stage.
When the man who brought a complex and pervasive presence to such films as The Usual Suspects and American Beauty first came to London in 1998, it seemed that all he had to do was to twinkle those compelling eyes and success would follow.
His debut in Britain was at the tiny Almeida Theatre in Islington, where his lead role in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh was described by David Benedict in The Independent on Sunday as “simply electrifying”.
After a cameo role at the 2002 Labour Party conference in Blackpool, he was unveiled as the saviour of the Old Vic, the 186-year-old theatre which holds a special place in the hearts of actors and drama lovers alike.
Banana skins, however, were waiting. His latest film, Beyond the Sea, a bio-pic of the teen idol Bobby Darin, was panned as a “vanity project”, Cloaca, his first production as artistic director of the Old Vic, was panned, his claim that he had been mugged while walking his dog in a park at four in the morning prompted much speculation; and he enraged audiences and fellow actors by saying sweets should be banned from theatres to prevent rustling. “If people don’t know how to behave they shouldn’t come,” he said, and then backtracked by claiming he was only joking.
Many might have taken the low-risk route. Not Spacey. The Old Vic under his artistic direction decided on its first ever pantomime, and so the stage was set on Friday for the hugely anticipated opening of Aladdin, starring Sir Ian McKellen and Maureen Lipman. Friday night’s preview had to be cancelled due to “technical difficulties”. The morning after, critics were questioning if Spacey, 45, had taken on too much. David Benedict said: “He hasn’t exactly had a run of luck recently.
“Although Kevin Spacey has enormous skills, maybe he doesn’t yet have the right balance to be artistic director of a major theatre company. He knows how to do an awful lot of the job, but not all of it.”
Being panto, it all came right in the end. In the theatre yesterday afternoon was a crowd that was willing the production to succeed, and, with audience participation like that, and a few cute ad-libs, the show triumphed.
Not that it went entirely without a hitch. Although the troubled mechanics of the cave scene that caused Friday’s hiatus worked a treat (and got an ironic, but warm, cheer), not every piece of property behaved itself. Aladdin’s carpet failed to take off at the end of the first half (“At this point I normally take off on my carpet but I’m now just going to go off stage left”, joked Aladdin, played by Joe McFadden), the lamp was not to hand when wanted (“Hand me the fabled lamp – even if it is off-stage”), and the cake stand collapsed, leaving Maureen Lipman picking up the fancies. The audience thought it was all good panto fun.
The theatre, not surprisingly, was also giving Spacey staunch support. The Old Vic’s marketing director Vivien Wallace, said: “No one ever cancels a show without a lot of soul-searching, especially with a pantomime where kids are involved. But it’s not uncommon for a first preview to be cancelled. Kevin is such a hard worker.
“There is something hugely negative in the British psyche … Here’s a great actor who has chosen to come and try to make the Old Vic work and everybody is just waiting for him to make a mistake.”
If the scenery holds, the carpet takes off and the cake-stand stays upright tonight, when many critics attend, Spacey will have an artisitic, as well as financial, hit on his hands. Aladdin has already sold out and taken in the region of £1.4m.
The real test for Spacey, however, is yet to come. Next year he takes the lead in both National Anthem and The Philadelphia Story. Spacey’s Odyssey was never going to be a smooth ride, nor dull.
Additional reporting by Jonathan Thompson
December 17, 2004
Aladdin’s first night is cancelled
A legendary theatre was forced to apologise after the first performance of its Christmas panto, Aladdin, was cancelled.
The panto at The Old Vic in London was called off for the evening due to technical problems, with bosses promising refunds or alternative bookings where possible for disappointed theatregoers.
Ian McKellen and Maureen Lipman are among its stars.
Vivien Wallace, marketing director for the Old Vic theatre company, said: “It has been cancelled because of technical difficulties.
“The show will be going on.”
She said it was important the show got everything right, including health and safety issues.
She added: “People will be able to get refunds or will be booked into other performances where we can.
“We are very sorry about this – it was not a decision done lightly.”
In a statement, the theatre said Aladdin was a demanding show with complicated staging.
It said the dress rehearsal threw up a number of technical problems which had to be addressed and could not be resolved before the performance.
December 13, 2004
Cloaca has ended and Aladdin starts on Friday. I still have no clue as to what a panto is but I always enjoy Ian McKellen. It’s likely we’ve seen the other actors on BBC America or something on PBS. I read that Roger Allam was in an episode of Midsomer Murders and an episode of Inspector Morse. Sam Kelly was in episodes of Inspector Morse and A Touch of Frost. I’m not picturing Maureen Lipman but her name seems very familiar. I’ll start an Aladdin page very soon.
November 16, 2004
Sad day, Spacey fans. I was just looking around at the Old Vic site and… they have removed the lovely b/w photo of Kevin from the entrance page! Now they’re using that page to advertise the play that is currently running with a color photo of the cast. I heard they had also taken down the poster of Kevin from the front of the theater. The one you can see in the picture above. This is just wrong! I’ll bet this is in response to all of the criticism he’s been getting from the UK press. You know what I mean. All of the negative comments about his name and face being all over everything! The references to his enormous, raging male ego. Imagine how disappointed fans are going to be when they can’t stop and have their pictures taken with the poster. I’d heard it was likely to become the Old Vic’s equivalent of the infamous BAT dumpster. Really. I’m not kidding.
October 28, 2004
Mary Stuart Masterson and Steven Weber to Join Kevin Spacey For Old Vic National Anthems By James Inverne October 28, 2004
Casting details have been released for Kevin Spacey’s acting debut with his Old Vic company, Dennis McIntyre’s National Anthems. Mary Stuart Masterson and Steven Weber will appear alongside the Oscar winning actor.
The play depicts a Detroit suburb in the late 1980’s, where a newly arrived couple are surprised by a visit from a mysterious neighbor. Spacey previously appeared in the play at the Long Wharf Theatre in Connecticut’s New Haven, when his co-stars were Tom Berenger and Mary McDonnell. He’ll reprise his old role of the neighbor, Ben Cook, in London.
Mary Stuart Masterson makes her London stage debut as Leslie Reed. However, her New York appearances have included Alice In Wonderland and Nine, for which she was nominated for a Tony and won the 2003 Theatre World Award. Her many movie credits include “Immediate Family” and “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Steven Weber has played Leo Bloom in The Producers on Broadway.
The show will be directed by David Grindley. Another of his productions, Journey’s End, is currently enjoying a long run in the West End (at the Duke of York’s Theatre). Designs will be by Jonathan Fensom, sound by Gregory Clarke and lighting by Jason Taylor.
The show will begin previews (following the forthcoming Old Vic production of Aladdin, starring Ian McKellen and Maureen Lipman) on Feb. 1, 2005, with opening night on Feb. 8. It will run until April 23.
October 19, 2004
What will likely be the last few paragraphs about Kevin and phones. From The Guardian, October 9.
Is it just me or …
… Do theatre people make a fuss about things the rest of us just deal with?
Zoe Williams Saturday October 9, 2004
What I’m thinking of, naturally, is the great mobile phone nonsense, but I can think of other examples (well, one: female actors against the congestion charge). For those who don’t listen to Front Row or have a not-necessarily-worshipful obsession with everything said or done by Kevin Spacey, here’s the thing: he became enraged by the potential of a mobile, or any other portable item (pacemakers, sweets), to disrupt a theatrical performance. So before each performance of the play he’s directed, Cloaca (which, incidentally, is rubbish), he does a Tannoy monologue-whisper about the very great importance of turning off one’s phone, which is fine, except that it’s interminable. As a result of this, a radio arts-debate ensued, with other directors deciding, ultimately, that he could have played it differently but was nevertheless right in principle.
And it’s true, mobiles spoil the moment; but they spoil the moment in cinemas as well. They spoil the moment if they ring when you’re having sex. Yet the cinema ad is only two minutes, and mildly funny; and never in the history of mobile phones has anyone delayed imminent nooky with, “Can you please ensure all your mobile devices are turned off .”
Sure, I know “theatrical” doesn’t mean “makes a bit of a fuss” for nothing. But this much fuss?
Thanks to Sue.
October 5, 2004
Tickets for The Philadelphia Story are now listed as being on sale in January. January 8 for Friends of the Old Vic and January 24 for everyone else.
October 3, 2004
Geez – now Kevin’s picture being prominently displayed at the theatre is being criticized as well as the Old Vic Magazine which is being sold in place of a Playbill-type program. I’ll bet they didn’t even like Kevin’s tie on Tuesday night.
The BBC’s Radio 4 “Saturday Review” didn’t care for Cloaca either. Although the host concedes that the audience seemed to be having a great time and reference was made to advance ticket sales of £400,000.
If I had an Ian McKellan fan site, I’d be having a new poll right now. In today’s Sunday Times he ponders whether or not to wear fake breasts for his role as Widow Twankey in December’s production of Aladdin. If he decides to go the breast route, he’d do better to have implants put in, otherwise the critics will say they look phoney.
Thanks to AFA for both of those items.
From Playbill.com –
Maureen Lipman and Roger Allam to Join McKellen in Old Vic Aladdin
By James Inverne October 1, 2004
That thoroughbred thespian Ian McKellen is lined up to play the dame, Widow Twanky, in the Old Vic’s Aladdin, has long been known. However, the Daily Mail newspaper has reported an almost equally starry supporting cast. Roger Allam and Maureen Lipman are far from makeweights. Lipman is as well-known in the U.K. as McKellen, thanks to her copious TV resume and her high-profile stage turns including, recently, Cameron Mackintosh’s staging of Oklahoma! and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Allam created the role of Javert in Les Misérables and has been a theatre star ever since, with lauded recent turns in Privates on Parade at the Donmar Warehouse and Michael Frayn’s Democracy.
Also in the cast are Sam Kelly, currently winning rave reviews in the National Theatre’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Cat Simmons and Joe McFadden. Sean Matthias will direct Billie Brown’s specially written version.
At an Old Vic press conference earlier in 2004, Old Vic’s Kevin Spacey admitted his own relative ignorance about pantomimes, saying, “I personally look forward to this production, as the panto is an entirely new form for me because the tradition does not exist in America.” He’ll get his chance when the show starts performances on Dec. 17.
September 29, 2004
The press reviews for Cloaca are starting to appear on the Internet this morning and the critics don’t seem to like it as much as the audience did. On the bright side, there have been some positive comments on Kevin’s directing of the play and that was a very nice tie Kevin was wearing last night, wasn’t it?
I only have time to post a few things this morning so I’m going to post a few things from the BBC News. Cloaca Reviews page. I’ll save the one titled ‘Spacey’s down the gutter with this stinker’ for later.
September 28, 2004
The picture to the right is from tonight. The Old Vic’s official opening of Cloaca.
I don’t know if I mentioned it before but there are several fan reviews of Cloaca on the site now. Um .. so far, the audience seems to feel the end needs a little bit of work. Someone might want to, you know, mention that to… somebody. And BTW – in spite of what all the news reports said last week, Kevin does *not* take the stage every night to tell people to keep their phones turned off and their candy in it’s wrapper. You may hear his voice, maybe it’s live or maybe it’s a recording, but don’t expect to be seeing his actual self on the stage.
There is an interview with Cloaca actor Hugh Bonneville on the BBC web site. He has some nice things to say about Kevin and they briefly touch on Kevin’s comments about audience noise in the theater. Now if someone would just ban the use of the word “journey” from celebrity interviews, *I* would be happy.
Bonneville talks Spacey and sewers By Neil Smith BBC News Online
British actor Hugh Bonneville talks to BBC News Online about his role in Cloaca, the first play in Kevin Spacey’s inaugural season at London’s Old Vic theatre.
September 27, 2004
There should be some professional reviews for Cloaca coming in a few days. I added an article to the Old Vic articles page.
September 24, 2004
I added a new picture of the Old Vic to the main Cloaca page (link above). It was taken by fans who attended the play earlier in the week. There are also a few pictures on the Cloaca pictures page, taken by the same people. Very big thanks to Vivienne, Bob and Clair.
I’ll be adding a few articles to the Cloaca section this evening, also thanks to Vivienne.
September 21, 2004
Old Vic souvenirs – For fans who have asked, you can currently purchase programs and posters from the foyer of the Old Vic during performance hours and soon will be able to purchase t-shirts, mugs, and play scripts.
I finally had a chance to listen to Kevin’s interview from yesterday and a little warning for fans who are planning to attend plays at the Old Vic. If your phone goes off, you’re gonna get zapped with a cattle prod until you turn it off! Actually, they’re going to ask everyone to turn off their phones at the start but you get the idea.
Kevin, next time someone asks you if you mind that people are coming to the plays because of your connection to them you need to say you welcome these people with open arms because these are the people who will take a chance and buy a ticket when no one else will! That “I don’t have a problem if people come because I direct or star in a play.” was a little weak. As Patrick Stewart said, his Star Trek fans filled the seats when no one else was interested so no one can say a word against them to *him*. Try to sound more forceful next time, ok?
September 20, 2004
Kevin did an interview on BBC Radio 4’s “Front Row” show today along with the Old Vic’s David Liddiment.
Plus, Cloaca star Hugh Bonneville had an interview on BBC’s Loose Ends radio show on Saturday.
Thank you to Anonymous Feedback Alerter. Message to AFA – Bonding .. bondage .. it could probably have gone either way. Thanks again.
September 16, 2004
Previews for Cloaca start tonight. Good luck to the cast and to Kevin on his first Old Vic directorial endeavor.
Are you a Friend of the Old Vic? If so, you’ll want to look on the back of your latest newsletter because there’s a notice offering the chance to reserve 2 tickets to a Q&A with Kevin and the cast of Cloaca on the evening of October 5. The Q&A will be about an hour and tickets are free and limited to 2 per friend.
Big thanks to Michelle.
September 13, 2004
More about Jerry Zaks from Playbill –
Jerry Zaks to Direct Kevin Spacey in London Philadelphia Story
By James Inverne September 13, 2004
A director has been picked to direct Kevin Spacey in the forthcoming London staging of The Philadelphia Story at the Old Vic Theatre, according to Variety. Jerry Zaks, a big name on Broadway but somewhat less well-known in Britain, has signed up to mount the May 3–July 23 run. It’s the first show that Spacey will act in for his new Old Vic company, though he’s set to take the director’s chair himself for Maria Goos’ play Cloaca (previews begin Sept. 16 prior to an official opening Sept. 28). The Oscar-winning actor’s co-star for Philadelphia is not yet known, though Variety pegs Helen Hunt, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow as all rumored to be in the frame. At a press conference earlier this year, Spacey kept his options wide open, saying that it might be a big star or an unknown.
Zaks is a seven-time Tony Award winner, bagging his last for 1996’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Nathan Lane. He directed the recent Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors and is currently working on the New York revival of La Cage aux Folles, to star Gary Beach and Daniel Davis. He’s previously had shows in London including Smokey Joe’s Cafe and Six Degrees of Separation.
This went pretty much unnoticed in another article the other day and I never got around to posting it then, but a director has been named for The Philadelphia Story. I highlighted a sentence of interest to US and Canadian fans.
Zaks to direct Spacey’s ‘Story’ Sat Sep 11, 9:17 PM ET Matt Wolf, STAFF LONDON — Broadway helmer Jerry Zaks will direct the last play in the inaugural season of Kevin Spacey’s tenure running the Old Vic. The show, a revival of the Philip Barry comedy “The Philadelphia Story,” will run May 3-July 23 with a brief extension possible if reviews and Spacey’s sked warrant. The hope is to transfer the production to Broadway in spring 2006. Assignment is a coup for multiple Tony-winner Zaks, who has never originated a production in Britain. Spacey explained his choice of helmer: “Obviously, I’ve seen an enormous amount of (Zaks’) work and always liked him and wanted to work with him. I also think he truly loves this play: He gets it, he understands it, he knows what it has to be — that we want to make it as complex as I think that play is, even though it is very funny.” Spacey will appear in the production as C.K. Dexter Haven, ex-husband to socialite Tracy Lord, the role taken by Cary Grant in the ever-popular 1940 movie of the play. Katharine Hepburn (news)’s celebrated part of Tracy has yet to be cast, although Helen Hunt, Cameron Diaz (news), Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow are among those whose names have surfaced for the job. “They all could do it,” Spacey said. “They all have the qualities. Probably, there are nine or 10 women that are well-known and have the kind of glamour you’d want in that role and then, who knows, maybe there’s somebody we don’t know — somebody who’s on their way.” Spacey said applications to fill the role are flooding the theater. “Of all the resumes I get on a daily basis, the majority are to play Tracy. Every girl in town wants to play Tracy Lord, and I understand why: She’s a remarkably interesting women, who is fierce and tough and who has a real sense of herself and a spine and yet is completely lost and like a child and so ultimately romantic and believes in love.” For the moment, Spacey is directing Old Vic season opener “Cloaca,” which he does not appear in. Previews of the Maria Goos drama start Thursday prior to a Sept. 28 opening.
September 7, 2004
A couple of new articles.
The Times has an interview with Kevin. Might require registration.
And if you missed it on the main news page, Kevin is on the cover of Time Out London with the cast of Cloaca. Issue 1776, September 1-8, 2004. Other pictures are in the article itself. Fans can buy a copy or download the article onto their own computers (for a small price).
Thanks to Anonymous #1 and Anonymous #2.
August 23, 2004
I have added the new Condé Nast Traveler article to the Old Vic articles section. There is one picture of Kevin in the article, plus a small picture of the Old Vic which I didn’t have time to scan. Maybe later. The article can be found by using the link above, or by going directly here.
August 22, 2004
There has been nothing new to report lately. Cloaca starts next month but that’s about it. My sister tells me that an Old Vic poster for Kevin’s first season as artistic director has been on ebay. Anyone know where you can buy one??
August 7, 2004
And Babs Streisand as the mom
Keith Richards co-starring with Johnny Depp? Laurence Olivier opposite Gwyneth Paltrow? In the sport of stunt casting, no name is too big or too strange for Hollywood, writes ELIZABETH RENZETTI By ELIZABETH RENZETTI Saturday, August 7, 2004 – Page R1
When Kevin Spacey introduced his first season of programming at London’s Old Vic theatre, he noted that he was looking for stars for Philip Barry’s The Philadelphia Story, but “we don’t want to do any stunt casting.” (However, he failed to explain how placing a cross-dressing Sir Ian McKellen in the Old Vic’s pantomime Aladdin transcended good old-fashioned hucksterism.)
Spacey’s tenure at the Old Vic could uncharitably be termed stunt stewardship, part of a stunt movement in which two high-profile partners benefit symbiotically from each other’s presence.
I sure hope we have more to read about soon. Thanks to Borislava for the link.
July 26, 2004
I haven’t had anything new to post in a while but a friend of a fan found this article. In it Kevin talks a little bit about how he came to be artistic director of the Old Vic and near the end discusses plans for the theater in the future. Thanks Cathie.
London Theatre Guide Kevin Spacey Interview, July 2004
June 14, 2004
Hmmm .. I think the Old Vic needs to do an intensive ad campaign pronto. A friend who went to London last month was going to go see Hamlet at the Old Vic but never did and he says that he was talking about the theater with his uncle who lives in London and his uncle had never heard of the place. He also says he tried to find me a postcard that had a picture of the theater on it and couldn’t find one. Surely that’s not possible.
June 13, 2004
I was reading a long article on the Guardian site this morning, about the pathetic state of theatre in London’s West End and was waiting for Kevin’s name to pop up (Kevin was supposed to be in the article somewhere.) and after all of the gloom and doom, he finally appeared at the end.
Focus: Gloom in Theatreland Stage struck London’s West End is in despair and questioning its role after a series of expensive flops, reports David Smith
<snip> In the meantime optimists insist the play’s the thing with Hamlet warming up the Old Vic for Kevin Spacey’s first season and big musicals such as Mary Poppins, The Producers and The Woman in White on the way. But from prophets of doom sweating in the upper circle, the message is stark and simple: adapt or die. <snip>
June 12, 2004
I moved the picture of Kevin in front of the Old Vic to the Old Vic Theatre entrance page which can be found by clicking on the link above. The picture above was cropped from an Empire (June 2004) photo, enlarged and turned into b/w. The Empire article has nothing to do with the Old Vic, but can still be found here.
June 8, 2004
Old Vic party pictures from Sunday night after 24 Hour Plays.
May 25, 2004
There’s an article about Kevin and the Old Vic at the New York Times web site today.
I also put the article in the Old Vic Articles section.