Story by Jack Foley
IT MAY have been a torrid week for Hollywood actor, Kevin Spacey,
on a personal level, but he finished it on a high, by unveiling
his first ever season as artistic director of Londons Old
The Oscar-winning star of films such as American Beauty and The
Usual Suspects maintained that theatre was now his priority,
before putting forward several mouth-watering prospects for his
Among them is Sir Ian McKellens appearance as the pantomime
dame, Widow Twanky, in a production of Aladdin, and a revival
of The Philadelphia Story, for which Spacey is rumoured to be
courting some big Hollywood names.
Needless to say, the 44-year-old actor did have to fend off intrusive
questions about his private life, following the revelation that
he had been mugged of his mobile phone in a London park during
the early hours of the morning, while out walking his dog.
But he dismissed them with suitable aplomb, joking that he was
simply honouring a deal with David Beckham, in a bid to get the
football star off the front pages for a while. Although contrary
to some rumours, he added, Beckham had not made a donation towards
the theatres funds.
But once the tabloids had been put in their place, the actor
got on with the serious business of unveiling the programme, which
certainly looks to have honoured his promise to bring serious,
quality theatre to the historic venue.
Together with producer, David Liddiment, he announced details
of four productions, two of them British premieres. He will also
direct one, and appear in two others.
Aside from the presence of McKellen, however, there were no big
names, or stunt names, announced, as Spacey maintained
that it would be impossible to be in any discussions with
any actress, until a director was named.
It is thought that the revival of The Philadelphia Story could
be the one to attract a Hollywood star, but even though Spacey
acknowledged there are some beautiful women out there,
he candidly hinted that this could also be a role for an
"There is a responsibility to put bums on seats, but we
are not into stunt casting," he added.
Spacey also said that while there were no Shakespeare plays in
his first season, classic works would feature in future.
"There are some remarkable Shakespearean parts I want to
tackle," he said. "But we felt our primary goal was
to create an exciting season of work."
The four productions are:
l Cloaca (September 16 - December
11, 2004) - A new play, by Maria Goos, whom Spacey credited
with being a writer at the peak of her game who is completely
unknown outside her native Holland. Spacey will direct a
cast including Neil Pearson and Stephen Tompkinson, of Drop the
l Aladdin (December 17, 2004
- January 22, 2005) - Sean Mathias will direct the classic
family pantomime, with Sir Ian McKellen fulfilling a lifetime
ambition, and appearing as Widow Twanky. It is sure to be a huge
Christmas hit. Said Spacey: "It's unusual that you get a
sir and a dame in the same night."
l National Anthems (February
1 - April 23, 2005) - This production will mark Spacey's first
acting role at the Old Vic, as well as the UK premiere of Dennis
McIntyres 1988 play. Spacey told reporters that he had performed
this play, in 1989, and felt so strongly about it, that he has
held onto the rights ever since.
l The Philadelphia Story (May
3 - July 23, 2005) - The second of Spaceys star turns,
in Philip Barry's Broadway comedy, famously turned into the 1940
feature film, starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.
Concluding the round-up, the actor said it would be a fantastic
and fun way to finish off our first season, before stressing
that the Hepburn role had yet to be cast.
Film fans fearing that the star was about to give up his Hollywood
connections and turn his back on movies, however, were reassured
that Spacey would still devote some of his time to that medium
- most notably in the form of Beyond The Sea, his biopic on the
singer, Bobby Darin, which co-stars Kate
However, ,the Old Vic Theatre Company and his Trigger Street
production company will be his primary focus, as he
seeks to honour the commitments he made upon being appointed artistic
director - a role he has relished ever since he first visited
the London venue.
"I don't view coming here as running away from anything;
it will be extraordinarily satisfying and bring me great happiness,"