McShane & Mackintosh Witches Open TonightDate: 18 July 2000
Cameron Mackintosh's long-anticipated stage adaptation of The Witches of Eastwick - based on the John Updike novel and the 1987 Hollywood film - opens tonight, 18 July, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, where it has been playing to packed out preview audiences since 24 June.
Lovejoy TV star Ian McShane returns to the West End stage after a 30-year absence to make his musical debut as Darryl Van Horne, the part made famous by Jack Nicholson in the film version. He's joined by Lucie Arnaz, Maria Friedman and Joanna Riding as, respectively, Alexandra, Sukie and Jane, the witches played by Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon in the film.
The Witches of Eastwick is set in the tiny New England community of Eastwick, where the three modern-day witches innocently plot and conjure over a heady brew of weak martinis and peanut butter cookies. Their fantasies are made flesh in the form of the mysteriously devilish Van Horne who spices up their lives enjoyably - until all hell breaks loose.
Though it was initially rumoured that Phantom star Michael Crawford would fill Nicholson's shoes on stage, it was McShane who won the part of Van Horne - billed as 'the most sought after role in a musical in years' - after a year-long search and against international opposition. Trained at RADA, McShane's early stage roles included the original production of Joe Orton's Loot and Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. His career later moved primarily to television, in the US and UK, with appearances in Roots, Magnum PI, Miami Vice, Dallas and War and Remembrance. But it was his creation as the mischievous, antique-loving sleuth Lovejoy, for the TV series he both produced and starred in, which earned McShane an international audience.
The American actress Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, makes her London stage debut in The Witches of Eastwick. Olivier Award-winning British actress Maria Friedman was seen most recently in Chicago and Lady in the Dark, while fellow Olivier winner Joanna Riding's credits include Carousel and Guys and Dolls at the National.
Rosemary Ashe (The Phantom of the Opera), Peter Joback (Miss Saigon), Caroline Sheen (Mamma Mia) and Stephen Tate (Cats and A Chorus Line) also feature. The rest of the cast are Kathryn Akin, Valda Aviks, Sarah Bayliss, Amanda Jane Callaghan, Earl Carpenter, Kevin Curtin, Jennie Dale, Matt Dempsey, Alison Forbes, Jocelyn Hawkyard, Shaun Henson, Chris Holland, Jasna Ivir, Maurice Lane, Sarah Lark, Anne Marie McCormack, Jean McGlynn, Lisa Peace, Simon Penman, Richard Reynard, Anthony Stansfield, Scarlet Strallen, Julia Sutton, Graham Tudor, Kevin Wainwright, Tim Walton and Gee Williams.
The Witches of Eastwick has book and lyrics by John Dempsey and Dana Rowe, whose musical The Fix premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in 1997. The show is directed by Eric Schaeffer, designed by Bob Crowley and choreographed by Bob Avian and Stephen Mear with orchestrations by William D Brohn, musical supervision by David Caddick, sound design by Andrew Bruce and lighting design by Howard Harrison.