Coward Revivals Line Up for Autumn OpeningsDate: 23 August 2000
Last year may have been the official Noel Coward centenary, but looking at the upcoming West End schedule, you wouldn't know the celebrations had ended. This week, two new star-studded Coward revivals, both produced by Bill Kenwright, have announced West End runs. Brief Encounter, starring Jenny Seagrove and Christopher Cazenove, will open for a limited engagement at the Lyric Theatre from 11 September, following previews from 6 September; while Fallen Angels, starring Felicity Kendal and Frances de la Tour, will open at the Apollo Theatre on 25 October, with previews from 17 October.
Directed by Roger Redfarn, Brief Encounter is based on David Lean's classic 1946 film which was itself based on a script by Coward. It has been adapted for the stage by Andrew Taylor. Set in 1938, Brief Encounter is the heart-wrenching story of a lonely housewife, the man she meets in a railway station buffet and their doomed love.
Jenny Seagrove is Laura (played by Celia Johnson in the film version) and Christopher Cazenove is her lover Alec (Trevor Howard in the film). Seagrove's previous stage credits include Coward's Present Laughter with Tom Conti, while her extensive film and TV credits include A Woman of Substance, Don't Go Breaking My Heart and Local Hero. Cazenove's film credits include Three Men and a Little Lady, Heat and Dust and, soon to be released, Beginner's Luck and A Knight's Tale.
Seagrove and Cazenove are joined in the cast by Brian Deacon, Elizabeth Power, Christopher Beeny, April Walker, Amy Rodgers, Andrew Blair and Sion Lloyd. Brief Encounter is designed by Martyn Bainbridge with lighting by Chris Ellis.
Fallen Angels, first seen in 1925 starring Tallulah Bankhead and Edna Best, is one of Noel Coward's earliest comedies. This is its first West End revival since 1967, when Constance Cummings and Joan Greenwood starred.
Julia (Felicity Kendal) and Jane (Frances de la Tour) are long-time best friends and have much in common. Both are now in companionable though dull marriages and both had an earlier affair with a charming French man named Maurice. When Maurice arrives in London, Julia and Jane are torn between their desire for him and fear for the stability of their marriages. Both women also suspect that the other is scheming to see him in secret. An evening of frenzied and tipsy anticipation culminates in Maurice's arrival and the return home of their husbands.
Kendal, best known for TV's The Good Life, has had a long stage career. Recent work in the West End includes Alarms and Excursions, Heartbreak House, Arcadia and the Peter Hall season at the Old Vic where she appeared in Waste and The Seagull. De la Tour has featured in many productions with the RSC and the National, including the RSC's recent Antony and Cleopatra, in which she starred opposite Alan Bates.
Kendal and de la Tour are joined in the cast by Eric Carte, James Wooley, Stephen Grief and Tilly Tremain. Fallen Angels is directed by Michael Rudman with design by Paul Farnsworth and lighting by Nick Richings. Prior to the West End, the production will tour to Windsor, Woking and Bath.