UPDATED 12.45pm, 17 Mar 2005: Further details have now been added about the extended booking period for this production.

Kevin Spacey is due to appear for just seven weeks of the much-anticipated season of The Philadelphia Story, the final production in his inaugural season as Old Vic artistic director (See News, 22 Apr 2004).

The revival of Philip Barry’s classic Broadway comedy was originally due to run for a limited 12 weeks from 7 May to 23 July 2005 (previews from 3 May). An additional fortnight has now been added, taking booking up to 6 August. Spacey, currently appearing in National Anthems at the Old Vic (pictured), is confirmed to star as CK Dexter Haven in the new production until 18 June only, owing to the summer shooting demands for his upcoming film Superman Returns, in which he’ll play villain Lex Luthor. All other actors will appear throughout the duration of the Old Vic run.

No announcement has yet been made as to who will replace Spacey for the final five weeks of The Philadelphia Story. Nor has the key role of journalist Mike Connor (played by Jimmy Stewart in the 1940 film version) yet been cast, although an announcement is expected on the latter within the next fortnight, ahead of rehearsals which commence on 3 April.

In the meantime, the Old Vic has announced other casting today. In addition to Jennifer Ehle, who plays spoilt heiress Tracy Lord (See News, 18 Feb 2005), the company will feature: Julia McKenzie (Sweeney Todd, Fuddy Meers) as Margaret Lord, Oliver Cotton (Brand, Life x 3) as Seth Lord, Nicholas Le Prevost (My Fair Lady, Much Ado About Nothing, currently in Sheffield’s Insignificance), Richard Lintern (His Girl Friday) as Tracy’s fiancé George Kittredge, Lauren Ward (Camelot, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as photographer Liz Imbrie, and Damien Matthews (The Woman in Black as Sandy Lord. Talulah Riley will be making her West End debut as Dinah Lord.

Written by Philip Barry as a vehicle for Katharine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story premiered on Broadway in 1939 and was famously made into George Cukor’s 1940 Oscar-winning film, in which Hepburn was joined by Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant, as CK Dexter Haven, the role initially taken in the Old Vic production by Spacey. It also inspired Cole Porter’s musical High Society.

The Philadelphia Story is directed by Broadway’s Jerry Zaks (La Cage aux Folles, Smokey Joe’s Café, Six Degrees of Separation) and designed by John Lee Beatty, with costumes by Tom Rand, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Fergus O’Hare. The Barry play, which makes its rather belated West End premiere with this new production, was originally due to be mounted at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2001 (See News, 26 Mar 2001). The same producers, Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott, are now co-producing the Old Vic presentation.

- by Terri Paddock