Oscar-winning actress Mercedes Ruehl will make her London stage debut when she joins her Hollywood compatriot Jeff Goldblum in Neil Simon’s 1971 Broadway comedy The Prisoner of Second Avenue in a limited season from 13 July to 11 September 2010 (previews from 30 June) at the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre. The new production, directed by Terry Johnson, is the Old Vic’s first West End production beyond its own home base on The Cut in Waterloo.

Set in the 1970s, The Prisoner of Second Avenue is a black comedy depicting a New York couple, Mel (Goldblum) and Edna Edison (Ruehl), enduring the trials and tribulations of city life. Mel is made redundant and the stress of an economic crisis and urban life pushes him into having a nervous breakdown. The family gathers to offer support, with Edna stoically bearing the burden of his disintegration and self-pity.

Ruehl’s films include Married to the Mob, Heartburn, Warriors, Slaves of New York, Last Action Hero and The Fisher King, for which she won her Academy Award, while her TV credits include Entourage, Widows and Frasier. In theatre, her Broadway credits include The American Plan, The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, The Rose Tattoo and Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers, for which she appeared with Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey, won a Tony Award and went on to recreate her role in the 1993 film version.

The Prisoner of Second Avenue originally premiered on Broadway in 1971 and was subsequently made into a 1975 film starring Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft. It finally received its West End premiere in a 1999 production starring Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason. This revival is designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Neil Austin. It’s presented by the Old Vic Theatre Company/Old Vic Productions plc and Sonia Friedman Productions.


In other recent play casting updates:

  • Caroline Harker and Marshall Lancaster will lead the cast in The Railway Children, performed in the former Eurostar terminal at Waterloo Station from 12 July to 4 September 2010 (previews from 4 July). They’re joined by David Baron, Nicholas Bishop, Louise Clein, Elizabeth Keates, Steven Kynman, Roger may, Blair Plant, Amanda Prior and Sarah Quintell, as well as Grace Rowe, Mat Ruttle and children from the local boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark.

    Adapted by Mike Kenny from E Nesbit’s classic 1906 novel, The Railway Children was first presented by York Theatre Royal at the National Railway Museum in York in 2008, where it returned the following year. At Waterloo, the auditorium will be specially constructed with the audience seated either side of the original railway track. Damian Cruden directs.
  • The previously announced star trio of Mark Rylance, David Hyde Pierce and Joanna Lumley will be joined in the pre-Broadway run of La Bete by Stephen Ouimette, Lisa Joyce, Greta Lee, Robert Lonsdale, Michael Milligan, Liza Sadovy and Sally Wingert. Matthew Warchus directs the revival of David Hirson’s Moliere-inspired 1991 play, set in 17th-century France, which runs from 7 July to 28 August 2010 (previews from 26 June) at the West End’s Comedy Theatre – prior to an immediate transfer to Broadway.