Actress, writer and model Joan Collins is to star in a new version of Ken Ludwig's theatrical drama Moon Over Buffalo. The London-born performer, who first appeared on stage at the age of nine, will feature in a West End production expected to premiere in Autumn 2001. Playwright Ray Cooney is expected to direct.

This will represent Collins' first stage work for over a decade. She starred in Noel Coward's Private Lives at the Aldwych Theatre in 1990, later making her Broadway debut in the same role. Collins had previously appeared in the title role of Chichester Festival Theatre's The Last of Mrs Cheyney. After her West End childhood role in A Doll's House, Collins later went to RADA where she was signed to an exclusive film contract after just 18 months.

The plot of Moon Over Buffalo concerns two former Hollywood stars, reduced to plying their wares in Buffalo. They try to mount simultaneous stage productions of Cyrano de Bergerac and Private Lives, but complications arrive via a pregnant girlfriend and a deaf mother-in-law. The show enjoyed a successful run on Broadway in 1995-96, starring the Tony-nominated Carol Burnett.

Ray Cooney's career also began as a child actor, before he joined a number of repertory acts including Brian Rix's Whitehall Theatre company in 1956. His writing career later took off, with such productions as Run For Your Wife and Chase Me Comrade. His production and directing works have embraced over 30 London shows, including Children of a Lesser God and Whose Life is it Anyway?

- by Gareth Thompson