American TV star Rhea Perlman (pictured) - best known as sarcastic waitress Carla in 1980s sitcom Cheers, for which she won four Emmy Awards – will make her London stage debut this month in the hit West End revival of Marc Camoletti’s Sixties sex farce Boeing-Boeing at the Comedy Theatre.

From 25 June, Perlman takes over from Patricia Hodge (who took over from original cast member Frances de la Tour) as the put-upon housekeeper who helps Parisian architect Bernard cope with the demands, and timetables, of three air hostess fiancées. When old school chum Robert arrives, Bernard relishes the chance to show his wide-eyed friend his first-class operation at work. Unfortunately, schedules change, flights are delayed and a new turbo-charged Boeing aircraft is introduced, causing chaos.

Perlman first made a name for herself playing opposite her husband Danny DeVito in TV’s Taxi. Over her 11 years in Cheers (the show’s entire run), she was nominated for Emmy Awards an unprecedented ten times, winning four. Perlman’s other credits include St Elsewhere, Mad About You, Ally McBeal and Frasier on TV, and the films Matlida ( in which she was directed by and co-starred opposite DeVito), Sunset Park, Carpool, Class Act and Ted and Venus.

The current Boeing cast also features Adrian Dunbar (as Bernard), Neil Stuke (Robert) and, as the air hostesses, Elena Roger, Doon Mackichan and Amy Nuttall.

The play, which originally premiered in the mid-Sixties, held the world record for the longest-running comedy in the West End, playing over 2,000 performances before transferring to Broadway. This production, opened on 15 February (previews from 3 February), is directed by Matthew Warchus and designed by Rob Howell, with lighting by Hugh Vanstone. It’s presented by Sonia Friedman Productions, Act Productions, Matthew Byam Shaw, Robert G Bartner and Bob Boyett. It’s currently booking to 20 October 2007.


At the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre, Tim Healy (Billy Elliot, Art, TV’s Auf Wiedersehen, Pet) and Dearbhla Molloy (Juno and the Paycock, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Cripple of Inishmaan) complete the cast of Anna Mackmin’s production of David Storey’s In Celebration, in which British film star Orlando Bloom will make his West End debut (See News, 25 May 2007).

Storey’s drama, premiered at the Royal Court in 1969, centres on three brothers – Andrew, Colin and Steven – who return home to their Northern roots for a family reunion around their parents’ wedding anniversary. Although they’ve returned to celebrate, the complexities of family life and long-held grievances make a decent party unlikely.

In addition to Bloom, other previously announced cast members are Paul Hilton, Gareth Farr, Lynda Baron and Ciaran McIntyre. The revival, presented in the by Sonia Friedman Productions, opens on 12 July 2007 (previews from 5 July) for a limited season to 15 September.


And finally, for the Open Air Theatre’s 75th anniversary season (See News, 15 Jan 2007), which launches tonight (4 June 2007), artistic director Ian Talbot will once again play Bottom in Park perennial A Midsummer Night's Dream in his 20th and final season before stepping down. Bottom was the role that first brought Talbot, who took over as artistic director in 1987, to the venue as an actor in 1971. This will be his tenth time playing the comic character at the Open Air.

Christopher Luscombe’s new production also features Sam Alexander (as Lysander), Norman Bowman (Demetrius), Olivia Darnley (Hermia), Richard Glaves (Puck), Hattie Ladbury (Helena), Mark Meadows (Oberon/Theseus) and Sarah Woodward (Titania/Hippolyta). A Midsummer Night's Dream opens on 8 June 2007 (previews from 30 May) and continues in rep until 18 August.

Ahead of it this week, playwright-turned-directed Edward Kemp’s new production of Macbeth opens the season, running from tonight (4 June, previews from 28 May) to 16 August 2007. In the Scottish play, Antony Byrne and Sarah Woodward play the murderous Macbeths with Peter Duncan (Macduff) and Mark Meadows (Banquo)

For the summer musical, the Gershwins’ 1924 classic Lady Be Good!, Chris Ellis-Stanton and Kate Nelson will play Dick and Susie Trevor, penniless siblings torn between marrying for love or money. The cast will also feature Rachel Jerram, who made her professional debut starring in last summer’s production of another 1920s-set musical, The Boy Friend, which returns to the venue this year (with Jerram), running from 28 August to 15 September 2007 ahead of a tour.

Lady Be Good! has a book by Guy Bolton and Fred Thompson. It premiered on Broadway in 1924, with real-life brother and sister Fred and Adele Astaire playing Dick and Susie. Its score includes “Fascinating Rhythm” and the title number. The Open Air revival is directed by Ian Talbot and runs from 19 July (previews from 17 July) to 25 August 2007.

Others in this year’s Open Air repertory company are: Tobias Beer, Alan Bradshaw, Chris Edgerley, Christian Edwards, Chris Emmett, Anna Lowe, Martin McCarthy, David McGranaghan, Kate Nelson, Thomas Padden, David Peart, Nicolas Pinto-Sander, Joseph Pitcher, Gemma Sutton, Steve Watts, Emma Clayton, Oliver Coopersmith, Olivia Darnley, Arthur Duncan, Richard Glaves, Hattie Ladbury, Thomas Padden, Giles Taylor, Hayley Gallivan, Paul Grunert, Hattie Ladbury and Charlotte Warren.

- by Terri Paddock


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