Amongst the major London openings taking place this week are:

OPENING TONIGHT, Monday 15 September 2003 (previews from 12 September), at the Savoy Theatre, Broadway's Bea Arthur, who's best known to Britons as the gravely-voiced one from TV sitcom The Golden Girls, makes her West End debut with her own solo show in the vein of last year's Elaine Stritch at Liberty. Arthur is accompanied by her long-time musical director Billy Goldenberg. Bea Arthur at the Savoy has a limited season until 18 October 2003 (See News, 26 Jun 2003).

Also tonight (previews from 11 September), uptown at Kilburn's Tricycle Theatre, comes a rare revival of George Bernard Shaw's 1904 comedy John Bull's Other Island, which follows Englishman Tom Broadbent and his Irish partner on an ill-fated business venture in rural Ireland. Directed by Oxford Stage artistic director Dominic Dromgoole, with a cast led by Niall Buggy, it continues to 25 October 2003 (See News, 6 Aug 2003).


OPENING TUESDAY, 16 September 2003 (previews from 10 September), at the West End's Theatre Royal Haymarket, is former RSC artistic director Adrian Noble's much-anticipated revival of A Woman of No Importance. Oscar Wilde's 1893 social satire tells the story of a woman who keeps her past a secret in order to protect the reputations of herself and her son. The all-star cast features Rupert Graves, Prunella Scales, Samantha Bond, Joanne Pearce and Tipping the Velvet's Rachael Stirling, daughter of Diana Rigg. It's booking up to 31 January 2004 (See News, 26 Jun 2003).

Also on Tuesday (previews from 11 September), at Wyndham's Theatre, the award-winning and, latterly scandal-hit, television comedian Michael Barrymore makes his West End debut with his stand-up one-man show. Barrymore Live is followed by Lenny Henry and Bill Bailey in a season of comedy that continues until 29 November 2003 (See News, 27 Jun 2003).


OPENING WEDNESDAY, 17 September 2003 (previews from 11 September), at the Donmar Warehouse, is The Hotel in Amsterdam, the rarely performed 1968 play by Look Back in Anger author John Osborne. In it, three couples plan a secret weekend in Amsterdam to escape the mysterious figure who haunts and dominates each of their lives. British film actors Olivia Williams and Tom Hollander star in the production directed by Robin Lefevre (See News, 25 Jul 2003)


OPENING THURSDAY, 18 September 2003 (previews from 16 September), the Nottingham Playhouse production of Rat Pack Confidential transfers to the West End, where it reopens the Whitehall Theatre (See News, 20 Aug 2003).

Not to be confused with The Rat Pack - the tribute concert compilation show, with look-alikes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr crooning cool classics, that's now packing them in at the West End's Strand Theatre after a successful run at the Theatre Royal Haymarket - Rat Pack Confidential is the stage play, adapted by Paul Sirett from the controversial 1999 group biography of the same name, written by American journalist and chronicler Shawn Levy.

The five-strong cast of actor-musicians are Richard Shelton as Frank Sinatra, Alex Giannini as Dean Martin, Paul Sharma as Sammy Davis Jnr, Robin Kingsland as Peter Lawford and Kevin Colson as Joey Bishop (See This Week's 20 Questions with Colson). The production is directed by Playhouse artistic director Giles Croft. It's booking up to 6 December 2003.

- by Terri Paddock