As previously tipped (See The Goss, 29 Sep 2006), American comedy Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks will receive its UK premiere, starring Claire Bloom and, making his West End debut, Hollywood screen star Billy Zane (pictured). It opens on 29 November 2006 (previews from 23 November) at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks follows the unlikely acquaintance between a sprightly retiree and her young dance teacher. After moving from his beloved New York City to Florida’s Gulf Coast, the acerbic Michael (Zane) is hired for six weeks by Lily (Bloom), a lonely but formidable minister’s wife with a flair for dancing. What begins as an antagonistic relationship becomes a remarkable friendship as two people with very different backgrounds reveal their secrets, hopes and fears while they do the foxtrot, the cha-cha, the tango and the waltz.

Written by Richard Alfrieri, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks was first performed in Los Angeles in 2001 with Uta Hagen and David Hyde Pierce, while Polly Bergen and Mark Hamill starred in the short-lived Broadway premiere in autumn 2003. The play has since been seen in Australia, Canada, Japa, Israel, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic, with further international productions and a film adaptation in the work.

Claire Bloom’s recent London stage credits include Conversations After a Burial and Whistling Psyche at the Almeida, while on Broadway she’s been seen in A Doll’s House and A Streetcar Named Desire. Her screen credits include Shadowlands, Brideshead Revisited, The Camomile Lawn, Crimes and Misdemeanors and Mighty Aphrodite.

Billy Zane is best known for his big screen roles in the likes of Dead Calm, Zoolander, Back to the Future, The Phantom and, perhaps most notably, Titanic, in which he played Kate Winslet’s fiancé. His Broadway credits include Billy Flynn in Chicago.

In London, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman, who also directed the 2001 LA production, and designed by Christopher Woods. The dances are newly staged by Craig Revel Horwood, whose West End credits include Spend Spend Spend and My One and Only and who is now a familiar face as a judge on TV’s Strictly Come Dancing.

The UK premiere production of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks is presented by TRH Productions and EntPro Plays Inc. Currently at the Haymarket, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers will finish its run on 18 November (See News, 26 Sep 2006).

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock