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London Spotlight: November 2006

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Connie Fisher
(© Hugo Glendinning)
The name Connie Fisher may not mean much to Americans, but it already means plenty to those in England -- as well as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. The renowned producer-songwriter was the force behind How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, the much-publicized British reality show whose aim was to uncover an unknown to star his revival of The Sound of Music revival (November 3-April 14). The 23-year-old Julie Andrews sound-alike came out on top, and now, she'll perform all eight weekly performances of the Oscar Hammerstein-Richard Rodgers classic.

The other big up-coming tuner is Trevor Nunn's reworking of the George Gershwin-Ira Gershwin-Dubose Heyward classic Porgy and Bess (Savoy, opens November 9). The industrious Nunn has evidently decided that the opera can be viewed as a musical and will present it as such in a new two-and-a-half hour version with Clarke Peters and Nicola Hughes in the title roles.

Felicity Kendal didn't have to win any popularity contest to headline the revival of David Hare's Amy's View at the Garrick (November 11-March 17). The award-winning actress will have to be both warm and acerbic in this outing -- which won Dame Judi Dench the Tony Award -- which glides along as a mother-daughter study for a while but turns into a tough character examination in its last sequence. The daughter will be played by Jenna Russell, most recently seen in Sunday in the Park With George.

Openings this month that are likely to start some new-play buzz include The Lightning Play (Almeida, November 9-January 6), Charlotte Jones' follow-up to Humble Boy, about a ghost writer of celebrity bios and his family on Halloween. Patrick Marber, who got plenty of mileage out of Closer, has retooled Moliere's Don Juan for the Donmar Warehouse as Don Juan in Soho (November 30-February 10). There's also The Glass Room by Ryan Craig at the Hampstead (November 23-December 23).

People will also sit up and take notice when the Royal Court presents the premiere of Caryl Churchill's two-hander Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? (November 10-December 22) starring Tony Award winner Stephen Dillane and Ty Burrell. Upstairs at the Royal Court's Jerwood will be Scenes from the Back of Beyond (November 2-25) by Meredith Dukes.

Finally, at the National, one can take in Nicholas Wright's adaptation of Emile Zola's grim Therese Raquin (November 4-January 11), with the great Judy Parfitt starring as one of the three focal characters; Kate Mitchell's multi-media version of Virginia Woolf's The Waves (November 8-January 13); and the revival Coram Boy (November 29-February 20), the adaptation by Helen Edmundson of Jamila Gavin's children's book about violins and abandoned children. It is simply a must-see.

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