Victor Spinetti has died of prostate cancer at a hospice in Monmouth on the morning of 18 June 2012, his agent announced. Spinetti had been visited shortly before his death by Barbara Windsor, who had co-starred with him in the West End production of Oh! What a Lovely War. Windsor said: "We were very close. He was another of my great friends from that era. He was such a great man," adding "He was such a good actor because he took notice of people and used their characters. He portrayed them wonderfully, whatever he did." Spinetti's work in Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop produced many memorable performances including Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1959, by Frank Norman, with music by Lionel Bart), and Oh! What a Lovely War (1963), which transferred to New York City and for which he won a Tony Award for his main role as an obnoxious Drill Sergeant. He has appeared in the West End in The Odd Couple (as Felix); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the West End; as Albert Einstein in a critically lauded performance in 2005 in a new play, Albert's Boy at the Finborough Theatre in 2005 and in his own one-man show, A Very Private Diary. One of Spinetti's most challenging theatre roles was as the principal male character in Jane Arden's radical feminist play Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven, which played to packed houses for six weeks at the Arts Lab on Drury Lane in 1969. In 1980 he directed The Biograph Girl, a musical about the silent film era, at the Phoenix Theatre. He has also appeared on Broadway in The Hostage and The Philanthropist. He has also acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in such roles as Lord Foppington in The Relapse and the Archbishop in Richard III. Spinetti co-authored In His Own Write, the play with John Lennon which he also directed at the National Theatre, premiering on 18 June 1968, at the Old Vic. Spinetti and Lennon appeared together in June 1968 on BBC2's Release. During the interview, Spinetti said of the play, "it's not really John’s childhood, it's all of ours really, isn’t it John?" John Lennon, assuming a camp voice answered "It is, we're all one Victor, we're all one aren't we. I mean 'what's going on?'" Spinetti said the play "is about the growing up of any of us; the things that helped us to be more aware". He also directed Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair, including productions staged in Europe. His many television appearances on British TV, include Take My Wife in which he played a London-based booking agent and schemer who was forever promising his comedian client that fame was just around the corner, and the sitcom An Actor's Life For Me. In September 2008 Spinetti reprised his one-man show, A Very Private Diary, touring the UK, as A Very Private Diary ... Revisited!, telling his life story.
Disney has announced full casting for the first ever UK tour of The Lion King, which opens on 31 August at Bristol’s Hippodrome Theatre. Members of the cast hail from 12 different countries with the roles of Young Simba and Young Nala to be played by local talent. The company is made up of 46 members including Cleveland Cathnott, who is currently part of the London company of The Lion King and will be playing the role of Mufasa. Stephen Carlile will take on the role of Scar while Nicholas Nkuna makes his UK debut as Simba. Carol Stenett will continue her role as Nala from the West End production and Gugwana Dlamini will return to her previous role of Rafiki. Other actors to join the cast consist of John Hasler (Timon), Mark Roper (Pumbaa), Gbemisola Ikumelo (Shenzi), Daniel Norford (Banzai) and Philip Oakland (Ed). The Lion King has now played in 15 different countries and been translated into 6 different languages. The UK tour will be the 20th production to premiere internationally.
Geoffrey Rush will lead John Frost’s production of Sondheim's A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM when it opens in Melbourne Saturday, October 27 at Her Majesty’s Theatre. The show will be directed by Simon Phillips and will feature a cast of Australian comedy actors.
THE LANDOR THEATRE BRINGS ANOTHER EUROPEAN PREMIERE TO LONDON
The Kander & Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago) 2007 Broadway hit opens on 27th July and runs until the 1st September.