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Friday, 17 May, 2002, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Newman returns to stage
Paul Newman
Newman divides his time between acting and racing
Paul Newman is to tread the boards at his local theatre after a 35 year absence from the stage.

The veteran star of the Hustler, the Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid will appear in Thornton Wilder's Our Town at the Westport Country Playhouse next month.

Wife Joanne Woodward is the artistic director at the theatre, which is near their south Connecticut home.

It wouldn't have dawned on me to ask him

Joanne Woodward
With a population of slightly more than 26,000, Westport is a refuge for wealthy New Yorkers and a rare stage appearance by its most famous resident is likely to provoke great excitement.

But the actress revealed her stellar husband was not the obvious first choice for the lead role of stage manager in the play.

Woodward said she did not think of her husband for the lead when she chose the play to open the theatre's season.

"It wouldn't have dawned on me to ask him," Woodward confided.

Woodward 'stunned'

When they discussed the play a few months ago, Newman insisted: "I could play that role."

Woodward replied: "And I said, 'Of course, you could', and then I went and took a bath.

"When I came back into the room, he said, 'Listen to this a minute', and then he recited the whole first speech," Woodward said.

"I was stunned."

Our Town won the Pulitzer Prize in 1938, and is set in 1903 in New Hampshire, exploring the nature of everyday pleasures.

See also:

06 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Hollywood lends West End its stars
13 May 02 | Arts
Madonna makes West End debut
21 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Neeson bares chest to Broadway
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