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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 08:27 GMT
Theatre hails Spacey appointment
Kevin and Courtney Love
Spacey and Love appeared on stage
Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey and singer Sir Elton John hosted a star-studded concert on Wednesday to raise money to restore London's historic Old Vic theatre.

The concert, held on Wednesday night, also celebrated actor Spacey's announcement that he is taking over as artistic director of the theatre.

US rock star Courtney Love stole the show by dueting in a Daffy Duck outfit with Sir Elton, before stripping to her underwear.

She performed just hours after she was cautioned for an alleged incident during a flight from Los Angeles to London on Tuesday.

The Old Vic
The Old Vic: Leaking roof and cracks in the walls
Sitting in the audience was Sir Richard Branson, boss of the Virgin Atlantic airline company which had complained to police about the singer.

Other stars who performed renditions of classic Sir Elton hits included Elvis Costello, Craig David and Sting.

Sir Elton, who struggled with a sore throat, belted out a number of his own songs.

Also entertaining the audience, who had paid up to 1,000 for a ticket, were actors Joseph Fiennes, Peter O'Toole and Cate Blanchett.

A star-studded party was held at the Old Billingsgate Fish Market after the show.

Spacey has pledged his future to saving and restoring the Old Vic.

I do not underestimate the level of commitment this project is going to require of me

Kevin Spacey
He has promised to appear in at least two plays a year and will also direct.

The Oscar-winning star will run the new company and make a "significant" time commitment for the job - but will not give up making movies.

Commitment

Major restoration work needs to be completed on the venue, including fixing a leaky roof and cracked walls.

The concert was expected to raise 500,000, and Spacey has already invested 100,000 of his own money.

Sir Elton John and David Furnish
Sir Elton John arrived at the after-show party with partner David Furnish
Spacey said earlier in the day: "I do not underestimate the level of commitment this project is going to require of me," he said.

"It is something that I feel deeply about, have put over two years of thought towards and frankly is something I am utterly overjoyed at having reached a decision upon."

Spacey, who has won Oscars for The Usual Suspects and American Beauty, fell in love with the Old Vic after being taken there during a childhood holiday.

He appeared on the Old Vic stage in The Iceman Cometh in 1998, and has been heavily involved in fund-raising and running the theatre since becoming a trustee that year.

He's so passionate and I believe in it so much - that's why I joined as chairman

Sir Elton John on Kevin Spacey
The Southwark-based Old Vic is one of London's oldest theatres, having opened in 1818.

It has played host to performances from Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Alec Guinness, Vivien Leigh, Peter O'Toole and Dame Judi Dench.

The 1,000-seat theatre was saved from property developers by impresario Sally Greene in 1998 but still needs millions of pounds to ensure its survival.

Sir Elton said: "Kevin's talent is exceptional, but what has truly inspired me is his passion for, and commitment to, this theatre.

"I know that under his leadership a permanent company at the theatre will bring a totally new dynamic so that the Old Vic remains one of the most important theatres in the world."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rachel Ellison
"Kevin Spacey says he wants to attract the biggest Hollywood names to the Old Vic"

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

06 Feb 03 | Entertainment
06 Feb 03 | Entertainment
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27 Jul 00 | Entertainment
05 Feb 03 | Entertainment
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