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Tuesday, 25 January, 2000, 11:40 GMT
McShane stages devilish comeback

McShane will make his musical debut in the show


Actor Ian McShane is to return to the West End stage for the first time in 30 years to take the lead in the musical comedy The Witches of Eastwick.

The 56-year-old star, best known as Lovejoy in the BBC TV series, will star as the devil incarnate, Darryl Van Horne, in the high-profile production which opens in July.

The announcement ends months of speculation surrounding the casting of the production, which is based on the novel by John Updike and the Hollywood film starring Jack Nicholson.


Michael Crawford was considered for the role
Among those considered for the lead were former Phantom of the Opera star Michael Crawford, and Hollywood actors Michael Douglas and Alec Baldwin.

Theatre impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh said: "Even though John Updike's outrageous creation Darryl Van Horne attracted the interest of many internationally known actors, I knew he would not be easy to cast.

"The part requires a very experienced comic actor with spellbinding sexy charm and, having a large number of songs to sing, the panache of a Broadway musical star.

"That we have found all these qualities in Ian McShane, who has always sung but has never been tempted to do a musical before, is a wonderful stroke of fate and I owe it to Lionel Bart for once tipping me off that Ian sang."

Star interest

A spokesman for Sir Cameron added that Michael Crawford had been involved in discussions about the prestigious part, but other commitments had prevented him from taking it.

McShane as loveable rogue Lovejoy
He added: "Michael Douglas and Alec Baldwin both asked to look at the role at an earlier stage too, but Ian is so perfectly suited to the role, and the great surprise to us was that he could sing up a storm."

The musical tells of the meeting between three modern-day American witches - played by Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer in the film version - and a mystery caller, Darryl Van Horne.

Starring alongside McShane in the musical version are US actress Lucie Arnaz and Olivier Award-winners Maria Friedman and Joanna Riding.

Prestigious peers

Ian McShane was originally trained at the prestigious RADA academy, where he was a contemporary of Sir Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt.

He made his name on the London stage in the 1960s and more recently has appeared in TV productions of Perry Mason, Columbo, Madson and Babylon 5.

Recalling McShane's early career, Sir Cameron Mackintosh said: "The last time I saw Ian on stage was when I was a stagehand at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1967, and he was across the road at the Fortune Theatre starring with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen in a brilliant production of The Promise.

"I am delighted that 33 years later a little witchcraft has brought us both back to Drury Lane."
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16 Sep 99 |  Entertainment
Crawford comes clean

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