Collins follows Hollywood rush to tread London stage

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The Independent Culture

The ceaseless trail of Hollywood stars to the London stage is to continue with the first appearance by Joan Collins in a decade and the return of Nicole Kidman three years after her startling West End debut.

Collins is to star in the British premiere of a Broadway hit, Moon Over Buffalo, at the Old Vic from next month.

And Kidman will mark the end of Trevor Nunn's troubled directorship of the National Theatre next year with an appearance on the South Bank in Ibsen's Lady from the Sea.

The Australian actress will also return to the Donmar Warehouse, scene of her first appearance on the London stage three years ago in The Blue Room, to take part in two other plays.

Speaking before flying to London for last night's premiere of her latest film, Moulin Rouge, Kidman said she will work on two plays with Sam Mendes, the acclaimed theatre director who directed The Blue Room and has also wowed Hollywood with his Oscar-winning movie American Beauty. But she refused to divulge details. "I'm not allowed to say until we work it all out – Sam would kill me," she said.

But she did confirm her intention to star in Ibsen's play for Nunn, who retires from the National next year.

Perhaps capitalising on the trauma of her recent divorce from Tom Cruise, she will play a beautiful young woman unhappily married to a country director and pining for her former lover, a sailor.

Kidman's return is likely to provoke critical and box office interest, despite criticisms of the trend towards using American stars such as Kathleen Turner, Jerry Hall and Macaulay Culkin in the West End. Although it was her brief appearance naked in The Blue Room that won headlines and sent tickets prices soaring, she was widely praised by the critics for the performance as a string of different characters in the version of the sexual daisy-chain drama, La Ronde, updated by David Hare.

Pre-empting a new scramble at the box office, the Donmar Warehouse and the National said yesterday that dates for all three of the new projects were still being finalised.

A Donmar spokeswoman said Kidman's return was at least a year away. "Nicole always expressed an interest in coming back," she added. "She did enjoy her time here."

In the meantime, theatre fans searching for star quality will have to make do with home-made Hollywood names.

Joan Collins, the 68-year-old actress best known for her role in the long-running saga Dynasty, announced her return yesterday to the British stage after an absence of 10 years.

She is to appear alongside Frank Langella, American stage and screen veteran and the former partner of Whoopi Goldberg, in the British premiere of Moon Over Buffalo, which was a hit for Carol Burnett on Broadway in 1995.

The play will open on one of the most historic stages in London, the Old Vic, next month after weeks in Guildford and Bath, directed by Ray Cooney, the writer and director currently enjoying a surprise success with Caught in the Net, his sequel to Run For Your Wife.

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