Due in Australia by air from San Francisco within a few days are the big three of the Old Vic Company, which begins its Australian tour in Melbourne on July 12. They are actress Vivien Leigh, who will be in Australia for about twelve months, Canadian actor John Merivale, who these days is Vivien’s constant companion, and Robert Helpmann, the tour director.
In Australia the Old Vic will present three plays: “The Lady of the Camellias,” adapted by Andrew Allan from the Dumas classic; Christopher Fry’s adaptation of “Duel of Angels,” by Giraudoux; and Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.” Leading the company, Vivien will play Marguerite in “The Lady of the Camellias,” the tempestuous Paola in “Duel,” and Viola in “Twelfth Night.”
For “The Lady of the Camellias,” dresses and decor have been done by Carl Toms, who decorated the Kensington Palace for Princess Margaret and Mr. Antony Armstrong-Jones.
Betty Best, of our London staff, reports that if the weeks of rehearsals in London were anything to judge by, the Old Vic season in Melbourne will be a merry one. She attended rehearsals in the Finsbury Park Empire–shell of a once-famous variety theatre in the north of London.
“It was fascinating to watch the plays grow under the expert Helpmann guidance,” Betty said. “A stickler for detail, he acted most of the parts himself in showing the cast exactly what he wanted to convey, and his quick humor whipped the company into gales of laughter when the long hours of rehearsal became wearying.”