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The combination of double-Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and top producer David Liddiment at this 200-year-old Waterloo theatre continues to be a commercial success – though Spacey's controversial artistic leadership has frequently come under critical fire. Still, the Old Vic's a great place to catch high-profile actors – Ian McKellen, Robert Lindsay and Neve Campbell have all trod its boards. David Mamet's 'Speed-the-Plow' thrilled audiences in 2008 and was followed by a winning revival of Alan Ayckbourn's 'The Norman Conquests' – a show that saw the venue spectacularly remodeled into a theatre-in-the-round. Summer 2009 heralded the first of Sam Mendes's The Bridge Projects, an Anglo-American collaboration between Mendes, the Old Vic and Joseph V Melillo's Brooklyn Academy of Music, that enticed Ethan Hawke to the British stage for its Shakespeare/Chekhov double bill.
Though set back slightly from the chaotic Circus, the Piccadilly theatre is no stranger to crowds. ‘Guys and Dolls’ (directed by golden boy Michael Grandage of Donmar Warehouse) attracted hordes of Ewan McGregor fans in 2005 as the actor pitched up as playboy Sky, while ‘Grease’ in 2007 played the reality TV card by casting winners of ‘Grease Is the Word’, Danny Bayne and Susan McFadden, as Danny and Sandy. A more sober claim to fame: the Piccadilly operated for a short time as a cinema and was behind the screening of the first ‘talkie’ in Britain – Warner Brothers’ 1928 film ‘The Singing Fool’.