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HESTON’S QUEEG TO STEER FOR HOME

Tonight Charlton Heston wraps up his successful West End run as Capt. Queeg in Herman Wouk’s play, “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial.” He’ll stay over a couple of days to attend the U.S. ambassador’s dinner for visiting Vice President George Bush, and then, on the day his British work permit expires, hotfoot it for home.

He can’t wait. He is tired of the rain--it’s been the wettest June here in 14 years, and the sodden city and its seemingly permanent gray shroud are beginning to depress him.

But damp and dreary though the weather has been, Heston’s first-ever appearance on the West End stage has been a triumph. London critics, most of whom had never seen him in the theater, may have come ready to sneer at the lantern jaw and make jokes about his painting the ceiling (as in “The Agony and the Ecstasy”), but they stayed to cheer his performance as Queeg.

“It has been rewarding,” said Heston the other day. “I’d been trying for years to do a play in London and this seemed like a good one--I didn’t want to invest a lot of time and energy in something that might not work, whereas there’s an eternal fascination about a courtroom drama.”

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At one point, Heston thought of alternating the roles of Queeg and Barney Greenwald--the man who defends the officer accused of seizing Queeg’s command--but when he was asked to direct the piece as well, he realized this would be impossible.

“But it all seems to have worked out well,” he said. “And Ben Cross (from “Chariots of Fire”) is wonderful as Greenwald, I think.”

Originally Heston had planned a much shorter run in the play but when his wife Lydia had to undergo major back surgery in a London hospital, he extended the run to coincide with her convalescence.

“Now she’s fine,” he said. “She’s even swimming again. But like me, she’s anxious to get home.”

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A tennis buff for years, Heston has been playing three times a week at a club here--"indoors, of course,” he added bleakly. But yesterday he risked the rain to visit Wimbledon.

Now he hopes to bring “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial” to the United States. The plan is to do a short tour and then finish up at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles.

“We’d take the same set--which cost about a third of what it would in New York--and ship it over, together with the naval costumes,” he said. “Even so, they tell me just to take it over and advertise it has got to cost $150,000. That seems incredible to me.”

NOTICE GIVEN: Is actor Anthony Andrews a male chauvinist pig? Better ask his wife, Georgina Simpson. Outside his London house is a sign that reads: “The arbitrary opinions of the enchanting female of this house are not necessarily shared by the male occupant but on occasion are tolerated by him.”

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NOISES OFF: Glenda Jackson, now back home from her Broadway run in Eugene O’Neill’s rarely performed and very long play, “Strange Interlude,” hopes to find something a little less taxing for her next venture.

“That play was so long and people got so hungry that someone set up a nut stand outside the theater. It wasn’t such a good idea, because during some of my heaviest scenes you could hardly hear me for the crunching.”


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