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Kevin Spaceys career boost

London (Reuters): Hollywood actor Kevin Spacey has opted for Shakespeare comedies and other likely hits in an attempt to reverse his critical fortunes at London's Old Vic theatre. Critics have turned on Spacey for what they see as a poor record at the helm of the famous London venue, and one questioned whether he should resign after Robert Altman's production of Arthur Miller's ''Resurrection Blues'' was panned. News that the Old Vic would remain empty for five months in 2006 further increased pressure on the 46-year-old American. But he reiterated yesterday that he had no intention of backing down. Spacey has committed to 10 years in the job, which he started in September 2004. ''I'm in it for the long haul,'' he said at the announcement of the lineup for next season.

''In the Old Vic tradition of celebrating great acting, big plays and a sense of event we're proud of the line-up we've assembled for our third season and beyond,'' Spacey added. Next season begins with Eugene O'Neill's ''A Moon for the Misbegotten'', in which Spacey himself will perform. Early next year the Old Vic will stage two Shakespeare comedies, ''The Taming of the Shrew'' and ''Twelfth Night'', both performed by Propeller, an all-male company. Then comes a production of ''The Entertainer'' to mark the 50th anniversary of John Osborne's play, with British actor Robert Lindsay as the struggling comedian Archie Rice.

In a bid to repeat the success of the hugely popular pantomime production ''Aladdin'', comedian Stephen Fry has agreed to write a new version of ''Cinderella'' for Christmas 2007. While the Oscar-winning star of ''American Beauty'' has had a rough ride since joining the Old Vic, Spacey's supporters point out that twice as many people came to the theatre during his first year in charge than came during the two preceding years.

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