Judi Dench and Helen Mirren head the cast list for the Post-Gazette's early spring Critic's Choice theater tour to London, March 10-17, when the daffodils and magnolias will be in bloom. Along with London's palaces, street life, museums, cathedrals and pubs, the trip features three plays and a chance to see several more. Chosen so far are:
• "Peter and Alice," John Logan's new play about Alice Liddell and Peter Davies, played by Ms. Dench and Ben Whishaw (James Bond's new Q). Alice and Peter are the real-life people who inspired "Alice in Wonderland" and "Peter Pan." "Enchantment and reality collide," says the press release. (Note: we will see "Peter and Alice" in the first week of its previews, before it has been reviewed by the critics.)
• "The Audience," with Ms. Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, is by Peter Morgan, who wrote "The Queen," the movie in which Ms. Mirren also played Elizabeth II and won an Oscar. In this new play, the queen meets with a series of prime ministers, from Churchill to Cameron.
• Our third play will be chosen from several possibilities which star Rowan Atkinson, Rupert Everett, Kristen Scott Thomas and Anthony Sher.
Critic's Choice tours are informal, with two dozen people tops, led by senior theater critic Chris Rawson. The group will stay at the Radisson Edwardian Kenilworth Hotel, a block from the British Museum and in walking distance of the West End theaters, Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square.
Whatever other play is included in the group package, you can also choose to see more on your own, or you can concentrate even more on London's other delights. Each day there will be an optional guided tour, but you will also want to strike out on your own, using the bus and subway pass provided.
Included are round-trip air between Pittsburgh and London; transfers between the London airport and hotel; full English breakfast daily; welcoming dinner; four theater tickets; London bus and subway pass; a guided London walking tour; taxes, VAT and gratuities on included items; and Mr. Rawson's guidance throughout.
The basic tour price is $2,999, double-occupancy. The single supplement is $597. For registration, a deposit of $500 per person is required, along with completed Reservation Request Form. All payments are to be made to Gulliver's Travels Inc., 460 S. Graham St., Pittsburgh PA 15232-1210.
For further information on details, call Gulliver's at 412-441-3131. For information on the plays or London sights, call Mr. Rawson at 412-216-1944.