SHOULD BRITNEY PLAY BOOZY BLANCHE IN WEST END?6th April 2008
IT SOUNDS like the perfect role for a Southern belle who has seen better days and is desperate to restore her fortunes.
So playing one of the theatre's most celebrated and tragic heroines might just be the way for Britney Spears to repair her damaged career.
The troubled pop star has been lined up to play Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, in London's West End - but the plan has already caused quite a stir.
The part of the fading, mentally unstable and booze-soaked belle won an Oscar for Vivien Leigh in the film of the Tennessee Williams play.
The tragic role holds up a mirror to Mississippi-born Britney's stormy personal life following a recent spell in hospital and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the mood-swing ailment. Vivien Leigh also suffered from depression.
But while fans might argue that her experience makes Britney, 26, a perfect Blanche, her casting has caused uproar on the London stage.
The star's critically acclaimed appearance as a tattoo clinic receptionist in the American TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother led to her chance of treading the boards in London's West End.
An unnamed producer reportedly offered her the role at the end of March. A theatre insider said: "Britney's been on the list for some time but was considered too risky. Her appearance in How I Met Your Mother changed all that. She had poise, timing and flair.
"We wanted her for Blanche because while she's technically too young, who else could embody this fallen Southern belle so well?
"Britney's done it all, from being desired beyond all others to facing ridicule that she can't quite understand - pure Blanche.
"She's living out the story, so to harness that on stage would be amazing for an audience to see and therapeutic for Britney, too."
But others in the theatre world insist that Britney could not be more wrong for the part of Blanche.
Theatre director Brian Timoney is so outraged that he has banned Britney from his premiere of The Pink Bedroom by Tennessee Williams, which opens at the Courtyard Theatre in He said: "This is an outrage. Tennessee Williams must be turning in his grave. Blanche was one of his most complex characters and the role requires a highly skilled actress to do it justice.
"This is obviuosly a ruse to get large audience numbers.
"Artistically speaking, casting Britney is like giving Shakespeare to a bricklayer. She wouldn't have got through the door at the auditions for my production."
Mr Timoney has not only banned Britney from his production but says he will encourage people to boycott her performance. He added: "Tennessee Williams wrote characters that need extensive development and talent to portray with any sort of depth."
Robert Goodman, who appeared in Martin Scorsese's film Gangs of New York, is starring in Mr Timoney's production.
He said: "Casting Britney as Blanche is like letting the lunatics out of the asylum.
"She might be able to empathise with the character but you need someone who knows what they are doing to play such a complex part."
Bill Kenwright, the brains behind the record-breaking tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, is being tipped to produce A Streetcar Named Desire. Mr Kenwright, who also produced Jesus Christ Superstar, Whistle Down the Wind and Blood Brothers, was awarded the CBE in 2000.
British screen hard men Jason Statham and Ray Winstone are understood to be among the actors being considered for the role of Blanche's brutish brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski, played by Marlon Brando in the 1951 film opposite Vivien Leigh.