May 14, 2002 10:00 AM

Madonna gave her first performance in London’s West End Monday night, in the public preview of the Australian comedy hit “Up for Grabs,” reports the Associated Press. Fans reportedly queued up in the rain outside Wyndham’s Theatre for the chance to witness the landmark. One audience member was quoted afterward, according to AP, as saying that the star, 43, appeared nervous at first but that she eased into her role and greatly improved as the play went on. The preview Monday marked Madonna’s first major stage appearance since 1988 in New York, when she appeared in David Mamet’s “Speed-The-Plow” on Broadway. (Reviews of that performance were mixed at the time, though the influential then-critic of The New York Times, Frank Rich, performed somersaults over her.) No matter how critics in London will ultimately judge her, Madonna has already proved to be a potent box-office name. Tickets for the David Williamson show, about an ambitious art dealer, reportedly sold out within 10 days. After Monday’s public preview, the star, under tight security, reportedly left the theater by the front entrance, where she was whisked away in a waiting car. Fans screamed as she appeared outside, reports AP, and her path was blocked by photographers and camera crews.

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