Good news for lovers of the ultramarathon theatrical experience: The Shubert Organization will bring the Royal Shakespeare Company to the States this summer for a coast-to-coast revival of "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby." The company's coartistic director, Trevor Nunn, will direct the adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1837 novel, which will reach the National Theatre sometime in December.
During its 14-week engagement in New York in 1981, "Nicholas Nickleby" tickets cost $100. The show was presented in two parts, ran 8 1/2 hours and featured a cast of 42 and 400 costumes. It is too soon to know how much tickets to the upcoming production will cost.
Nunn, whose credits include "Cats" and "Starlight Express," recently took over directing duties for "Chess," the new Tim Rice/Abba musical set to open in London in May. Nunn relieves Michael Bennett, who was recently hospitalized with angina. "Chess," which has broken the record for advance box-office sales in London, receives its American premiere at the National Theatre in January 1986. Britain, Tracking Bond
Sharon Ott didn't have an easy time finding Edward Bond in England last fall to persuade him to allow her to direct his play "Restoration," which runs at Arena Stage through Feb. 23. "I tracked him down," Ott told the cast at the first rehersal. "It was really like a 'Spy Versus Spy' cartoon.
"He says he lives in Wilbritham," Ott said of the reclusive playwright who had not given her his phone number. "[But] he doesn't tell you that there is a Great Wilbritham, a Little Wilbritham, a Wilbritham General and all these little Wilbrithams. All I heard from Bond was, 'When you see the sign, it's the first house on the left.' "
Ott did manage to find the right Wilbritham, Great Wilbritham, a tiny town where Bond has been embroiled in a 15-year-running argument with the village squire over public land, which is an issue in "Bingo," one of his earlier plays. But when Ott presented herself at the door of the first house on the left, she was greeted by a man who said, "Oh, dear, Mr. Bond. He's in the last house on the right."
Ott was amused to learn later that she not only had entered Great Wilbritham from the wrong direction, but also arrived at the house of Bond's longtime rival, the village squire. Arena's Fundraiser
The Arena Stage Campaign is closing in on its fund-raising goal of $6 million. As of last Friday, the campaign had raised $5.1 million, with recent corporate commitments from IBM, Exxon and Comsat. "We're in the home stretch," said Arena public relations associate Shawn Fraser, adding that raising the final $900,000 would be "the most difficult." Fraser said Arena would soon be contacting more than 10,000 individual patrons, asking them for their support. Arena anticipates concluding the fund drive by June 30. College Regional Festival
The Castle Performing Arts Center in Hyattsville will host this year's American College Theatre Regional Festival Feb. 19-22. Six productions by colleges in mid-Atlantic states will be presented, with the "highest adjudicated" advancing to the National Festival at the Kennedy Center from March 31 to April 13.
In addition, 45 participants will compete for the Irene Ryan Award for acting. Workshops with theater professors also will be open to the public. For information, tickets or workshop registration, call 277-6121. Odds and Ends
"Social Security," the new play that will star Marlo Thomas, is now scheduled to premiere at the National Theatre on March 4. The show was to have a one-week run in Wilmington, Del., before coming to Washington, but those plans were scrapped when rehearsals were suspended after director Mike Nichols suffered a heart-related illness . . . The Performance Improv Jam has moved from the 1730 Loft to the Jarry, at 1845 14th St. NW, where there is more room for actors, musicians, poets, writers and other uninhibited people to present their work with reckless abandon. The next jam is set for Saturday at 10 p.m.; call 462-2774 . . . Tickets are now on sale for the 1986 Hexagon revue, "Roast of the Town," which will benefit the Hospital for Sick Children; call 642-9317 . . . C.T. Rex will present its production of "The Heart of the Dragon," a new adventure-comedy designed for family audiences, Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Reston Community Center . . . "Automatic Pilot" has been extended at Horizons Theatre through March 2 . . . "Jeeves Takes Charge," Edward Duke's one-man salute to British humorist P.G. Wodehouse, returns to Ford's Theatre tonight for a three-week engagement.