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News and Events

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st August 2014

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Tony Award winning Broadway musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, a biomusical about the writer and singer, and her collaborators Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, directed by Marc Bruni, with choreography by Jason Howland, will open at the Aldwych Theatre in February.

The current Menier Chocolate Factory production of Forbidden Broadway, the legendary revue that has been lampooning Broadway theatre on and off for the last 30 years, created and written by Gerard Alessandrini, with Christina Bianco joining Anna-Jane Casey, Damian Humbley and Ben Lewis, directed by Phillip George and Gerard Alessandrini, will transfer to the Vaudeville Theatre, opening on 15th September. It is produced by Chocolate Factory Productions, Thelma Holt, Tanya Link Productions and Glass Half Full/Just for Laughs Theatricals, in association with John Freedson and Harriet Yellin.

The London Theatre Report, commissioned by the National Theatre and Society Of London Theatre, written by the editor of The Stage newspaper Alistair Smith, reveals the quantity of theatre available in the West End and beyond. There are 241 professional venues, ranging from the 30 seat space at the Lord Stanley Pub in Camden to the 3,600 seat Hammersmith Apollo, totaling more than 110,000 seats. In the year 2012/2013 there were 22m tickets sold, producing revenue of £618.5m, with an average seat price of £27.76. Commercial theatre accounts for more than half of all capacity in London, with 56,000 seats in 59 venues. At any one time London's theatres employ more than 3,000 performers, more than 6,500 full-time non-performing staff, and 5,000 part-time non-performing staff.

The Bush Theatre in Shepherds Bush will stage the premiere of Chris Thompson's Albion, set in an East End pub that acts as the home of the English Protection Army and charts the rise of the new far right, with Natalie Casey, Delroy Atkinson, Paul Ham, Steve John Shephard, Dharmesh Patel, Nicola Harrison and Tony Clay, directed by Ria Parry, opening on 19th September.

Feelgood Theatre Productions will stage Stephen MacDonald's Not About Heroes, about the meeting of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and how they went on to write some of the 20th century's greatest war poetry, directed by Caroline Clegg, opening at Trafalgar Studios 2 on 11th November.

New York TheatreNet: The Vineyard Theatre will stage Mike Bencivenga's Billy & Ray, set in 1940s Hollywood, telling the story of director Billy Wilder and novelist Raymond Chandler's attempt to adapt Double Indemnity for the screen, directed by Garry Marshall, opening on 20th October. Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! - The Musical, the classic tale of a grumpy hermit who hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville, book and lyrics by Timothy Mason, and music by Mel Marvin, which includes 2 songs from the 1966 animated film, directed by Matt August, with choreography by Bob Richard, based on the original choreography by John DeLuca, will return to the Theater at Madison Square Garden from December 5th to 25th. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

RIVE Productions will stage Marius von Mayenburg's The Dog, The Night And The Knife, a dark absurdist comedy charting a nightmare journey meeting fantastic creatures, with Michael Edwards, Beth Park and Stephen Ventura, directed by Oliver Dawe, opening at the Arcola Theatre, in Dalston, on 23rd September.

The British Film Institute's Statistical Yearbook has revealed that live screenings of theatre productions in cinemas across Britain pioneered by the National Theatre generated £7.2m at the box office last year from 14 shows. Opera generated £4.8m, ballet took £2.1m, classical music £900,000, popular music £500,000 and comedy £100,000. The analysis notes that event cinema is becoming a regular feature as more cinemas have been equipped with digital screens, and offer the prospect of generating more revenue because the novelty value of only one or two screenings can result in a higher occupancy than a film, and also command higher ticket prices.

The autumn season at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh will include DC Jackson's Kill Johnny Glendenning, a murderous comedy of the Glasgow underworld, taking aim at the tabloid celebrity culture and macho glamour of the gangster life, with Philip Cairns, Kern Falconer, David Ireland, Steven McNicoll, Paul Samson, Joanne Thomson and Josh Whitelaw, directed by Mark Thomson, from 17th September, a co-production with the Citizens Theatre Glasgow; Sue Glover's Bondagers, the story of six women land workers as they graft and dance their way through a year on a 19th century Borders farm, directed by Lu Kemp, from 22nd October; and David Wood's adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG, the story of young orphan who is whisked off to Giant Country by the 15ft BFG (Big Friendly Giant), directed by Andrew Panton, from 28th November.

The Off Broadway musical comedy Altar Boyz, book by Kevin Del Aguila, music and lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walker, conceived by Marc Kessler and Ken Davenport, about a pious boy band who are faced with the temptations of the Big Apple, directed by Stephen Dexter, will receive its British premiere at Greenwich Theatre on 3rd October. The producer is Paul Taylor Mills.

The autumn season at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry will include in the Main House: the premiere of Peter Arnott's Propaganda Swing, about jazz musicians involvement in the Nazi propaganda during the Second World War, directed by Hamish Glen, opening on 16th September, a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse; and the pantomime Aladdin, written, directed by and featuring Iain Lauchlan, from 26th November, a co-production with Imagine Theatre; and in the B2 Stage: Bob Eaton's Three Minute Heroes, a tribute to ska music and the 2 Tone record label in the Coventry of the late '70s and early '80s, opening on 8th October; and the return of Oh No It Isn't, written and directed by Nick Walker, a murder mystery set on stage at a pantomime, opening on 9th December.


Opening This Week

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part 2 - Garrick
British history as it has never been told before, adapted from Terry Deary’s children’s books, including what it was like to battle Boudicca, and how to escape the clutches of grave robbers Burke and Hare.
My Night With Reg - Donmar Warehouse
Kevin Elyot’s play about the fragility of friendship in the story of the reclusive man and his circle of friends, with Jonathan Broadbent, Julian Ovenden, Matt Bardock, Richard Cant, Lewis Reeves and Geoffrey Streatfeild.
Hetty Feather - Vaudeville
Jacqueline Wilson’s story of the adventures of a Victorian child who escapes from the Foundling Hospital to find a family of her own comes to the stage.
King Lear - Shakespeare’s Globe
Shakespeare’s study of age and rage, with Joseph Marcell, Gwendolen Chatfield, Bethan Cullinane and Shanaya Rafaat, directed by Bill Buckhurst.
I Believe In Unicorns - Vaudeville
Michael Morpurgo’s story about a boy who hates school and reading whose life is turned upside down by a meeting in his local library, adapted and performed by Danyah Miller.


First Nights

3rd - Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain Part 2 - Garrick
5th - My Night With Reg - Donmar Warehouse
6th - Hetty Feather - Vaudeville
6th - King Lear - Shakespeare’s Globe
8th - I Believe In Unicorns - Vaudeville
28th - To Kill A Mockingbird - Open Air


2nd - Handbagged - Vaudeville
2nd - Hotel - National Shed
9th - Bakersfield Mist - Duchess
9th - The Nether - Royal Court
23rd - Porgy And Bess - Open Air
23rd - Daytona - Haymarket
23rd - King Lear - Shakespeare’s Globe
23rd - 1984 - Playhouse
23rd - Great Britain - National Lyttelton
23rd - Skylight - Wyndham’s
24th - Antony And Cleopatra - Shakespeare’s Globe
24th - Holy Warriors - Shakespeare’s Globe
27th - A Small Family Business - National Lyttelton
30th - The Bodyguard - Adelphi
30th - Let The Right One In - Apollo