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News and Events

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th April 2014

This year's Laurence Olivier Awards were dominated by the Almeida Theatre with Chimerica taking 5, including New Play and Director - Lyndsey Turner; and Ghosts winning 3, including Play Revival and Actress Play - Lesley Manville; and The Book Of Mormon taking 3, including New Musical and Actor Musical - Gavin Creel. Other highlights include Actor Play - Rory Kinnear - Othello, Actress Musical - Zrinka Cvitesic - Once, and Musical Revival - Merrily We Roll Along. Full details of all the nominees and winners can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite below.

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the 17th Kids Week in the West End, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience, with thousands of free tickets and special events. Once again this year it will run for a whole month, from 1st to 31st August. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to West End shows, with up to 2 additional children at half price. There will be accompanying events taking place, including backstage tours, workshops, classes, storytelling and 'meet the cast' opportunities. There are also freebies and discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages. Booking opens on 17th June.

The Southbank Centre has announced the return of ZooNation's Groove On Down The Road, a Hip-Hop version of The Wizard Of Oz, written and directed by Kate Prince, with a score featuring music from the 1978 film The Wiz, re-mixed with current hits by DJ Walde, and a cast of under 19 year olds, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, from 5th to 26th August; and Slava's Snowshow, Russian clown Slava Polunin's wordless show that sees a group of clowns overcoming various physical obstacles, culminating in the coup de theatre of a blizzard, at the Royal Festival Hall from 17th December to 5th January, produced by Mark Goucher, Matthew Gale and Jenny King by arrangement with Slava and Gwenael Allan.

Hampstead Theatre will stage Beth Steel's Wonderland, about the 1984 miner's strike, directed by Edward Hall, opening on 26th June.

New York TheatreNet: The upcoming Chicago Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of Kenneth Lonergan's This Is Our Youth, set in New York in 1982, and following 48 hours in the lives of 3 very lost young souls, with Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson, directed by Anna D Shapiro, will open at the Cort Theatre on 11th September. Lincoln Center Theater will stage the premiere of Sarah Ruhl's The Oldest Boy, about a young American boy who is believed to be a reincarnation of a high Buddhist teacher, directed by Rebecca Taichman, opening at the Mitzi E Newhouse Theater on 10th November. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

Michael Blakemore's Stage Blood, published by Faber & Faber, is a memoir about his time as associate director of the National Theatre, charting the transitions from the directorship of Laurence Olivier to Peter Hall, and the Old Vic to the new National building. Having staged 8 productions for the National, Blakemore found himself increasingly uncomfortable under Hall's regime, and this is a candid and at times painfully funny account of the events that led to his dramatic exit in 1976. Blakemore recalls the theatrical triumphs and flops, his volatile relationship with Olivier, including directing him in Long Day's Journey Into Night, the extravagant dinners in Hall's Barbican flat with Harold Pinter, Jonathan Miller and the other associates, the opening of the new building, and his brave and misrepresented decision to speak out.

On The Casting Couch: Seth Numrich, Anthony Calf, Elaine Cassidy, Caoilfhionn Dunne, Susan Engel, David Fielder, Joshua James, Karl Johnson, Tim McMullan, Jack McMullen, Siobhan McSweeney, Phoebe Sparrow and Lindy Whiteford will feature in Brian Friel's Fathers And Sons, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 10th June.

Forthcoming productions at Southwark Playhouse, at the Elephant and Castle, will include Hannah Moscovitch's East Of Berlin, a memory play about redemption from the sins of our fathers, directed by Blythe Stewart, opening on 20th June, produced by Robyn Keynes in association with Theatre In Heights; and Jack Shepherd's In Lambeth, featuring an encounter between Tom Paine and William Blake, against a background of revolution in American and France, opening on 11th July, produced by Spellbound Productions.

This year's Opera Holland Park season will run from 3rd June to 9th August, with the City of London Sinfonia as resident orchestra, and will comprise new productions of Puccini's La fanciulla del West, directed by Stephen Barlow; Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, directed by Oliver Platt; Benjamin Britten's The Turn Of The Screw, directed by Annilese Miskimmon; Bellini's Norma, directed by Olivia Fuchs; and Francesco Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur, directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans; plus a revival of last year's production of Will Todd's family opera Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, directed by Martin Duncan. The Theatre is located in the middle of Holland Park and uses the ruins of Holland House as a backdrop to the performances. Both stage and audience are covered by a canopy. Further information and online booking can be found on the OHP web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The spring season at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester will include the premieres of Simon Armitage's The Last Days Of Troy, adapted from Homer's The Iliad, with Gilliam Bevan, David Birrell, Richard Bremmer, Clare Calbraith, Lily Cole, Garry Cooper, Jake Fairbrother, Simon Harrison, Brendan O'Hea, Tom Stuart, Colin Tierney and Francesca Zoutewelle, directed by Nick Bagnall, from 8th May; and Gareth Farr's Britain Waves The Rules, in which a boy who joins the army to escape his humdrum life gets a rude awakening in Afghanistan, with Clare Calbraith, Simon Harrison, Dan Parr, Colin Tierney and Francesca Zoutewelle, directed by Nick Bagnall, from 27th May; plus Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall's Bill Liar, in which a northern clerk in the late 1950s dreams of escaping to another life in London but lacks the courage to do it, with Aaron Anthony, Emily Barber, Jack Deam, Rebekah Hinds, Harry McEntire, Lisa Millett, Katie Moore, and Sue Wallace, directed by Sam Yates, from 13th June.


Opening This Week

Privacy - Donmar Warehouse
Gunnar Cauthery, Paul Chahidi, Jonathan Coy, Joshua McGuire, Nina Sosanya and Michelle Terry in the premiere of James Graham’s play questioning whether such a thing as privacy exists in the digital age, directed by Josie Rourke.
Hamlet - Shakespeare’s Globe
A new small scale production of Shakespeare’s greatest play, directed by Dominic Dromgoole and Bill Buckhurst, launching a two year world tour.
The Silver Tassie - National Lyttelton
Sean O’Casey’s play telling of the effects of the First World War on a local hero in Ireland, with Ronan Raftery, Aidan McArdle, Adam Best, Aidan Kelly, Stephen Kennedy and Deirdre Mullins, directed by Howard Davies.
Uncle Vanya / Three Sisters - Wyndham’s
The Moscow State Academic Theatre productions of Anton Chekhov’s stories of unrequited love, dogged perseverance, and the strength of the human spirit, and three siblings living in a rural dacha yearning for the city life in Moscow, with Aleksandr Domogarov, Julia Vysotskaya, Pavel Derevyanko, Natalia Vdovina, Irina Kartasheva, Aleksandr Bobrovsky, Larisa Kuznetsova, Galina Bob, Vitaly Kistchenko, Anatoly Grishin and Vladas Bagdonas, directed by Andrei Konchalovsky.


First Nights

22nd - Privacy - Donmar Warehouse
23rd - Hamlet - Shakespeare’s Globe
23rd - The Silver Tassie - National Lyttelton
24th - Uncle Vanya / Three Sisters - Wyndham’s
28th - Much Ado About Nothing - Shakespeare’s Globe
1st - Titus Andronicus - Shakespeare’s Globe
5th - All’s Well That Ends Well - Shakespeare’s Globe
8th - Yellow Face - National Shed
8th - Yellow Face - National Shed
8th - 1984 - Playhouse
13th - The Pajama Game - Shaftesbury
17th - Wolf Hall / Bring Up The Bodies - Aldwych


19th - Cool Rider - Duchess
19th - The Malcontent - Wanamaker
19th - The Weir - Wyndham’s
26th - Hamlet - Shakespeare’s Globe
30th - Home - National Shed
3rd - Uncle Vanya / Three Sisters - Wyndham’s
10th - All’s Well That Ends Well - Shakespeare’s Globe
11th - A Taste Of Honey - National Lyttelton