News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st January 1998

It is customary at this time to look back over the year, and review triumphs and failures. Well we don't do that here, because we are more interested in the future than the past, so we look forward to what will happen - all based on hard, solid, um, er, rumour.

Inspired by the success of The Lion King, Disney is to proceed with a stage version of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, with music by Alan Menkin, and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz . It will be directed by James Lapine, and produced in New York in 1999, although it may be tried out in Germany first. Disney also plans to premiere Tim Rice and Elton John's Aida as a stage musical rather than a film, possibly with a different title.

The Donmar Warehouse is to co-produce a revival of Tom Stoppard's first West End success The Real Inspector Hound with the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford, featuring Desmond Barrit.

The South African township musical Kat Under Kings, written by David Kramer and Taliep Pietersen, which ran at the Tricycle Theatre in October is looking to come in to the West End in March.

Although his company's future is uncertain following eviction from the Old Vic, Peter Hall is to direct a production of Tenessee Williams Cat On A Hot Tin Roof with Jennifer Ehle, following the success of A Streetcar Named Desire. His production of Simon Gray's new play Just The Three Of Us which has been touring may also come in.

There is to be a revival of Move Over Mrs Markham the comedy by Ray Cooney and John Chapman, produced by Bill Kenwright, starting at Theatre Royal Windsor.

The adaptation of Paul Scott's Booker Prize winning novel Staying On, which toured last summer with Richard Johnson and Prunella Scales, may finally arrive in the West End in the spring.

Gary Oldman is talking to the Royal Court Theatre about making his stage directing debut. He hopes the project will star Ray Winstone and Kathy Burke, to repeat the success he enjoyed with the film Nil By Mouth.

Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show is looking to return to the West End as part of a silver jubilee tour. Not so much a revival as a continuation, since it seems to have been touring almost non stop for the whole 25 years.

Amadeus, Peter Shaffer's play about the relationship between Mozart and Salieri, will tour in the summer and come to the West End in the autumn. This production will be directed by the all directing, all translating, all composing Jeremy Sams.

Not to be outdone, Peter's brother Anthony Shaffer's classic thriller Sleuth may be returning to the West End, with Stacy Keach. Anthony has also written a new thriller The Thing In The Wheelchair (something to offend a lobby group there) which he hopes will be produced during the year. Film director Nicholas Roeg may direct.

The 1938 Cole Porter musical You Never Know will be revived by Paul Lazarus(!) in the early spring. Music and lyrics are by Porter with book by Rowland Leigh, based on his play By Candlelight.

The already much postponed play by Steve Martin, Picasso At The Lapin Agile, will arrive in the spring, directed by Martin Clunes and produced by the Theatre Of Comedy.

The good arts news: Lord Gowrie's parting gesture at the Arts Council is to test the legality of the Department of Culture's action in siphoning off Lottery funds for a sixth good cause (social and education). At last the arts fight back! But the bad news: Granada chairman Gerry Robinson, once famously described by John Cleese as "a jumped up caterer", has been approached by Chris (Jonah) Smith to be the next Arts Council Chairman. Now the arts despairs.

And Finally probably the only thing in this list we can actually be certain of, the Society Of London Theatre is moving, and from 6th January can be found at: 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET. Tel 0171 557 6700 Fax 0171 557 6799.