News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st March 2002

Completely contradicting last week's rumour, Madonna will make her West End stage debut in Australian David Williamson's comedy Up For Grabs at Wyndham's Theatre on 23rd May. The satire on the art world, which was a big hit in Sydney last year, will be directed by Laurence Boswell, and is scheduled for a ten week run.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has found the West End home it has been seeking at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Its Stratford spring season, comprising Stuart Wilson and Sinead Cusack in Antony And Cleopatra, directed by Michael Attenborough, and Harriet Walter and Nicholas Le Prevost in Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Gregory Doran, will play in repertoire for an eight week season from 22nd July. It is curious that at the same time as wanting to knock down its Stratford base, and play in more intimate spaces, the RSC should choose one of London's most historic and traditional three level theatres. Prior to the RSC season, and in addition to the already scheduled productions of Lady Winderemere's Fan and Rose Rage, American comedienne Joan Rivers will play twice nightly at the Haymarket on three Sundays from 14th April, supported by Kit And The Widow.

Along with everything else, Mel Brooks The Producers has won Best Musical Show Album and Best Long Form Music Video (featuring more than one song) at the 44th Grammy Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles.

This year's 70th anniversary season at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park has been announced. It opens on 5th June with Romeo And Juliet directed by Dominic Hill, joined on 10th June by As You Like It, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh. This year's musical is Oh! What A Lovely War, Joan Littlewood's documentary about the First World War, directed by Ian Talbot and choreographed by Gillian Gregory, playing from 25th July. In addition there will be a daytime children's promenade production of Stuart Paterson's Merlin The Magnificent, based on the legend of King Arthur, directed by Tony Graham, presented jointly with the Unicorn Theatre, running from 31st August.

Peter Pan: A Musical Adventure, with book by Willis Hall, music by George Stiles, and lyrics by Anthony Drewe, will be this year's Christmas production at the Royal Festival Hall, running from 19th December to 11th January. The show, which has already been seen in productions all over the world, received its British premiere in a concert version at the RFH last May.

The Roundabout Theatre Company - New York's equivalent of the Almeida Theatre - is continuing to expand, having moved into the splendidly restored Selwyn Theatre (sadly renamed the American Airlines Theatre) in 2000. It has already taken a lease on the American Place Theatre on W 46th Street, containing three playing spaces, which it will refurbish and reopen as the Laura Pels Theatre next spring. This will house its Off Broadway work, currently being staged at the Gramercy Theatre on E 23rd Street. Now it is to buy the famous 70s disco Studio 54, which has housed its biggest ever hit, Sam Mendes Donmar Warehouse production of Cabaret, since 1998, for $25m. Further information can be found on the Roundabout Theatre Company web site via the link from the International venues section of TheatreNet.

Northern Ballet Theatre's next production will be the UK premiere of I Got Rhythm, a music and dance extravaganza featuring songs by George and Ira Gershwin, with guest singers and the orchestra on stage, previously created by artistic director David Nixon and reworked for the company. It opens a national tour on 29th May at the Lyceum Theatre Sheffield. This will be followed by an adaptation of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, which will receive its world premiere at the Alhambra Theatre Bradford on 24th September, at the start of the company's autumn tour.

Jez Butterworth, feted for his first play Mojo in 1995, has a new play The Night Heron, which will receive its premiere at the Royal Court Theatreon 17th April. The setting is an isolated birdwatchers cabin in a remote part of East Anglia, where the twitchers are oblivious to the hidden dangers of the Fens. It stars Ray Winstone, Jessica Stevenson, Roger Morlidge and Paul Ritter, and is directed by Ian Rickson.

On The Casting Couch: Ronald Pickup, Richard Coyle and Sara Stewart join Gwyneth Paltrow in Proof at the Donmar Warehouse from 15th May.

Ralph Fiennes is to play psychotherapist Carl Jung in The Talking Cure, a new play by Christopher Hampton, directed by Howard Davies, at the National Theatre in December. It centres on how Jung used methods learned from 'rival theorist' Sigmund Freud to help a patient.The next arena opera at the Royal Albert Hall from the Raymond Gubbay stable will be new productions of opera's best known double header Cav & Pag - Mascagini's Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncacallo's Pagliacci, running from 26th September to 5th October. The heated atmosphere of Southern Italy and Sicily provide the settings for the customary combinations of love, jealousy and death, realised by a new creative team of director Martin Duncan, designer Alison Chitty, and musical director Brad Cohen. The casts will include Mary Hegartry, Anne-Marie Owens, Phillip Joll, John Hudson and Ian Paton, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.