News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st May 2009

The Society Of London Theatre has launched a new Senior Savers initiative, with spring offers for not so spring chickens. Anyone over 60 will be able to buy best seats for half price, in advance, with no booking or postage fees, for over 15 plays, musicals and opera, for performances between 1st May and 12th June. Further information can be found on the SOLT web site, via the link opposite below.

The 62nd Aldburgh Festival will run from 12th to 28th June. Among the highlights will be the world premieres of The Corridor, music by Harrison Birtwistle, libretto by David Harstnet, freeze framing the moment when Orpheus turns to look back at Eurydice as they leave the underworld and he loses her forever, with Elizabeth Atherton and Mark Padmore, directed by Peter Gill; and Elliott Carter's 'On Conversing With Paradise'; Thomas Ades's 'Lieux Retrouves'; and works by Chris Mayo and Helen Grime; the British premieres of Julian Anderson's 'Fantasias' and George Benjamin's 'Duet for piano and orchestra'; plus a promenade event through the new performance spaces at Snape, culminating in 'Harrison's Clock', Birtwistle's piano piece invoking John Harrison's 18th century timepieces. As well as performances, there will be films, workshops, lectures, masterclasses, walks and other outdoor events. Further information can be found on the Aldburgh web site, via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Arts Council England has launched Sustain, a new 40m fund to which cultural organisations will be able to apply for support if they are struggling financially because of the recession. Grants from 75,000 to 3m will be awarded, and the programme will run initially for two years - 2009/10 and 2010/11. The new funds have been made available by the Council significantly reducing its Lottery cash balances, which have traditionally been kept in reserve in case large projects need unexpected injections of cash. The initiative has been designed as a 'rapid response' fund, and it will aim to turn applications round in a maximum of 6 weeks. In addition, 2m of extra money will be injected into the Grants for the Arts Budget in each of the next 2 years. ACE has called for both public and private funders to maintain their levels of investment in the arts, and for artists to see themselves not as victims of the recession but as a key part of its solution.

On The Casting Couch: Helen Baxendale, Emma Cunniffe, James Dreyfus, Aden Gillett and Vicki Pepperdine will feature in the premiere of Amongst Friends, opening at Hampstead Theatre on 26th May.

Paul Wheeler's new thriller, Deceptions, in which a psychiatrist's sessions with a patient become an intense battle of wills, with Michelle Collins and Rupert Hill, directed by Joe Harmston, will open a national tour at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester on 10th June. It is a co-production with Ian Fricker.

The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, which owns and manages the rights to the songs and musicals of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, has been acquired by Imagem Music Group, the music publishing investment fund of ABP, the Netherlands based pension fund, and CP Masters BV, a European independent music publisher. The purchase price has not been disclosed but is believed to be in the region of $200m. RHO, as a licensing agency, represents more than 12,000 songs, 900 concert works, 200 writers and 100 musicals, including works by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sheldon Harnick, Stephen Schwartz, Adam Guettel, Irving Berlin and Rodgers and Hart. In the last few years Imagem Music Group has acquired various music pop catalogues from Universal Music Group, such as Zomba UK, Rondor UK, 19 Music and the greater part of the BBC Music catalogue, as well as Boosey & Hawkes, the leading British classical music publisher.

This year's season at Garsington Opera, near Oxford, one of the 'alternative Glyndebournes', running from 3rd June to 5th July, continues the policy of combining favourite operas with discoveries of little known works. It comprises Beethoven's Fidelio, directed by John Cox; Rossini's La cenerentola, directed by Daniel Slater; and the British premiere of Martinu's Mirandolina, adapted from a Goldoni comedy about a servant's attempts to outwit three more eligible suitors for the hand of a lady, directed by Martin Duncan. Further information can be found on the GO web site via the link from Dance & Opera in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Pleasures Of London by Felix Barker and Peter Jackson, recently published by the London Topographical Society, is an all embracing survey of the pleasures that London has offered its people from the middle ages to the swinging 60s. It covers pageants, tournaments, masques, frost fairs, fairgrounds, bear pits, theatres, music halls, circuses, pleasure gardens, regattas, boxing matches, ballet, opera, concerts, panoramas, cosmoramas, exhibitions, billiard rooms, freak shows, football, cricket, croquet, zoological gardens, ice rinks, ballroom dancing, cinema - and more! To say it is lavishly illustrated would be an understatement, with over 700 images, many never before published. For anyone interested in any facet of London entertainment this book is a must.

The Watermill Theatre in Newbury will stage the musical Spend Spend Spend, book and lyrics by Steve Brown and Justin Greene, music by Steve Brown, from the book by Viv Nicholson and Stephen Smith, directed by Craig Revel Horwood (who choreographed the original West End production), from the 9th July. It tells the rags to riches to rags again story of Viv Nicholson, who, when she became the biggest pools winner ever known in 1962, coined the title phrase, and blew the money in a couple of years. This will be followed by the return of the 2006 production of Hot Mikado, the 1940s jazz and swing version of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, music adapted and arranged by Rob Bowman, book and lyrics adapted by David H Bell, also directed by Craig Revel Horwood, from 3rd September.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Menier Chocolate Factory production of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music, directed by Trevor Nunn, will transfer to Broadway in December, but it is unlikely that the current West End cast will go with it; and that a stage version of Breakfast At Tiffany's, adapted by Samuel Adamson directly from Truman Capote's book, rather than the film, directed by Sean Mathias, may be the next production in the Theatre Royal Haymarket season. The Rumour Machine grinds on.