News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st June 2001

Clive Owen and Prunella Scales are to star Peter Nichols A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg, directed by Laurence Boswell, opening at the New Ambassadors Theatre on 1st October. The play centres on how a couple deal with their severely mentally handicapped child by inventing conversations and personality traits. Owen was previously in a production at the King's Head.

Sam Shepard's A Lie Of The Mind, which plays at the Donmar Warehouse from 4th July to 1st September, will feature Keith Bartlett, Anna Calder-Marshall, Sinead Cusack, Catherine McCormack, Peter McDonald, Emma Rydal, Andy Serkis and Andrew Tiernan. Wilson Milam will direct the examination of how a heritage of disappointments and desertion reverberates through successive generations of a family. This will be followed by Divas At Donmar, with Clive Rowe, Sian Phillips and Michael Ball each appearing for a week, and then Lillian Hellman's Little Foxes, which will run from 4th October to 24th November.

Judi Dench is to star in Edna Ferber and George Kaufman's The Royal Family, directed by Peter Hall, opening at the Haymarket Theatre on 1st November. The comedy drama presents a picture of a theatrical family headed by Dame Dench.

Goldsmiths College is holding a free combined open day and arts festival on 23rd June from 10.00am to 4.00pm. The Open Day will include informal talks with tutors, sessions for prospective research students, exhibitions, performances and campus tours, providing information about undergraduate, postgraduate, adult education and short course study opportunities, across music, drama and dance. The Festival Of Arts and Innovation is a celebration of the creative and performing arts, involving the college and other local groups and organisations, plus a programme of children's activities. Further details can be found on the Goldsmiths web site via the link from the Training section of TheatreNet.

Nicholas Hytner is returning to directing musical theatre with Sweet Smell Of Success, a show based on the 1957 film, which starts a pre Broadway journey in Chicago in December, starring John Lithgow. The story centres on the sparky relationship between a New York gossip columnist and a dubious press agent. The book is by John Guare, music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Craig Carnelia.

Antony Sher is to portray the composer Gustav Mahler in Ronald Harwood's new play Mahler, which also features Nickolas Grace and Gary Waldhorn, and will be directed by Gregory Doran. The play explores Mahler's marriage and his enforced conversion to Catholicism. It opens at the Yvonne Arnaud Guildford in September and is looking for a West End home. The producer is ACT Productions.

The archive of John Gielgud's letters and papers, chronicling his personal and professional life, has been bequeathed to the nation and will go on display at the British Library. The extensive collection includes photographs, programmes, annotated scripts and family scrapbooks covering a career that spanned eighty years, and was one of the most distinguished of the last century.

Penelope Keith will star in Noel Coward's Star Quality, directed by Christopher Luscombe, opening at Theatre Royal Windsor on 7th August with a West End transfer in mind. The piece was originally written as a novella and adapted for the stage in 1967.

New York City Ballet has jumped on the fitness bandwagon with an exercise video that aims to put ballet alongside aerobics, yoga and pilates. It contains a series of fifty stretches and exercises based on those used in daily class by dancers, but simplified to accommodate varying levels of fitness. Having conquered America the video is now available in Britain, and some London health clubs are starting ballet fitness classes this summer, following training from New York City Ballet.

The City Of London Festival, running from 26th June to 12th July, includes the usual mixture of lunchtime events, an early evening Rush Hour series, and evening concerts, with every kind of music included. The theme of the free Packed Lunches programme of concerts, talks and performances is bringing culture from around the world to the City. Rush Hour concerts are devoted to the string quartets of Franz Schubert and Benjamin Britten. Evening concert performers range from major orchestras through to the London Community Gospel Choir and the Jiving Lindy Hoppers. An accompanying programme of walks, visits and exhibitions reveals hidden treasures of the City. Full details can be found on the City of London Festival web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The theatre has lost one of the most influential technicians in its history with the death of Frederick Bentham As head of research and development during a 42 year career with Strand Electric, he created the greater proportion of lighting instruments in use from the 1950s, and invented the Light Console which revolutionised lighting control. His innovation was to provide the ability to "play" light by designing a device, based on an organ console, which enabled one person to manipulate hundreds of lights. It gave him the ability to perform Colour Music - the playing of light in space to accompany and express music. Fred's other major contribution was in teaching, through demonstrations, lectures and editing the magazine TABS from 1957 to 1973. As a result he became mentor to a generation of lighting designers. Fred was instrumental in setting up the Association of British Theatre Technicians in 1961 with the aim of stimulating the interchange of ideas about theatre design, architecture and technology. He edited its magazine Sightlines from 1974 to 1983, and as a consultant continued to influence theatre design. Fred was a man of ascerbic wit and insight who truly was a legend.

The Rumour Machine says: that despite a recent survey of theatregoers which revealed that 75 per cent of the people polled were opposed to television soap stars and presenters being cast in West End shows, Gail Porter may follow Denise Van Outen in Chicago; and that the Royal Shakespeare Company's next Christmas extravaganza will be Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland adapted by Adrian Mitchell (not the version which was scheduled for the National Theatre last Christmas) directed by Rachel Kavanaugh. The Rumour Machine grinds on.