News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st June 2012

New productions at the National Theatre this autumn will include in the Olivier: Tirso de Molina's Damned By Despair, in a new version by Frank McGuinness, an adventure story embracing bandits and beautiful women between glimpses of heaven and hell, with Bertie Carvel, Sebastian Armesto, Rory Keenan and Amanda Lawrence, directed by Bijan Sheibani; in the Lyttelton: Howard Barker's Scenes From An Exhibition, set in 16th century Venice where an artist commissioned to paint a canvas celebrating the Battle of Lepanto creates a scene of war-torn carnage, with Fiona Shaw, directed by Tom Cairns; and in the Cottesloe: James Graham's This House, a behind the scenes drama in the Houses of Parliament when the government faces a crisis but has no majority, with Philip Glenister, Phil Daniels and Julian Wadham, directed by Jeremy Herrin.

With 42,096 performances, of 2,695 shows (814 of which will be free), and 1,418 will be premieres, from 47 countries, in 279 venues, involving 22,457 performers, the 65th Edinburgh Festival Fringe, running from 3rd to 27th August, is once again bigger than ever, retaining its position as the world's largest arts festival. In fact, the number of shows has actually more than doubled since the year 2000. Some of the wackier events will include Bullet Catch, where a member of the audience will be asked to fire a gun that shoots a bullet that artist Rob Drummond will catch in his teeth; One Minute Birdwatching, involving speed-dating with birds and binoculars in Princes Street Gardens; and PEEP, taking place in a purpose built peep show hut in a car park. Comedy makes up 36% of the programme, Theatre 28%, Music 13%, Musicals & Opera, Dance & Physical Theatre, Events, Children's shows and Cabaret 4% each, Exhibitions 2%, and a new category of Spoken Word 1%. Further information and online booking can be found on the Edinburgh Fringe web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The touring production of Spamalot, Eric Idle's adaptation of the film Monty Python And The Holy Grail, music by John Du Prez, with Marcus Brigstocke (alternating with Jon Culshaw), Bonnie Langford and Todd Carty, directed by Christopher Luscombe, with choreography by Jenny Arnold, will open at the Harold Pinter Theatre on 31st July, playing until 9th September.

New York TheatreNet: The musical Annie, book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, based on the comic strip character Little Orphan Annie, created by Harold Gray, set in Depression era New York, with Lilla Crawford in the title role and Katie Finneran as Miss Hannigan, directed by James Lapine, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, will open at the Palace Theatre on November 8th. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

Samuel Beckett's All That Fall, originally written for radio, charting the journey of an old woman to meet her blind husband and guide him home, telling the story of the people she meets along the way, with Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon, directed by Trevor Nunn, will open at the Jermyn Street Theatre, off Piccadilly, on 11th October.

West End Live, the free annual event showcasing West End entertainment will return to Trafalgar Square on Saturday 23rd June from 11am until 6pm, and Sunday 24th June from midday until 6pm. Cast members from every West End musical will be among those performing on the central stage, plus a host of other entertainers, exhibits and activities taking place in marquees around the square. Last year the event attracted over half a million visitors. Further information can be found on the WEL web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Soul Sister, the biomusical about Tina Turner, with songs from her back catalogue, with Emi Wokoma, Chris Tummings, Sharon Benson, Nadine Higgin, Ngo Ngofa and Joanne Sandi, directed by Pete Brooks and Bob Eaton, with choreography by Jason Pennycooke, which recently played at the Hackney Empire, will transfer to the Savoy Theatre, opening on 23rd August and playing until 29th September. The producers are Bill Kenwright and John Miller.

The musical comedy Curtains, the final collaboration of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, with book (adapted from the original idea by Peter Stone) and additional lyrics by Rupert Holmes, directed by Robert McWhir, with choreography by Robbie O'Reilly, will receive its European premiere at the Landor Theatre in Clapham, from 25th July. It is a backstage murder mystery, set in Boston in 1959 during the pre-Broadway tryout of a new musical, where the leading lady is murdered on opening night, and the entire company, including the creative team and producer are possible suspects, as an amateur dramatics enthusiast detective (who happened to be in the audience) finds himself just as drawn toward making the show a hit, as he is in solving the murder.

Heartbreak Productions is presenting its 21st season of classic plays performed outdoors in historic settings across the country, with Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Maddy Kerr; Noel Coward's Private Lives, about a divorced couple who, finding themselves honeymooning with new partners in adjoining suites in the south of France, also find that their relationship is actually not over, directed by Peter Mimmack; and E Nesbitt's The Railway Children, the story of three London children who move to a cottage in rural Yorkshire, where they befriend the local railway porter and embark on a journey of discovery and adventure, directed by Peter Mimmack. Heartbreak Productions works in association with English Heritage, The National Trust, and public and private stately homes, gardens and castles, performing mostly one night stands, until 2nd September. Further information can be found on the HP web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that the musical Viva Forever, featuring the hits of the Spice Girls, book by Jennifer Saunders, directed by Paul Garrington, with choreography by Lynne Page, will open at the Piccadilly Theatre in December, produced by Judy Cramer; that Julian Fellowes may write the book for a stage musical adaptation of Slumdog Millionaire, possibly directed by Matthew Warchus; and that there are already plans for the yet to open Chichester Festival Theatre production of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, with Hannah Waddingham, Alex Bourne, Adam Garcia, Clive Rowe and David Burt, directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Stephen Mear, to transfer to the West End. The Rumour Machine grinds on.