News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st July 2005

Sadler's Wells' autumn season includes visits by William Forsythe's new ensemble The Forsythe Company, Siobhan Davies Dance Company and Mark Morris Dance Group with mixed bills, Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant performing two world premiere works, Lyons Opera Ballet with Philippe Decoufle's latest ballet Tricodex, Paris Opera Ballet performing Angelin Preljocaj's Le Parc, Birmingham Royal Ballet with David Bintley's Hobson's Choice and a mixed bill, Opera North performing Kurt Weil's One Touch Of Venus, Rambert Dance Company with a Christopher Bruce world premiere, and as previously mentioned, Matthew Bourne's Edward Scissorhands.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Blue Man Group, the silent blue skinned bald headed performance trio, will open at the New London Theatre on 14th November. Their idiosyncratic multi media shows, combining theatre, percussive music, art, science and vaudeville, have played Off Broadway since 1991, and (with the help of other trios) subsequently in Las Vegas, Chicago and Boston.

Theatre Set-Up, the company that takes Shakespeare outdoors to historic settings across the country, is this year performing Love's Labours Lost in Elizabethan costumes costumes, accompanied by dulcet lute music, with a company of eight. Now in its 29th season, Theatre Set-Up works in association with English Heritage, The National Trust, and public and private stately homes, gardens and castles, performing mostly one night stands until 21st August. The diverse venues include Alnwick Castle, Chatley Heath Semaphore Tower, Pump Room Bath and The Lost Gardens Of Helligan. Further information can be found on the TSU web site via the link from the Theatre Companies section of TheatreNet.

Al Hirschfeld, America's foremost illustrator, who from the 1920s to his death aged 99 in 2003, created witty and stylish celebrity caricatures that appeared in the New York Times, many originals of which adorn the walls of Sardi's, the legendary Broadway restaurant, is currently featured in two exhibitions. Hirschfeld developed and perfected a signature style when he worked for the publicity and art departments of numerous American movie studios. Hirschfeld's Hollywood: The Film Art Of Al Hirschfeld at the National Theatre until 13th August examines these Hollywood years, comprising over 50 drawings, paintings, posters and movie ephemera, with a special emphasis on Hirschfeld's unique interpretation of British performers and film makers. Meanwhile, Hirschfeld's Brits On Broadway, at the Theatre Museum until 30th October, charts British theatre's impact on the American stage, providing an insight into ranges of styles of Shakespearean productions from the 20s with Mary Ellis, to Flora Robson and Michael Redgrave in the 40s, and Vanessa Redgrave in the 90s. It comprises over 40 drawings and prints, plus over 80 full page reproductions of New York Times drama pages.

William Gaskill will direct Carver, his own adaptation of five stories by Raymond Carver - What's In Alaska?, Fat, Cathedral, Intimacy and Put Yourself In My Shoes - playing at the Arcola Theatre from 8th July to 6th August. The company comprises Paul Albertson, Bruce Alexander, Annika Boras, Andrew Buckley, Mark Carroll, Mel Cook, Kelli Kerslake, Jack Klaff, Rosemary McHale and Kathryn Pogson. A poet and short story writer, Carver has been hailed by some as 'the American Chekhov'. The London premiere of Moira Buffini's Silence, the story of a French Princess exiled in England during the Dark Ages, directed by Gemma Fairlie, will follow at the Arcola from 9th to 27th August.

The Barbican is once again presenting Mostly Mozart, four weekends of concerts and events featuring the world's favourite composer, from 8th to 30th July. Highlights include: performances by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Academy of Ancient Music and The Sixteen; the Garsington Opera production of The Marriage Of Figaro; A-Z Of Mozart by the Classical Opera Company; and Jennifer Pike joining forces with Malin Broman in Bach's Concerto for Two Violins; plus free foyer music, talks and family events. Further information can be found on the Barbican web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Janet McTeer and Harriett Walter will joined by David Burke, Tam Dean Burn, James Fleet, Stephen Fletcher, Guy Henry, David Horovitch, Barbara Jefford, Rory Kinnear and Rufus Wright in Schiller's Mary Stuart, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 20th July; and Joe, Stephen and Mark McGann, Louise Jameson, Hannah Waterman and Mark Wingett will star in Ray and Michael Cooney's Tom, Dick And Harry, opening at the Duke of York's Theatre on 23rd August.

Helen Anker, Billy Boyle, Kathryn Evans, Tim Flavin Tiffany Graves and Jimmy Johnson star in Dames At Sea, directed and choreographed by Flavin, opening at the Devonshire Park Theatre in Eastbourne on 12th August. The quintessential Off Broadway 1940s backstage musical comedy spoof, with book and lyrics by George Haimson and Robin Miller, and music by Jim Wise is looking for West End transfer.

The London Bubble is performing The Crock Of Gold adapted by Simon Startin from the novel by James Stephens, directed by Jonathan Petherbridge, as an outdoor promenade production in parks, woods and open spaces around London until 14th August. It is the tale of a journey through a forest, with a wise philosopher, the Great God Pan, and leprechauns, desperate for the return of their gold. The locations are the previous haunts of Sydenham Wells Park, Raphael Park Gidea Park, Waterlow Park Highgate, Oxleas Woods Shooters Hill, Gunnersbury Park Chiswick, Manor Farm Park Ruislip, Valentines Park Ilford and Southwark Park Bermondsey. The shows will be accompanied by afternoon workshops for children. Further information can be found on the London Bubble web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Society of London Theatre has published the Box Office Data Report 2004, providing detailed analysis of attendance figures and box office returns in the West End, which includes the major commercial and grant-aided theatres. At 12,016,233 overall attendances in 2004 were the second highest on record, a rise of 3.7% from 2003. The number of performances was the highest ever at 17, 235, up 3.4% on the previous year. As well as exploring the attendance statistics as a whole, the report also analyses the differences in number of performances, attendance and receipts between the subsidised and commercial sectors, and discusses audience trends in relation to category of production. The Box Office Data Report is essential reading for theatre investors, producers, and theatre marketers, as well as those in academic and government sectors dealing with the performing arts. Further information can be found on the SOLT web site via the link opposite.