News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st August 2003

An all star charity gala in aid of The Prince's Trust will be held on 1st September at Shakespeare's Globe, in the presence of The Prince of Wales. The evening will comprise scenes from Shakespeare interspersed with music from the English Chamber Orchestra, followed by an Elizabethan banquet. Among those scheduled to take part so far are: Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes in Romeo And Juliet, Paul Scofield and Timothy West in The Tempest, Sanjeev Bhaskar in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Diana Rigg in As You Like It, plus Desmond Barrit, Julian Glover, Jane Lapotaire, Helen Lederer and Michael Pennington.

Highlights of the Barbican's BITE:03 season for the autumn include Robert Lepage in his mesmerising The Far Side Of The Moon, in which a washing machine becomes a space craft (amongst other things); from Brazil, the Debora Colker Dance Company with 4X4 and Rota; Robyn Orlin, in her new piece We Must Eat Our Suckers With The Wrappers On, a multimedia experience about the AIDS crisis in South Africa; Theaterhaus Stutgart's The Maids, Jean Genet's play given a radical dance makeover using Middle Eastern, African and Brazilian rhythms and a Carnival staging; Ridiculusmus with the premiere of Ideas Men, illustrating the desperate lengths to which 'creatives' go in trying to come up with 'the next big thing'; and William Yang's Shadows, a multimedia account of Australian Aboriginals and migrant Germans in South Australia.

As with Broadway, London theatre managed to shake off the after effects of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and events of 11th September 2001, as both the attendances and grosses for 2002 were the highest ever. According to the report of the Society Of London Theatre, paid admissions topped 12m overall, with over 10m in the West End, while total box office receipts topped £300,000. A major contribution to these figures was the successful opening of the musicals Bombay Dreams, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and We Will Rock You in three of London's biggest theatres. A total of 266 shows were presented in commercial and subsidised venues during 2002. The theatre is responsible for a contribution of over £1bn to London's economy each year.

Tate And Egg Live, the series of specially commissioned events running at Tate Britain with the aim of uniting visual arts with theatre, music, film and dance, continues until September. In The Dance Machine, choreographer Jasmin Vardimon will animate Guy Bar Amotz's sculptural installations which play music. Using electronic sensors the pieces, called soundsystems, will translate movement into sound and music. Members of the audience will be invited to interact with the machines after the performance. Film With Music, Words & Singing is the world premiere of a specially commissioned film by Wolfgang Tillmans, with spoken word and modern vocal music, in an event that explores performance art, utopia and spirituality, to accompany the current exhibition of his photographs, If One Thing Matters, Everything Matters. Further information can be found on the Tate And Egg web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

There is a new 'thriller-farce-satire-jazz-pop' musical named after the first qualification of any theatre producer or investor: Money To Burn. Written and directed by Daniel Abineri, it will receive its premiere at The Venue, beneath Notre Dame Church off Leicester Square, on 9th October. It is the story of an aristocrat who decides to murder his wife when she refuses to fund his gambling habit any longer. The show will be choreographed by Michele Thorne, and produced by Siobham Hoolihan, Paul Savident and Parry.

Lincoln Center Theater in New York will be presenting two Shakespeare productions that include British participation this winter in the Vivian Beaumont auditorium. Henry IV will condense the existing two plays into one four hour epic, with Kevin Kline as Falstaff, Billy Crudup as Hal, British actor Richard Easton as Henry and Ethan Hawke as Hotspur, directed by Jack O'Brien, opening on 20th November. Christopher Plummer will star as King Lear in a revival of the 2002 Stratford Ontario production, directed by Jonathan Miller, with James Blendick, Domini Blythe, Benedict Campbell, Brent Carver, Ian Deakin, Claire Jullien, Barry MacGregor, Lucy Peacock, Stephen Russell and Brian Tree, opening on 4th March.

The Redgraves: A Family On The Public Stage is the latest exhibition at the Theatre Museum. It presents a picture of a unique theatrical family spanning six generations, from great grandfather Cornelius, a ticket salesman in Drury Lane, and father Roy, a barnstorming actor, through Michael and Rachel Kempson, to Vanessa, Corin and Lynn, and their children Natasha and Joley Richardson, and Jemma. Thanks to the acquisition of Michael Redgrave's archive, the exhibition is a treasure trove, with personal memorabilia, posters, programmes, photographs, financial records, diaries, contracts and letters. In addition there are videos of stage performances, and television and film clips running continuously. The family story not only reflects their theatre and other performances, but also throws light on the social and political history of their times, in which they were all involved.

Greenwich Theatre's autumn season is a hit and run affair with short visits by a diverse range of shows, including: magician Geoffrey Durham presenting his new show Little Miracles; Tracie Bennett, Stefan Bednarczyk and Dan Ryner in Last Song Of The Nightingale, a new musical by Peter Quilter, the story of the final tour of a fading singing star in the 1960s; the Oxford Stage Company production of John Arden's Sergeant Musgrave's Dance, an anti war play set in the Victorian era, directed by Sean Holmes; the Opera della Luna production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, featuring the Opera Babes; Ed Byrne, James Ellis and Michael Smiley in Kings Of The Road, Brian McAvera's black comedy of three generations 'on the buses' in Belfast; Ron Cephas Jones and Finbar Lynch in Othello, directed by Rupert Goold; Greig Coetzee's satire on the new South Africa, Happy Natives; and the London Bubble Theatre Company's Mother Goose And The…Wolf! >, a new slant on pantomime, with beanstalks, golden eggs, forests and wolves. Further information can be found on the Greenwich Theatre web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Maury Yeston's previously mentioned revised version of Frank Loesser's musical Hans Christian Andersen will come to London next year, along with the Loesser and Abe Burrows musical Guys And Dolls, both produced by the Ambassador Theatre Group: that Neil Kinnock may become the next chairman of the National Theatre (presumably quashing any chance of a revival of David Hare's play The Absence Of War, staged at the National in 1993, about an unsuccessful Labour leader, based on Hare's research with Kinnock's campaign); and that Sam Mendes wants to direct a film of Stephen Sondheim's musical Sweeney Todd. The Rumour Machine grinds on.