News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st October 1999

The British premiere of Donald Marguilies Off Broadway success Collected Stories will be at the Haymarket Theatre on 15th November. Helen Mirren and Anne-Marie Duff star in the story of a novelist who finds that her protegee is willing to abuse their relationship in her search for literary success. Howard Davies directs for Triumph Proscenium Productions.

Music promoter Harvey Goldsmith is facing a financial crisis, as two of his three companies have been put into receivership, following losses of 1m on the disastrous Total Eclipse Festival in Cornwall. Goldsmith became the biggest name in pop tour promotion in the rock heyday of the '60's and 70's, but in recent years, as bands have taken control themselves, profits have dried up. Diversification into opera, dance spectaculars and film has not produced much revenue. Goldsmith is co-producer with Jean Butler and Colin Deane of Dancing On Dangerous Ground, opening at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 30th November.

The Almeida Theatre will feature two world premieres in its winter season. Edna O'Brien's Our Father, about a family reunion in 70's Ireland, opens in November, and Harold Pinter's Celebration, directed by the author, follows in March. The British premiere of Arthur Miller's Mr Peters' Connection, set in an abandoned nightclub, will be in July. David Hare is to launch a new one man show Acting Up, based on his diary about performing on Broadway in Via Dolorosa, his one man show based on his diary about visiting Israel. Is there a trend developing here?

The previously reported concerns about the takeover of British ticketing company Dataculture, by the American Ticket.com, seem to be proving justified. Contracts such as that with the Royal Court Theatre, signed only hours before the takeover, have been subject to forced renegotiation. Tickets.com is insisting that all sales must go through its web site, incurring an 11% "convenience" fee, rather than allowing individual venues to sell direct from their own sites, thus avoiding the charge. The ability to develop their own direct sales was a major factor in the Royal Court's decision to sign with Dataculture.

The musical based on Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The D'Urbevilles, with lyrics by Justin Fleming and music by Stephen Edwards, opens at the Savoy Theatre on 10th November. The dour Victorian rural romance features Poppy Tiernay, Phillipa Healy, Alasdair Harvey, Jonathan Monks and Paul Shane. It is directed by Karen Louise Hebden, and the producers are the JFK Repertory Company, Sheffield Theatres and Durbeyfield.

A new play with music, Like Candyfloss, with book and lyrics by Sara Woods and music by Anders Sodergren, plays at the Bridewell Theatre from 30th November to 19th December. Set in the Submarine Bar, at the end of the pier, at the end of the season, it promises dreams, fantasy, and an epic love story (not to mention paper-tearing, belly-dancing, songs and stand-up). It is produced by Jade.

It is now possible to catch a sneak preview of the "people's" Royal Opera House Covent Garden. The new foyer, located in the refurbished Floral Hall, accessible from both the Piazza and Bow Street, is open for advance bookings for the reopening season until 17th February. Public performances start on 6th December, when the full foyer facilities of coffee shop, restaurant and bookshop will be open all day. From the New Year there will be free lunchtime recitals in the new studio theatre, and backstage tours, which will include the Royal Ballet dancers at class, but not Royal Opera singers doing scales.

This week sees the start of From Time To Time, a season of events featuring the work of Kurt Weill at the South Bank Centre, to be staged during October and March. A diverse programme of cabaret, concert, performance, films and talks covers the major works from both halves of Weill's career - Berlin and Broadway. Performers include Kim Criswell, Wayne Marshall and Maria Friedman, with the London Sinfonietta, Matrix Ensemble and London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Writer Sheridan Morley seems to have caught the directing bug, and is now planning to stage Oscar Wilde, the production that made the name of his actor father, Robert. Featuring an all-male cast, it was the first play to be written about Wilde, and reflects what people thought about him in the '30's. Barry Cryer is to play journalist Frank Harris, and the search is on for a name for the title role. The show will undertake a regional tour next autumn, with a possible West End transfer. Calibre Productions, who are currently touring Morley's one man show My Life And Other Disasters, will produce.

The Bush Theatre will present Resident Alien, a one man play by Tim Fountain, based on the life and writings of Quentin Crisp, from 10th November to 11th December. Bette Bourne stars as the 91 year old Crisp reflecting on life, in the East Village apartment that has not been dusted for 18 years. Mike Bradwell directs.

The Rumour Machine says: that an announcement regarding the sale of Associated Capital Theatres, the "number 2" West End theatre chain, is imminent, as the remainder of the Chesterfield Properties entertainment businesses - formerly Mayfair and now Crescent - including the Curzon cinema chain, have been sold to Cleobury, a company of which Chesterfield chairman Roger Wingate is a director; and that a shortlist of bids for Stoll Moss Theatres is now being prepared from around 40 initial offers. The Rumour Machine grinds on.