News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st December 2000

Following its success winning Best Play award this week, it is confirmed that Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange will retain its original cast of Bill Nighy, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Andrew Lincoln when it transfers to the Duchess Theatre on 30th April.

The play is about medical ethics and racism in a mental hospital, when two doctors disagree about the treatment of a patient who claims to be the son of an exiled African dictator. Roger Michell directs and the producer is Michael Codron.

TEG Productions has three shows which will be mounted in regional theatres next year with the West End as their goal. Blood Money is a comedy thriller written by the Heather Brothers to be directed by Rob Bettinson. Flowering Cherry, the play which established Robert Bolt as a major writer, is a study of failure and self deception in the Chekhov mode. Significant Other is a new play by Rod Beacham, which will be directed by Elijah Moshinsky.

The James Menzies-Kitchin Memorial Trust is inviting applications for the 2001 Young Theatre Director's Award. The Trust was formed in 1996 with the aim of assisting young untried directors. A Bursary of 6000 is awarded together with a space at the Battersea Arts Centre to enable the recipient to direct a classic text of their choice for a three week run. Applicants must be theatre professionals under the age of 30 who have directed no more than two professional productions. The deadline for applications is 15th January. Further information can be found by calling 01608 662153 or on the JMK Trust web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

New Boy adapted by Russell Labey from William Sutcliffe's novel will receive its London premiere at the Pleasance London in February. Set in a school sixth form it is a rites of passage comedy which will star Neil Henry. Labey is also working on a stage adaptation of L P Hartley's The Go-Between.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Dept A reminder that December is the peak season for the purchase of Theatre Tokens. Available in units of 1, 5, 10 and 20, they can be exchanged for tickets at over 190 theatres nation-wide, including all West End venues. As they have no expiry date, the recipient can choose which show they want to see, and when and where they want to see it. Tokens can be bought direct from the Society Of London Theatre either via the 24/7 Tokenline on 020 7240 8800 or online from the SOLT web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet. Alternatively they are available from most theatres, major bookshops and ticket agencies.

A Broadway revival of Bells Are Ringing, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and music by Jule Styne, will open at the Plymouth Theatre on 12th April. It tells the story of a telephone answering service operator who gets involved in the lives of her clients (most particularly a playwright) although she's never actually met them. Faith Prince and Marc Kudisch will lead a company of 28. Comden and Green are working with director Tina Landau tweaking the script, but it is not expected to be changed radically or have new numbers interpolated, except possibly those added in the film. The production will have a contemporary feel, which emphasises the similarities between people hiding behind the anonymity of the telephone and internet, but will remain set in 1956. The producers are Mitchell Maxwell, Victoria Maxwell and Mark Balsam for Momentum Productions.

English National Opera will present the world premiere of its commission From Morning To Midnight, the first full scale opera by David Sawyer, directed by Richard Jones at the London Coliseum on 27th April. The text is based on Georg Kaiser's 1917 German morality play in which a bank clerk rejects materialism in favour of religious belief. The cast is led by John Daszak and Kathryn Harries, with Susan Bickley, Graham Danby, Linda Kitchen, Marl Le Brock, Gail Pearson and Robert Poulton. Martyn Brabbins will conduct.

Sheffield Crucible Theatre's Christmas show is Guys And Dolls, featuring Tracie Bennett, Ian Bartholomew, Claire Carrie and Harry Burton, playing from 12th December to 12th January. The show is based on characters from Damon Runyon's short stories about New York low-life, and centres on a group of small-time gamblers and their long suffering girlfriends. It has music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and book by Jo Swerlin and Abe Burrows. Rachel Kavanagh directs.

There are plans for a London Comedy Festival to be held in the week beginning 21st May. Maria Kempinska, co founder of Jongleurs comedy clubs, and Paul Pascoe, chief executive of the Unique Group, are working on what they hope will become an annual event. The aim is not just to present the world's leading comedians at venues across the capital, but to involve the community. There will be comedy workshops for performers and writers, open mic shows to discover new talent, competitions to find London's funniest cabbie, pub or borough, and the London Comedy Awards.

The London Bubble Theatre Company, which usually performs in parks during the summer, is coming indoors again for Christmas to present Sleeping Beauty at the Cochrane Theatre, from 12th December to 13th January. Writer and director Jonathan Petherbridge has given the traditional story a contemporary twist. The show will play extra daytime schools performances. Further details from the London Bubble web site via the link from the UK Theatre Companies section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine 2001 says: that plans are afoot among the various rights holder for a live show based on the Beatles Yellow Submarine animated film, probably staged in an arena; that John Lithgow will make his stage musical debut on Broadway in a show based on the film The Sweet Smell Of Success directed by Nicholas Hytner: and that Al Pacino may return to the West End stage in Eugene O'Neill's monologue Hughie. The Rumour Machine grinds on.