News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 1st December 2006

The Victoria and Albert Museum may yet be thwarted in its plan to close down the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden. Supporters of the Theatre Museum have joined together to launch Guardians of the Theatre Museum, chaired by Save London's Theatre Campaign and the Society for Theatre Research, to demand the withdrawal of the notice of closure, while it looks for alternative ways to manage the institution. Guardians include Alan Ayckbourn, Nica Burns, Simon Callow CBE, Judi Dench CH, DBE, Peter Hall, David Hare, Thelma Holt, Derek Jacobi, Eddie Kulukundis, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Joanna Lumley, Cameron Mackintosh, Lynn Redgrave, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Rix, Donald Sinden, Zoe Wanamaker and Timothy West. They already have support from various MPs and MEPs, who are challenging the government about why they are closing the museum despite strong protests from the industry. The Guardians are aiming to secure 100,000 signatures on a petition backing their campaign by Christmas. Supporters can sign the petition by visiting the Guardians web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Honours were pretty evenly spread in this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Tom Stoppard's Rock'n'Roll was the only show to take more than one award - Best Play and Best Actor: Rufus Sewell. Other highlights were Best Musical: Caroline, Or Change, Best Actress: Kathleen Turner - Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolf? and Best Director: Marianne Elliott - Pillars Of The Community. The full list of winners can be found on the This Is London web site via the link from Guides in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The winter season at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury includes Hans Andersen's The Snow Queen, in a new adaptation by Neil Duffield with a 'middle earth' slant, directed by Andy Brereton, currently playing; Ben Travers's classic farce Plunder, which centres on a society burglary, directed by Heather Davies, opening on 31st January; and W Somerset Maugham's For Services Rendered, an 'anti-comedy' examining provincial middle class English life in the depression after the First World War, directed by Edward Hall, opening on 7th March.

The Royal Opera House is presenting a 12 Days Of Christmas programme of free music and dance events between 2nd and 21st December. These include recitals and carols, live jazz, a Christmas tea dance, a Royal Opera Singalong, and Strauss's Die Fledermaus, plus interactive workshops and special sessions, including a glimpse into the world of dance characters. The mostly lunchtime events, featuring members of the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet companies plus special guests, will take place in the Clore Studio Upstairs, Crush Room, Linbury Studio Theatre and Floral Hall. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance. Further information can be found on the ROH web site, via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

New York TheatreNet: Vanessa Redgrave will perform Joan Didion's monologue The Year Of Magical Thinking, partly based on her book of the same name, about a series of tragedies in her life, including the death of her husband, and illness and death of her daughter, directed by David Hare, opening on at the Booth Theatre on 29th March.

The spring season at Sadler's Wells will include regular visitors with new works including English National Ballet, Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant, the Richard Alston Company, Sylvie Guillem and Akram Khan, Nederlands Dance Theatre 2, Rambert Dance Company, Phoenix Dance Company, Northern Ballet Theatre, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan and Paco Pena, plus Wim Vandekeybus and Ultima Vez with the retrospective Spiegel, the full American Ballet Theatre company in three programmes, Australian Dance Theatre with Garry Stewart's multimedia piece Held, Sasha Waltz's fusion of opera and dance in Purcell's Dido And Aeneas, Pegasus Opera Company with Delius's Koanga, about an African prince sold into slavery, Classical Opera Company with The Marriage Of Figaro, tap legend Savion Glover, Mahabharata, bringing together dance, visual magic and puppetry, directed by Stuart Wood, Philippe Decoufle's Sombrero, which plays with images of light and shadow, and as previously mentioned, Matthew Bourne's The Car Man.

The Christmas season at Northern Stage in Newcastle, comprises Antoine de Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince, the deceptively simple story of an aviator who crashes in a desert and is found by a little prince who tells him about a beautiful planet he once inhabited, in a new adaptation by Rick Cummins and John Scoullar, directed by Neil Murray; and Hans Andersen's Thumbelina, in a new adaptation by Susan Mulholland, directed by Annie Rigby, both currently playing.

This year's Spitalfields Winter Festival, centred on Nicholas Hawkesmoor's Christ Church, one of the great baroque churches of Europe, runs from 11th to 19th December. The festival explores the sound of the festive season through the centuries, from some of the earliest written Christmas music up to the present day, employing musical forces ranging from local residents and workers at a Community Carol Service and Sing Gospel event, to the Choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, European Union Baroque Orchestra, London Adventist Chorale, Acoustic Triangle, EXAUDI and BBC Symphony Orchestra and Singers. Other venues include Shoreditch Church and the Spitalfields Market. All this, plus free events, bell ringing, and winter walks and visits around the Spitalfields and Shorditch area. Further information can be found on the Spitalfields Festival web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Christmas season at the New End Theatre in Hampstead will combine early evening performances of The Shakespeare Revue, devised by Christopher Luscombe and Malcolm McKee, with Francesca Casey, Helen Evans, Matthew Stevens and Nicholas White, directed by Ben Horslen and John Risebero, from 12th to 31st December, produced by Antic Disposition; and mid evening performances of M R James's Pleasing Terror, two ghost stories told by R M Lloyd Parry, (making the most of the building's former life as the mortuary of New End Hospital), from 16th December to 6th January, produced by Nunkie Theatre Company.

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