News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd February 2001

Following its two recent successes, the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company is returning to the Savoy Theatre with its production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance. It will open an eight week season on 24th April, directed by Stuart Maunder and presented by Raymond Gubbay. The Savoy was built by Richard D'Oyly Carte to house G & S operettas.

A review of the Royal Shakespeare Company's recent performance by the Arts Council has concluded that it should concentrate its limited resources on 'more and better Shakespeare'. At present Shakespeare's plays constitute about half its repertoire, and recent productions of King Lear and Anthony And Cleopatra have been panned. At the same time the Barbican Centre is threatening to withdraw some or all of its 750,000 annual contribution to the RSC's funding, unless its artistic performance improves. Artistic director Adrian Noble believes that the company already does enough Shakespeare, and says: "We've got to find a balance between what we can do artistically, and what we can afford financially."

Francesca Annis and Anthony Andrews star in Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts at the Theatre Royal Windsor from 20th February to 3rd March. Bill Kenwright's prospective West End production is directed by Robin Philips, who will return to Windsor to direct Oscar Wilde's The Picture Of Dorian Gray later in the year. Also featured in Windsor's spring season are Eric Sykes and Christopher Biggins in Brandon Thomas Charley's Aunt directed by Val May from 20th March to 7th April.

Edward Albee is concerned that he is perceived as a as a one-hit wonder, and he is refusing permission for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to be staged. This is an effort to see his other plays, such as Three Tall Women, performed more regularly.

The world premiere of Pura Pasion, which endeavours to reinterpret the language of flamenco afresh whilst retaining its distinctive voice, will be at the Peacock Theatre from 27th February to 17th March. Cristobal Reyes, Lola Greco and Rafaella Carrasco head a company of 24 dancers, choreographed by Reyes and Joaquin Cortes.

Arthur Miller's rarely performed The Man Who Had All The Luck is playing at the Crucible Sheffield until 24th February. It is a modern day morality play about a man who has everything his heart desires and feels it is too good to be true. David Hunt directs. The Crucible/Greenwich Theatre co-production Passports To The Promised Land plays at Greenwich from 19th February to 10th March prior to a regional tour, including its appearance Sheffield from 5th to 14th April.. The cast includes Alyson Brown, Gary Bryden, Melanie Hudson, Michael Samuels and Lesley-Anne Wells. Graham Devlin directs.

Collections belonging to two of Britain's acting legends are to be auctioned in two sales at Sotheby's. Among the possessions of Sir John Gielgud to be offered on 5th April, are his Panama hat, gloves and cigarette case, a collection of theatre posters, and his annotated 27-volume J M Dent pocket Shakespeare. There is also a copy of Hamlet bequeathed to him by Laurence Olivier, and paintings by Lely, Van Der Merck, Matthew Smith, Christopher Wood and Raoul Dufy, together with antique furniture. Among Sir Ralph Richardson's effects on sale on 27th April, are gifts from Gielgud, J B Priestley, and Sir Alec Guinness, together with paintings and prints, and a book on parrots.

On The Casting Couch: the Almeida Theatre's production of Frank Wedekind's Lulu opening on 8th March in their temporary home at the Coach Station, Omega Place, Off Caledonian Road, King's Cross is headed by Anna Friel, Alan Howard, Oliver Milburn, and Johanna Ter Steege.

Shakespeare's Globe continues its programme of staged readings of rarely performed works by Shakespeare's contemporaries on Sunday afternoons. In March, 4th: Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, in which confidence tricksters promise gold to the nave. 11th: John Lyly's Midas, offering a new twist on the Midas legend. 25th: Thomas Heywood's The Golden Age, another play based on classical allusions. In April, 1st: Ben Jonson's The Devil Is An Ass which satirises the worlds of business and fashion. 8th: Thomas Middleton and John Webster's Anything For A Quiet Life, a bleak comedy about wife taming. Each reading is preceded at 12noon by an introduction to its background by Diana Devlin and Maggy Williams. Further information from the Shakespeare's Globe web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The theatre lost one of its real gentlemen this week, with the death of composer and lyricist David Heneker on 30th January. One of Britain's most successful and prolific writers, his roll call of shows included Expresso Bongo, Irma La Douce, Make Me An Offer, Half A Sixpence, Charlie Girl, Jorrocks, Phil The Fluter, Popkiss, The Biograph Girl and Peg. Probably his best known song was 'Flash, Bang, Wallop' from Half A Sixpence, which has just ended a successful revival at West Yorkshire Playhouse. David received several awards and honours during his long song-writing career, including three Ivor Novello Awards.

The Rumour Machine at the National Theatre says: that John Caird will direct Simon Russell Beale in Humble Boy, a new play by Charlotte Jones in the summer; that Nicholas Hyntner will direct Mark Ravehill's Mother Clap's Molly House in the autumn; that Glen Close will make her UK stage debut next year in Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire (making its debut at the National) directed by Trevor Nunn; and that Tom Stoppard is working on a trilogy of plays set in 19th century Russia, following the three main characters over twenty five years, again to be staged by Nunn next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.