News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd May 2008

LIFT - London International Festival of Theatre, which has presented cutting edge companies from all over the world since 1981, is returning after a break of 7 years, running from 12th June to 6th July. This year's event will see the launch of a mobile hub called The Lift, a four storey structure that will act as a theatre, concert hall, cinema and public meeting space throughout the festival, in addition to performances taking place at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Stratford Circus and the Southbank Centre. The festival will feature the UK premieres of productions from Australia, India, China, Canada and South Africa, with highlights including Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking, a piece exploring the psychological impact of war on young people; Murundak, a performance about contemporary Aboriginal life presented by Black Arm Band; and Report On The Body, by Living Dance Studio, China's only independent dance company.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Zorro, a musical version of the story of a masked hero and swashbuckling swordsman, who defends the people of Spanish California against injustice in the 19th century, which has just completed a regional tour, will transfer to the Garrick Theatre, opening on 15th July, with Matt Rawle in the title role - but without the current co-stars Adam Cooper and Aimie Atkinson. The show, with book by Stephen Clark and Helen Edmundson, and the music of the flamenco band the Gipsy Kings, is directed by Christopher Renshaw, with choreography by Rafael Amargo. It is produced by the Chilean writer Isabel Allende, from whose book Zorro: A Novel, it is freely adapted.

The Royal Opera House is extending its free big screen live relays of ballet and opera productions to more locations across Britain this summer. On 1st June at 3pm, The Royal Ballet performing Romeo And Juliet will be shown in the Piazza Covent Garden, Canada Square Canary Wharf, Christchurch Park Ipswich, Chamberlain Square Birmingham, Centenary Square Terrace Bradford, Market Place Derby, Queen Victoria Square Hull, Millennium Square Leeds, Exchange Square Manchester, All Saints' Square Rotherham and Wharf Green Swindon. On 3rd July at 6pm, the Royal Opera performing Don Carlo will be shown in Trafalgar Square, Canary Wharf and Clayton Square Liverpool. On 16 July at 7pm, the Royal Opera performing The Marriage Of Figaro will be shown in Trafalgar Square, Canary Wharf, Chertsey Road Sunbury, Duthie Park Aberdeen, Lakeside Shopping Centre Thurrock, Botanic Gardens Belfast and Liverpool. Further information can be found on the ROH web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Entertainment company Weird and Wonderful are in the process of creating three new performance spaces within the County Hall building, once the home of London local government, on the South Bank next to Westminster Bridge, to be called Greater London Theatre. The first will be in the former council chamber, with a seating capacity of 200, where performances may start in the next month or so, the second will be on the outdoor terrace, so that shows can be viewed from the Embankment, with performances beginning this summer, and the third will be a black box studio, to be constructed later this year.

Also, the Kings Place development in York Way, with water frontage along Battlebridge Basin on the Regent's Canal, at King's Cross, will include a 420 seater concert hall, designed by Dixon Jones, which will open on 1st October, with London Sinfonietta and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as resident orchestras. Its event programme will include contemporary music, jazz, chamber music and talks, with an opening festival that will feature performances by the Brodsky Quartet, Ian Burnside, the F-ire jazz collective and the Endymion Ensemble. The development, part of the Kings Cross regeneration programme, will also include a rehearsal room, two art galleries, and a sculpture studio, together with restaurants and bars.

The 61st Aldburgh Festival will run from 13th to 29th June. Among the highlights will be the world premieres of An Ocean Of Rain, music by Yannis Kyriakides, text by Daniel Danis, about three women helping at a Haitian orphanage, when a girl arrives on the run from a murder, with Anna Dennis, Camille Hesketh, Katalin Karolyi and Hyacinth Nicholls, directed by Cathie Boyd; Joseph Phibbs's Musical Memory Box, created from musical memories of the people of Aldeburgh, with soundscape material by Mike Challis, directed by Matthew Rowe, performed on the beach; and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group performing Thomas Ades's Living Toys, an instrumental fantasy featuring a bad dream, a battle, a funeral and a music hall waltz. As well as performances, there will be films, workshops, lectures, masterclasses, walks and other outdoor events. Further information can be found on the Aldburgh web site, via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Can't Smile Without You, a musical featuring the back catalogue of Barry Manilow, based on an original idea by Bill Kenwright, (who also co-directs with Keith Strachan and produces), book by Tim Prager, with choreography by Carole Todd, will open a regional tour at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley from 28th August. The somewhat confusing storyline involves a boyband, a 'reality television' show, and following an accident, a medical condition that only the redemptive power of music can cure.

Wilton's Music Hall in Wapping, the oldest and last surviving grand music hall in the world, is to present Angus Barr's Wink The Other Eye, its first true music hall show since 1880, from 22nd July to 16th August. Set in Wilton's, it is the tale of two artists as they fall in love whilst desperately seeking fame and fortune in the music hall. The show features original music hall songs, and resurrects the most famous artists, placing them in a night at Wilton's Grand Music Hall. Prior to this, events at Wilton's include: Jimmy Flint's autobiographical play The Wapping Assassin, the story of an East End borstal boy who becomes a boxing champion, directed by Paul Savage, from 23rd to 26th June; and a multi-media production of Deirdre Gribbin's Crossing The Sea, an opera for one woman (and two dancers), with Alison Wells, Amy Bell and Valentina Golfieri, adapted from a Chinese Tang poem about a passionate woman who loses her lover to war, and her desire to make contact with him again, directed by Lou Stein, from 3rd to 5th July.

The Rumour Machine says: that Ron Hutchinson's golden age of Hollywood comedy Moonlight And Magnolias, in which producer David O Selznick hires script doctor Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming to 'fix' his film of Gone With The Wind, directed by Sean Holmes, will return to the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn in July, prior to a West End transfer; that the Belgrade Theatre Coventry production of Scenes From A Marriage, Joanna Murray-Smith's new adaptation of Ingmar Bergman's 1973 television series, about a couple who even divorce cannot keep apart, with Iain Glen and Imogen Stubbs, directed by Trevor Nunn, may be West End bound in the autumn; and that the Menier Chocolate Factory may stage the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music, adapted from Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film Smiles Of A Summer Night, possibly also directed by Trevor Nunn, at Christmas. The Rumour Machine grinds on.