News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd June 2006

Battle Abbey will join regulars Kenwood, Marble Hill and Audley End in this year's Music On A Summer Evening series of outdoor picnic concerts at English Heritage properties, on weekends between 24th June and 27th August. Highlights will include appearances by Art Garfunkel, Westlife, Ronan Keating, Simple Minds, Russell Watkins, Bryn Terfel, Jools Holland, Van Morrison, Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, City of London Orchestra and English Chamber Orchestra, plus the famous flag waving Last Night with Wynne Evans, Yvette Bonner and the City of London Sinfonia. All events feature firework finales, plus a choreographed spitfire display at Audley End and Battle Abbey. Further information can be found on the MOASE web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

New York TheatreNet: The Lincoln Center will stage the American premiere of Tom Stoppard's trilogy The Coast Of Utopia, directed by Jack O'Brien, beginning on 10th October. Set in 19th century Russia, it is an epic story following the three main characters over a period of twenty five years, examining political and philosophical idealism, through 50 characters, both fictional and historical (such as Karl Marx and Ivan Turgenev). It will be a revised version of the play first staged at the National Theatre in 2002.

Goldsmiths College is holding a free open day on Saturday 17th June from 11am to 3pm. It will include informal talks with tutors, sessions for prospective research students, exhibitions, and campus tours, providing information about undergraduate, postgraduate, adult education and short course study opportunities, in over 30 subjects across music, drama, dance and visual arts. Further information can be found on the Goldsmiths web site via the link from Training in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Rufus Sewell, Brian Cox and Sinead Cusack will be joined by Edward Hogg, Nicole Ansari Cox, Louise Bangay, Anthony Calf, Martin Chamberlain, Miranda Colchester, Alice Eve and Peter Sullivan in Rock 'N' Roll, opening at the Royal Court Theatre on 14th June; Penelope Wilton and Michael Gambon will reprise their roles in the Gate Theatre Dublin production of Eh Joe, opening at the Duke of York's Theatre on 30th June; Simon Russell Beale will be joined by Oliver Ford Davies, Andrew Woodall, Zubin Varla, Tim McMullan, Duncan Bell and Elisabeth Dermot Walsh in The Life Of Galileo, opening at the National Theatre on 6th July; and Michael Sheen will be partnered by Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 15th August.

The Scoop, the 1,000 seater open air amphitheatre next to City Hall, the Greater London Assembly building on the south bank opposite the Tower of London, is presenting another summer season of free performances, from 3rd August to 17th September. It will comprise Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle, an ancient Chinese tale turned into a Marxist parable, postulating that that resources should go to those who will make best use of them; and Euripides's Cyclops, bringing Odysseus's encounter with the one eyed monster alive through comedy, live music and puppetry. As with the previous shows, they will be directed by Phil Willmott, and produced by Suzanna Rosenthal and The Steam Industry. There is no need to book - just turn up and sit down. Prior to this, there will be a season of free screenings of classic films of all kinds at 9.15pm on Wednesday to Friday evenings between 7th and 30th June; and free lunchtime and early evening concerts in conjunction with The Allstars, on Tuesdays to Fridays between 4th and 28th July. Further information can be found on The Scoop web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Lost Empires: The Phenomenon Of Theatres Past, Present And Future, Nigel Fountain's lavishly illustrated book, recently published by Cassell, tells the story of the variety theatres and music halls that were once part of every city, and puts them into the context of their times. Music halls were the first mass entertainment medium, created for and by the new centres of population that sprang up during the Industrial Revolution. Proprietors vied with each other to open ever more splendid buildings, designed by Frank Matcham, the Milburn brothers and others, and the most eclectic mixtures of high and low culture. Fountain vividly captures the spirit of the time of their creation, and of the acts who played in them. In addition, he also brings up to date the story of the few Empires that survive - some as theatres, such as the recently restored Hackney Empire, some put to other uses, such as the Smethwick Empire, now a Sikh temple, and others just as remnants, such as the stained glass windows of the Cleethorpes Empire, preserved behind panelling in an amusement arcade.

The world premiere of the musical Curtains, the final collaboration of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, with book (adapted from the original idea by Peter Stone) by Rupert Holmes, directed by Scott Ellis, will open at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles on 9th August. David Hyde Pierce will star as a show tune loving detective in the backstage murder mystery, set in Boston in 1959, during the pre-Broadway tryout of a new musical, where the leading lady is murdered. The producers are the Center Theatre Group.

The summer season at the Finborough Theatre in Earls Court includes

Gerhart Hauptmann's The Beaver Coat, a working class comedy of larger than life characters set in the Berlin suburbs at the end of the 19th century, with Mike Aherne, Joanna Bacon, David Birrell, Roger Braban, David Brett, Charlie Buckland, John Cummins, Jot Davies, Suzannne Heathcote, Anthony Keetch and Stephanie Thomas, directed by Christopher Rolls, opening on 22nd June; the musical Three Sides, music and lyrics by Grant Olding, and book by Grant Olding with Toby Davies, a contemporary love story, about three selfish, needy, passionate, neurotic, romantic, overworked individuals, with Simon Gleeson, Jon-Paul Hevey and Caroline Sheen, directed by Clive Paget, playing Sundays and Mondays from 25th June; Rolf Hochhuth's The Representative, translated by Robert David MacDonald, set in 1942, about two men trying to convince Pope Pius XII to break his silence and condemn Hitler; directed by Kate Wasserberg, opening on 20th July; and the British premiere of Raimondo Courtese's Roulette, four duologues of black humour and menace, charting meetings between strangers, friends, colleagues and family members, playing Sundays and Mondays from 23rd July.