News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd July 2004

The award winning Off Broadway show Bat Boy - The Musical, currently receiving its UK premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, will transfer to the Shaftesbury Theatre on 8th September. The show, with book by Keythe Farley and Brian Fleming, and music and lyrics by Lawrence O'Keefe, featuring Deven May, who created the title role in New York, Emma Williams, John Barr, Maurey Richards and Rebecca Vere, is directed by Mark Wing-Davy. Set in a small town in West Virginia, it is the tale of a half-boy, half-bat coming to terms with his disabilities. The show is a co-production by WYP, Michael Alden Productions, and Robert Mackintosh and Martin Yates for West End International.

The Haymarket Theatre in Leicester will reopen this autumn following its abrupt closure in July of last year. It relaunches with a transfer from Sadler's Wells of the musical Singin' In The Rain, staring Adam Cooper and Ronni Ancona, directed by Paul Kerryson, from 9th to 26th September. This will be followed by two plays in repertoire: Athol Fugard's South African classic Master Harold And The Boys, directed by Kully Thiarai, from 13th October, joined from 20th October by To Kill A Mockingbird, adapted from the novel by Harper Lee, about an Alabama lawyer who risks all by agreeing to represent a black defendant, directed by Paul Kerryson, running until 14th November. Anima Dance's production of Dylan Sheldon's The Whale Song, created by Sue Rosenbloom, plays from 8th to 10th December, with Adrian Mitchel's adaptation of C S Lewis's, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, directed by Paul Kerryson running from 2nd December until 8th January.

London has gained a new concert hall, as the former Christian Science church in Sloane Terrace (just a crotchet away from Sloane Street and Sloane Square) has been bought and transformed by the Cadogan Estate. The 15m scheme, designed by Paul Davis, has created a 900 seat venue to be known as the Cadogan Hall, which can be used for rehearsal, performance and recording. It will become the home and headquarters of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which will perform chamber music concerts there, but it will also be available for hire for other concerts, exhibitions and arts events. The building's exterior is Byzantine in design, with art deco detailing on the interior, including bronze and oak additions.

It will be tutus at 30 paces this Christmas, as Matthew Bourne's staging of Swan Lake, featuring its legendary all male swan chorus, has rescheduled its postponed appearance at Sadler's Wells Theatre, and will now play from 30th November to 16th January. The season will be presented by Clear Channel Entertainment and Sadler's Wells in association with New Adventures. Meanwhile the Royal Ballet's production of Swan Lake, choreographed by Anthony Dowell, will run from 22nd December to 25th January at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

Two of American musical theatre's most successful writing teams, composer John Kander and lyricist and book writer Fred Ebb, and composer Jerrold Bock and lyricist and book writer Sheldon Harnick have donated their archives to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, located at Lincoln Centre in New York. The 35 boxes of material includes sheet music, lyrics - on everything from yellow legal pads to hotel napkins - correspondence, plot outlines, call sheets, production notes, prop lists, contracts and production budgets - together with 16 unused songs from Fiddler On The Roof, and a quote for making the gorilla suit for the original production of Cabaret.

It's Official! Oh yes it is! As previously forecast here, Lily Savage will star in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at the Victoria Palace from 17th December to 23rd January. Though not a traditional pantomime, the show has become increasingly popular as a Christmas entertainment. This production was seen last year at the Birmingham Hippodrome.

Buxton Festival, centred on the spectacular Opera House designed by Frank Matcham, running from 9th to 25th July, continues the twin themes of opera and literature. Highlights include new festival productions of Rossini's comedy Il turco in Italia and Handel's musical drama Hercules, the world premiere of Will Todd's The Blackened Man, a Victorian story of an innocent man accused of murder and unjustly sentenced to hang, and the first British production of Astor Piazzolla's 'tango opera' Maria de Buenos Aires, plus concerts and recitals covering a wide range of music. The Literary Series boasts appearances by a variety of writers, broadcasters and personalities, including Melvyn Bragg, Barry Cryer, William Deeds, Robert Lacey, Blake Morrison, James Naughtie Libby Purves, John Sergeant and Patrick Stewart. Further information can be found on the Buxton Festival web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The National Portrait Gallery is currently showing an exhibition called Gaiety Girls: Footlight Favourites From The 1900s To The 1920s. It features highlights from a collection of over 3,000 negatives of the many actresses of Edwardian London who were life long favourites of Cecil Beaton, and inspired many of his theatrical designs, especially for the 1914 Ascot scene for the film of My Fair Lady. Among the performers included in the display are Gaby Deslys, Gina Palerme, Gabrielle Ray and Pauline Chase.

The Palace Theatre Watford has announced its reopening season, following an 8.7m refurbishment, starting with Tanika Gupta's contemporary Asian version of William Wycherley's Restoration comedy The Country Wife, directed by Lawrence Till, from 8th to 30th October. In house productions will include Mother Goose, running from 3rd December to 9th January; and Amy Rosenthal's Sitting Pretty, about a redundant woman in her fifties, who stumbles across a life drawing class which changes her life, which is a co-production with Nica Burns, Max Weitzenhoffer and Keith Murray. The Palace will no longer be a full time producing theatre, and the remainder of the season will be comprised of touring productions.