News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd July 2010

The National Theatre has announced further productions in its autumn season. In the Lyttelton: the premiere of J T Rogers's Blood And Gifts, a global political thriller set at the time of the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, with Matthew Marsh and Lloyd Owen, directed by Howard Davies, opening on 14th September; and Ena Lamont Stewart's Men Should Weep, about a large and impoverished family living in 1930s Glasgow, with Sharon Small, directed by Josie Rourke, opening on 26th October. In the Cottesloe: Or You Could Kiss Me, written and directed by Neil Bartlett, with the Handspring Puppet Company, the story of two men in South Africa in both 1971 and 2036, opening on 5th October; plus daytime performances aimed at a young audience of Michael Lesslie's Prince Of Denmark, a prequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet, with the characters as teenagers, directed by Anthony Banks, from 14th October.

Meanwhile, the National has confirmed further productions to be broadcast to cinema screens around Britain and the world as part of its NT Live initiative. These will be Shakespeare's Hamlet, with Rory Kinnear, David Calder, Clare Higgins, Patrick Malahide and Ruth Negga, directed by Nicholas Hytner, on 9th December; the Broadway musical Fela!, with Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo, directed and choreographed by Bill T Jones, on 13th January; Mary Shelly's Frankenstein adapted by Nick Dear, directed by Danny Boyle, on 17th March; and a newly announced production of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, with Zoe Wanamaker, directed by Howard Davies.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, a revised version of the Broadway show Shrek: The Musical, book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, music by Jeanine Tesori, adapted from the story and characters in William Steig's children's book and the first animated film, in which a swamp-dwelling ogre embarks on a mission to reclaim the deed to his land, involving various fairytale characters, directed by Jason Moore, with choreography by Rob Ashford, will open at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 7th June.

The Featherstonehaughs, the six strong male dance group formed by choreographer Lea Anderson, is to embark on its first solo British tour in over a decade, opening at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield on 16th September. The group will perform a new piece, Edits, and a revised version of The Featherstonehaughs Draw On The Sketch Books Of Egon Schiele, inspired by the work of Austrian expressionist artist.

New York TheatreNet: Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy, with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones, directed by David Esbjornson, will open on Broadway at the Golden Theatre on 25th October. The play charts the relationship that develops when the son of a widowed 72 year old Jewish woman living in midcentury Atlanta, hires an African American man as her chauffeur.

It has been confirmed that the Theatre Royal, Bath production of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, in which a seance summons up the ghost of a novelist's first wife, who is determined to cause trouble for him and her replacement, with Alison Steadman, directed by Thea Sharrock, will open at the Apollo Theatre on 9th March.

Music at Woodhouse will stage Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, directed by Monika Saunders, on an open air stage beside the lake in the grounds of Woodhouse Copse, the Arts and Crafts house in Holmbury St Mary, between Dorking and Guildford, on 4th and 5th September at 4pm. The performances include a picnic interval.

All Star productions will stage the British premiere of the musical [title of show], book by Hunter Bell, music and lyrics by Jeff Bowen, with Paul Quinn, Michael Stacey, Arabella Rodrigo and Sarah Dearlove, directed by Dawn Kalani Cowle, at the Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, in Walthamstow, from 16th July. The show charts the process of the writers as they create the show in time to meet the submission deadline for the New York Musical Theatre Festival. It was subsequently chosen for the Festival, played on Off Broadway run, and then transferred to Broadway.

The new season at the Curve in Leicester will include the premiere of Vertical Road, a dance piece drawing inspiration from universal myths of angels that symbolise ascension, choreographed by Akram Khan, to a score by Nitin Sawhney, from 14th September; Hot Stuff, a back catalogue show featuring songs of the '70s and '80s, devised and directed by Paul Kerryson with Maggie Norris, choreography by David Needham, opening on 5th October; Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical The King And I, the story of an English woman who tutors the children of the King of Siam, with Janie Dee, directed by Paul Kerryson, with choreography by David Needham, opening on 7th December; and the Kneehigh theatre company production of the musical The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by Jacques Demy, English lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, in association with Charles Burr, adapted from the 1964 film, telling of the troubled romance of a garage mechanic and an assistant in an umbrella shop, directed by Emma Rice, opening a prospective pre West End season on 11th February.

The Night Before Christmas, a show set in Santa's workshop, designed to teach 2 year olds and above the true meaning of Christmas, through songs, poems and storytelling, will play daytime performances at the Ambassadors Theatre, from 7th to 24th December. After the show children will receive a gift, be able to meet Santa, and put their wish lists into his post box.

Northern Broadsides is to stage Harold Brighouse's The Game, a comedy from the pre First World War halcyon days of professional football, where players were working class heroes, and people knew their place, with Wendi Peters, directed by Barrie Rutter, opening a regional tour at Liverpool Playhouse, on 21st September; and George Orwell's dystopian tale 1984, adapted by Nick Lane, directed by Conrad Nelson, a co-production with the Duke's Theatre in Lancaster, where it opens on 17th September.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Chichester Festival Theatre production of the Stephen Clark-Howard Goodall musical Love Story, adapted from Erich Segal's novel, with Emma Williams and Michael Xavier, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, will transfer to the West End in the autumn; and that J B Priestley's comedy When We Are Married, about three couples celebrating their silver wedding anniversaries who find out an unwelcome secret, may also be West End bound in the autumn, with Roy Hudd and Rosemary Ashe, directed by Christopher Luscombe. The Rumour Machine grinds on.