News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd July 1999

Sadler's Wells is to shut as a theatre for four weeks in February, because it cannot afford to book any more major companies in the current financial year. Instead, it will host conferences and trade shows, in an effort to generate extra income. A second year of standstill funding, including a reduction in the London Borough Grant, is responsible. It cannot provide top quality work at reasonable prices throughout the year on its current resources. At present the Arts Council provides no core funding.

Fittings: The Last Freak Show will play at The Roundhouse from 20th to 24th July. Using the Victorian tradition of the fairground freak show as a starting point, Graeae, the theatre company for people with disabilities, and Fittings, the multimedia group, have developed a unique event. In a tent at Greenwich on Millennium eve, a troupe of fantastical and bizarre creatures tell of their histories and experiences. The piece is written by Mike Kenny and directed by Jenny Sealey and Garry Robson.

Liz Robertson and Robert Meadmore star in a showcase of a new musical at the King's Head Theatre on 18th and 19th July. Subtitled He, She and IT, the show centres on the effects of the pressures of modern life on a relationship. Book and lyrics are by Mary Stewart-David, music is by Denis King, and David Kernan directs. Robert Meadmore also features with Suzi Pattinson and Denise Silvey in the musical entertainment Starting Here, Starting Now at the Jermyn Street Theatre from 23rd July to 14th August. Lyrics are by Richard Maltby Jr, music by David Shire and Geoff David directs.

Professional writers are invited to submit entries for Theatre Showcase, to be held next February, which will provide an opportunity for new work to be seen. Jointly organised by the Writers' Guild, Equity and the Directors' Guild, the winners will receive a staged reading by professional actors at the London Actor's Centre. Scripts must be at least 1 hour in length, and the closing date for entries is 31st August. Further details from Patsy Trench, 50 Hillfield Road London NW6 1PZ.

Simon Drake's Secret Cabaret will be staged in Open Nights at the House Of Magic on 10th July and 7th August. The House Of Magic is a secret location somewhere in central London. Its intriguing features include the Haunted Cellar, the Whispering Chair, the Red Room and the Enchanted Garden. The evening consists of tours of the above, plus dinner, the cabaret with extreme illusions, and dancing afterwards.

The Palace Theatre Westcliff is to reopen for a five year period, with Roy Marsden as artistic director, under the management of producers Green & Lenagan. The plan is to stage five in house productions each year, plus touring and amateur shows. Marsden's first production in December, will be local actor and writer Ron Pember's adaptation of Dickens A Christmas Carol.

Between Love & Passion, a new musical based on a short story by F Scott Fitzgerald plays at the New End Theatre from 14th July to 15th August, prior to its New York launch. Music is by Will Todd, lyrics by Daniel Hopkins and book by Matt Avery and David Nichols. In a passionate and deadly rivalry, two men compete for the love of high society's most beautiful woman, from the cafes of Paris to the concert halls of New York, before and during the First World War. It is directed by Charlotte Conquest, and produced by The London Musicals Company and Pluto Productions.

Comic Relief's Red Nose day appeal received 400,000 via the internet, probably the largest amount of money donated to charity using the medium. In association with People's Bank, Comic Relief is now launching a credit card - The Little Red Card - which will generate a donation from People's Bank each time it is used. If one in ten of the people who donated on Red Nose Day took The Little Red Card, over 1m could be raised by Red Nose Day 2001 in the first on-going fundraising initiative. Full details can be found on the Comic Relief web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Christopher Eccleston will make his West End debut, as the valet seduced by his employer, in Frank McGuinness' new version of Strindberg's Miss Julie in February. The production will also feature Canadian actress Megan Follows and Claire Rushbrook, and will be directed by Hal Prince.

Left-handed performers are being sought for a show at the Left Handers Club day in Covent Garden on 13th August. Acts which have an obvious left handed bias should contact organiser Lauren Milson at the Mecca for left-handers: Anything Left Handed, 57 Brewer Street London W1R 3FB, 0171 437 3910.

My Father's Son, will receive its world premiere at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield from 14th to 17th July. Book and lyrics are by Stephen Clark, and music by Stephen Keeling. Loosely based on Hamlet, it is set in the Sheffield steel industry during a time of industrial unrest, with a young grinder avenging the "accidental" death of his father. A company of 45 is directed by Steven Dexter.

The Rumour Machine says: that a musical about Toulouse Lautrec, with music and lyrics by Charles Aznavour, and book by Shaun Mckenna will be staged in London in the spring; and that Masterpieces, a new Noel Coward revue by Christopher Luscombe and Malcolm McKee, produced by Duncan Weldon, will arrive this autumn. The Rumour Machine grinds on.