News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd August 2002

The previously mentioned British makeover of the French musical Romeo & Juliet, by lyricist Don Black and Opera Factory director David Freeman, will open at the Piccadilly Theatre on 6th November. The show, with music by Gerard Presgurvic, was first seen in Paris in January last year, and has since become one of the most successful French language musicals of all time (not difficult given their track record). Although the show has a contemporary book and score, the story, characters and setting of Renaissance Verona remain as in Shakespeare's original. The producers are Adam Kenwright, City Lights Entertainment and Gerard Louvin from the French production team.

Edward Woodward returns to the stage after a 15 year absence as the 1950s television legend in Goodbye Gilbert Harding, a new play by Leonard Preston, which opens a prospective pre West End tour at the Theatre Royal Plymouth on 13th September. Based on the memoirs of the private secretary to the journalist and broadcaster, who was hailed as 'the rudest man in Britain', it explores the man behind the public image and the cost of celebrity. The cast also includes Helen Bourne, Jonathan Cullen, Frances Cuka, Joshua Henderson and Christopher Saul, and the director is David Giles.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the first West End venture by pantomime producer Qudos will be Debbie Isitt's The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, with Alison Steadman, Daisy Donovan and Philip Jackson, opening at the New Ambassadors Theatre on 16th September. The black comedy, which was first seen at the Edinburgh Fringe and the Royal Court in 1992, is the tale of a wife's ultimate revenge, when her husband leaves her for a younger woman. Only for those with a strong stomach. Debbie Isitt will direct.

The Three Choirs Festival, which this year rests at Worcester from 17th to 23rd August, takes Jubilee as its theme, bringing together William Walton, C V Stanford and the Queen. Among the pieces to be performed will be Walton's marches Orb and Sceptre and History of the English Speaking Peoples, and setting of W H Auden's The Twelve; Stanford's 2nd Piano Concerto and Irish Symphony; and Handel's Coronation Anthems and Elgar's 1902 Coronation Ode. Full details can be found on the Three Choirs Festival web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

A double bill from the Gate Theatre Dublin will transfer to the Gielgud Theatre on 19th September. It comprises John Hurt and Penelope Wilton in Brian Friel's Afterplay, a Stoppardesqe imaginary meeting of two Chekhov characters in a Moscow cafe years after their appearance in the play; and Stephen Brennan, Eamon Morrissey and Flora Montgomery in Friel's new version of Chekhov's The Bear, both directed by Robin Lefevre. The plays are presented in London by Act Productions.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's autumn season at the Birmingham Hippodrome opens on 2nd October with Way Out West!, celebrating the contrasting sides of America. Fancy Free, is set in New York, inspired by the musical On The Town, and danced to a score by Leonard Bernstein. Western Symphony, is a Balanchine piece with cowboys and bar girls in a Western town, dancing to American folk tunes. The programme will also include Concert Fantasy, a new ballet by David Bintley to music by Tchaikovsky.

San Francisco's Antenna Theater production of Euphorium, 'a 40 minute hallucinogenic trip through Samuel Taylor Coleridge's opium-infused fantasia Kubla Khan' is being staged in the Undercroft of The Roundhouse from 14th August. Devised by Chris Hardman using MP3 technology, digital audio effects, multidimensional images (and a few Coney Island funfair tricks), it transports the audience through a maze of sights and sounds to the netherworld of Xanadu with the aid of a Walkman and virtual reality visor. Thus The Roundhouse returns to its '60s roots. The audience is admitted at 90 second intervals throughout the opening times: Wednesday to Friday 6pm-10.30pm, Saturday 1pm-10.30pm and Sunday 1pm-6pm. A visit to the Undercroft alone is worth the price of admission. Soho Theatre Company is presenting the experience. Further information can be found on The Roundhouse web site via the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company is to continue the current season in its spiritual home of the Savoy Theatre with the return of HMS Pinafore, Gilbert and Sullivan's first major success, on 18th December. The usual labyrinthine plot concerns a humble sailor who finds that his rival for the hand of a captain's daughter is First Lord of the Admiralty. This production, directed by Martin Duncan, was last seen two years ago, and is again presented by Raymond Gubbay.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust offers Travelling Fellowships to enable British citizens to acquire knowledge and experience abroad in their chosen professional field. Performing and creative arts is one of the categories for the 2003 awards, and the Trust is keen to receive applications from choreographers, composers, writers, painters and sculptors amongst others. The closing date for submissions is 30th October. Further information and an online application form can be found on the WCMT web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that David Hare is working on another 'State Of The Nation' play, about life under Blairism, and how spin has destroyed its ideals; that the Royal Shakespeare Company may make the Old Vic its new London home for a five month season each year; that Thomas Meehan, co-bookwriter of the Broadway musical versions of The Producers and Hairspray, has another legendary property in his sights: The Addams Family; that a new American tour of Starlight Express opening next year will feature prefilmed 3D racing sequences; that Tim Rice is angling for Catherine Zeta Jones and Kevin Spacey to star in his stage musical adaptation of the 1953 film From Here To Eternity, set in pre Pearl Harbour Hawaii; and that Malcolm Sutherland is writing a stage adaptation of Gore Vidal's novel Live From Golgotha, a media satire involving the crucifixion, with the West End in mind for next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.