News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 2nd October 2009

Once again there is an extravagance of premieres in the 30th Dance Umbrella, running from 6th October to 7th November, presenting the best of national and international contemporary dance, with 20 companies performing at venues across London. Highlights include: Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan with Wind Shadow, a study of motion created through monochromatic palettes and the use of light and shadow; Jiri Kylian and Michael Schumacher with Last Touch First, which unfolds like an eerie, slow-motion Victorian melodrama, reminiscent of the plays of Anton Chekhov; Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company with Hydra, a surreal journey staged using extraordinary costumes and props, inspired by a Japanese fable; Mark Morris Dance Group with new works alongside classics from the company's repertoire; Rosemary Lee with Common Ground, a site specific event involving 50 professional and non-professional dancers aged 8 to 80, and a choir of 70 young people; Michael Clark Company's new work set to the music of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed; and a free outdoor human sculpture trail. Full details of programmes and venues can be found on the Dance Umbrella web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the hit Edinburgh Fringe production of Tim Whitnall's one man play Morecambe, with Bob Golding as Eric Morecambe, directed by Guy Masterson, will play at the Duchess Theatre from December 8th.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's 2010 season in Stratford upon Avon will comprise Shakespeare's King Lear, directed by David Farr, Romeo And Juliet, directed by Rupert Goold, and Antony And Cleopatra, directed by Michael Boyd, plus Morte D'Arthur, in a new adaptation by Mike Poulton, directed by Gregory Doran, and a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda, book by Dennis Kelly, music and lyrics Tim Minchin, about a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers, directed by Matthew Warchus. The RSC will play a 10 week season at The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, from December next year, with 8 productions chosen from the 2009 and 2010 repertoires.

New York TheatreNet: Dame Edna Everage, now officially upgraded from megastar to gigastar, will return to Broadway in It's All About Me, 'a glorious celebration of everything Edna', directed by Jerry Zaks, opening in March at a Shubert theatre to be announced.

The current exhibition at the National Theatre is Public Faces Private Places, featuring photographs by Sandra Lousada, running until 18th October. Lousada grew up amidst a circle of actors, writers and artists. Through her grandfather, writer and politician A P Herbert, her mother, stage designer Jocelyn Herbert, and Jocelyn's partner George Devine, founder of the Royal Court, she had privileged access to the world of literature, the arts, theatre and film. This exhibition brings together a selection of her photographs which capture the insider's view of this milieu, including Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Christie, Helen Mirren, Joanna Lumley and David Hockney.

The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield has announced its reopening season, following its 15.3m redevelopment, which has seen the theatre's octagonal performance area replaced with a thrust stage, and front of house redesigned. It will include, in the Crucible: Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy Of The People, in an adaptation by Christopher Hampton, which explores the dynamic between political accountability and expediency, with Antony Sher, directed by Daniel Evans, opening on 17th February; Sam Shepard's True West, about sibling rivalry and Hollywood hypocrisy, in a clash between two brothers, a screenwriter and a small time crook, directed by Paul Miller, opening on 18th May; Alice, a contemporary reworking of Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland by Laura Wade, directed by Lyndsey Turner; opening on 22nd July; and in the Studio: Sisters, written and performed by Stephanie Street, based on interviews with British Muslim women about their experiences in the wake of the London bombings in 2005, directed by Ruth Carney; Roy Williams's There's Only One Wayne Matthews, a children's play about a young boy battling to become the first black footballer to make the England squad, directed by Dawn Walton, opening on 30th March; and Polly Stenham's That Face, about two children who have become parents to their parents because of their mother's alcoholism, directed by Richard Wilson, opening on 7th July.

Sacred Flame, a dance musical spectacular, with music by Ronan Hardiman, featuring Marti Pello, directed and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, will open at the O2 Arena on 28th December. Set in modern day South America, it follows the story of a teenage boy who journeys to Peru to understand why he was given away as a baby.

The autumn season at the Theatre Royal Stratford East will include Cosh Omar's The Great Extension, with Dimitri Andreas, Faraz Ayub, Ben Bennett, Jack Chissick, Amerjit Deu, Akin Gazi, Raj Ghatak, Jacob Krichefski, Cosh Omar, Sharona Sassoon and Ruby Visaria, an inter-racial comedy set in suburban London, directed by Kerry Michael, opening on 24th October; Trish Cooke and Robert Hyman's Aladdin, from 28th November; and Nona Shepphard's Signs Of A Diva, about the alter-ego of undertaker who has to make a life changing decision with the help of her most trusted friends - Judy Garland, Dolly Parton, Billie Holiday, Dusty Springfield and Patsy Cline, with Caroline Parker, from 27th January.

The Rumour Machine says: that following the concert production at the Royal Albert Hall starring Josh Groban and Idina Menzel, the musical Chess, music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, lyrics by Tim Rice, a mixture of American/Russian chess and romantic rivalry, may return to Broadway next year; that Scarlett Johansson and Sean Hayes will feature in the musical Promises Promises, adapted from the film The Apartment, book by Neil Simon, music by Burt Bacharach, lyrics by Hal David, directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, opening on Broadway in the spring; and that Paradise Found, a new musical based on Joseph Roth's novel The Tale Of The 1002nd Night, about an impotent Shah with 139 wives, who travels to Vienna, where he falls in love with the empress of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, book by Richard Nelson, lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh, music by Johann Strauss II adapted by Jonathan Tunick, co-directed by Harold Prince and Susan Stroman, with prospectively John Cullum, Mandy Patinkin, Shuler Hensley, Judy Kaye and Emily Skinner, will premiere at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark, next June. The Rumour Machine grinds on.