News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd January 1997

Good reports of the try-out production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down The Wind in Washington. Based on Bryan Forbes's film of Mary Hayley Bell's novel, it relocates the action in the bible belt of the American deep south, of the 1950's. The story is about an escaped killer found hiding by three children, who think he is Jesus Christ. Hayley Mills starred in the film. Lyrics are by rock writer Jim Steinman, book by Patricia Knop, and direction by Hal Prince. The score is a departure for Lloyd Webber, drawing on a mixture of rock'n'roll, country and gospel. This was a one off production to see if the idea works, but Broadway in the spring now looks very likely.

Theatre folklore has always maintained that there were two musicals that would never be staged. The first, The Invisible Man, rejected on practical grounds - "The invisible man's outside. Tell him I can't see him." - was actually produced three years ago. Now the taste barrier has been broken as Titanic is Broadway bound. The book is by Peter Stone, who wrote Legs Diamond, with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, who wrote Nine (currently at the Donmar Warehouse) and Grand Hotel . It will be directed by Richard Jones. With previews from 12th March, it opens on 10th April at the Lunt Fontanne theatre. Write your own punning review headline.

Meanwhile, the next in house show at the Donmar Warehouse will be The Fix a new musical by John Dempsey and Dana P Rowe, about the rise and fall of a candidate in an American political campaign. A co-production with Cameron Mackintosh, this is Donmar's first premiere of a contemporary musical. It will open on 25th April for an eight week season. Sam Mendes is to direct.

Wallace & Gromit are about to make their stage debut. Their show, as yet untitled, will open at the Orchard theatre in Dartford on 10th April, to be followed by a tour and possibly the West End. It will be an original story written by Andy Dawson, who created the Thunderbirds stage show, and the producer is John Gore.

The City Loft Company is offering an unusual incentive to would be purchasers - become a theatre "angel" free. If you exchange contracts before 31st January, you will receive 1 unit (worth a 1000 investment) in Scissor Happy, a comedy promoted by one of CLC's directors. The show is looking to exchange contracts on a West End home in the spring.

There is a swift return to Royal Court Upstairs at the Ambassadors theatre for Shopping And Fucking, Mark Ravenhill's controversial first play about educated but unemployable twentysomethings. Hype overdrive meant that initial season instantly sold out the tiny venue. This time it runs from 7th January to 1st February. If it's your idea of a good time, better hurry. Or you could stay home and watch the more approachable twentysomethings in Friends