Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
It's Official! As previously forecast here, Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, the comedy in which a vaudeville double act that broke up in acrimony is reunited for a television special, with Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths, directed by Thea Sharrock, will open at the Savoy Theatre on 17th May. The producers are Sonia Friedman Productions and Richard Willis.
It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Chichester Festival Theatre double bill of Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version, about a cowed schoolmaster who finds the courage to make a stand against his bullying headmaster and his unfaithful wife, directed by Angus Jackson, and David Hare's South Downs, in which a pupil is cut off from the rest of the school by virtue of his own intellect and questioning spirit, directed by Jeremy Herrin, with Anna Chancellor, Nicholas Farrell, Jonathan Bailey, Andrew Woodall, Mark Umbers, Amanda Fairbank-Hynes, Bradley Hall, Rob Heaps, Alex Lawther and Liam Morton, will open at the Harold Pinter Theatre on 24th April. The producers are Playful Productions, Neal Street and Robert Fox.
Willy Russell's Educating Rita, in which a hairdresser takes an Open University course in English Literature with a disenchanted professor, with Claire Sweeney and Matthew Kelly, directed by Tamara Harvey, will open a national tour at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark, on 25th April.
The spring/summer season at the Hampstead Theatre at Swiss Cottage, will include Chariots Of Fire, adapted by Mike Bartlett from the 1981 film telling the story of two very different British athletes competing in the 1924 Paris Olympics, directed by Edward Hall, from 9th May; the Druid theatre company production of Tom Murphy's trilogy of telling the epic tale of Irish emigration from 1846 to 1980, comprising Famine, Conversations On A Homecoming and A Whistle In The Dark, directed by Gary Hines, from 20th June; and the all male Propeller theatre company's productions of Shakespeare's Henry V and A Winter's Tale, directed by Edward Hall, from 3rd July.
New York TheatreNet: The award winning 2010 Regents Park Open Air Theatre production of the musical Into The Woods, book by James Lapine, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, in which characters from a number of fairytales don't live happily ever after, directed by Timothy Shreader and Liam Steel, will be part of the Public Theater's 50th anniversary Shakespeare in the Park season at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.
The Young Vic will stage Patrick Marber's After Miss Julie, which relocates August Strinberg's play - a sexual liaison between a footman and his master's daughter - to a country house in Britain on the night of the Labour party's groundbreaking General Election victory in 1945, with Natalie Dormer, Kieran Bew and Polly Frame, directed by Natalie Abrahami, opening on 24th March.
The New York Elevator Repair Service production of Gatz, in which, in the office of a mysterious small business, an employee starts to read F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and doesn't stop, with Scott Shepherd heading a cast of 13, who become the characters in the story, directed by John Collins, an 8 hour marathon, with two intermissions and a dinner break, will play a season at the Noel Coward Theatre from 8th June to 15th July, as part of the London International Festival of Theatre.
The Old Vic production of Michael Frayn's Noises Off, showing the onstage and behind the scenes travails of a group of actors performing in a touring production of a farce, with Celia Imrie, Janie Dee, Jonathan Coy, Robert Glenister, Paul Ready, Karl Johnson and Jamie Glover, directed by Lindsay Posner, will transfer to the Novello Theatre from 24th March.
Despite the economic situation, stock market crash, strikes, riots, looting and the Euro crisis, figures released by the Society Of London Theatre reveal that West End theatre enjoyed a record breaking year in 2011. Box office revenue totaled £528,375,874, up 3.13% from the previous record of £512,331,808 in 2010, generating £88,062,646 in VAT for the Treasury, while there were 13,915185 tickets sold, the 3rd highest figure ever, and the number of performances, at 18,061 was the 2nd highest ever. Plays achieved a record attendance total of 3,784,975, 2% up on 2010, Musicals attendance was 8,176,752, 3% down, and attendance of Others (Opera, Dance and Entertainment) was 1,953,458, down 4%. As in previous recessions, it seems that the Great British Public is showing a 'determination to be entertained', with domestic 'staycations', and foreign visitors encouraged by the fall in the Pound, boosting attendances.
On The Casting Couch: Jill Halfpenny will be joined by Andy Nyman, Natalie Casey, Joe Absolom and Susannah Harker in Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory on 8th March.
Stage One is holding another Workshop For New Producers from 26th to 28th April. This is an intensive course for anyone planning to produce or co-produce in theatre. The aim is to provide detailed information on how to set up a production at a regional theatre and bring it into the West End, for those who have not previously produced commercial plays, or have only limited experience, but possess a firm commitment to a career in theatre production. Sessions will include: acquiring rights, budgeting, co-producing, booking a tour, finding and contracting a theatre, marketing, publicity and press. The closing date for applications is 17th February. Further information and an application form can be found on the SO web site via link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.