News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd March 2000

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton's The Beautiful Game will receive its world premiere on 19th September at the Cambridge Theatre, now part of the Really Useful Group empire. The show centres on a Belfast amateur football team, set against the backdrop of the religious conflict. It will be directed by Robert Carsen, choreographed by Meryl Tankard, and produced by the Really Useful Theatre Company.

SFX, the American company which bought Apollo Theatres last year, has merged with (or effectively been taken over by) Clear Channel Communications in a $4bn deal. By an aggressive programme of acquisition, SFX has become a major world force in sport, music and theatre, producing and managing 26,000 shows and events last year, owning 122 venues, and representing 650 professional athletes. Clear Channel operates 867 radio and 19 television stations in America, reaching over 120 million people weekly. It also owns more than 550,000 outdoor advertising displays, and has equity interests in more than 240 radio stations, in 32 countries around the world. The motivation behind the deal appears to be for Clear Channel to secure live music and sport events for transmission across its radio, television and future internet outlets. There doesn't seem to be a place for British theatres to fit in.

The National Theatre is to present late night (well at 10.00pm it's late-ish) cabaret in its Terrace Cafe. Henry Goodman is devising, directing and appearing in Kabarett Metropolis, a mix of satire and song inspired by the ups and downs of London life. John Mortimer, Carol Ann Duffy, Irma Kurtz, Meera Syal, and Arthur Smith are among the writers contributing pieces. The company will include Anna Francolini, Dawn Hope, Peter Polycarpou, Jenna Russell and Paul Sharma, plus guest appearances by performers from West End shows. Performances are on Friday and Saturday nights for four weeks starting on 17th March.

The Donmar Warehouse continues to attract the big names for its revival of Peter Nichols' Passion Play opening on 18th April. Flavour of the month director Michael Grandage has at his disposal: Gillian Barge, Cheryl Campbell, Martin Jarvis, James Laurenson, Cherie Lunghi and Nicola Walker. A husband's infidelity, and the appearance of the couple's alter egos, disturb a seemingly happy marriage with tragi-comic consequences.

Celebration, a charity gala honouring the work of choreographer Christopher Gable, former Royal Ballet dancer and Artistic Director of Northern Ballet Theatre, will be staged at Sadler's Wells on 12th March. Among the dancers scheduled to appear are Altynai Asylmuratova, Adam Cooper, Irek Mukhamedov, Wayne Sleep and Sarah Wildor, together with actors Tom Courtenay and Simon Williams. Proceeds will go to the Christopher Gable Dance-Drama Trust.

The Abbey Theatre Dublin's production of Frank McGuinness' Dolly West's Kitchen will transfer to the Old Vic on 4th May. Patrick Mason directs a new cast for British premiere of the play, set in Donegal during the Second World War.

There are a number of Sign Language Interpreted performances of West End shows scheduled in the next six months, under a Society Of London Theatre/Arts Council New Audiences initiative. Those confirmed are: The Phantom Of The Opera 28th March, Speed-the-Plow 13th April, the Reduced Shakespeare Company's The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged) 29th April, Passion Play 11th May, The Mousetrap 6th July, Orpheus Descending 29th July, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest 3rd August. Theatres generally offer a disabled discount, but contact the individual venues for details. There is further disability information in the Box Office section of TheatreNet.

Paul Gambaccini, the radio presenter (that's the polite term for disc jockey's who are too old for the job) has co-written a musical with Alastair King and Jane Edith Wilson, called The Ultimate Man. It will be given readings on 12th and 13th March at the Drill Hall.

Jim Carter has injured himself (presumably training) and has been forced to withdraw from Hard Fruit, Jim Cartwright's new play about karate-obsessed, ambi-sexual hard men in a northern town, opening on 6th April at the Royal Court Theatre. The cast will now be Nicholas Woodeson, Alan Gear, Richard Hope, Gary Grant, Barry Howard and Hilda Braid. Juliet Stevenson will star in Martin Crimp's The Country which follows at the Court on 16th May.

After The Fair, a musical with book and lyrics by Stephen Cole, and music by Matthew Ward, will receive its British premiere at the King's Head Theatre on 15th March. An Off Broadway and American regional theatre hit, it is based on a short story by Thomas Hardy, about a maid and her mistress falling for the same man. It features Nicola Dewdney, Terrence Hardman, Robert Irons and Rebecca Lock, and is directed by Raymond Wright. The producers are Ballantrae, and Sally Vaughan & Richard Jordan.

American comedy film actor Leslie Nielsen is starring in a one man show as the legendary defence lawyer Clarence Darrow. It opens at Theatre Royal Lincoln on 14th March, prior to a national tour and possible West End season. Based on Irving Stone's book Clarence Darrow For The Defence, it is written by David W Rintels. Darrow defended 104 men facing the death penalty, including the case of Leopold and Leob, and none were executed. The producer is Charles Stephens.

The Rumour Machine says: that Jeffrey Archer will star in his own new play The Accused in the West End this autumn, directed by David Gilmore, playing a doctor who is accused of poisoning his wife over a seven year period, and finds that he is up against the evidence of his own mistress; that Oliver Tobias will play King Roderick in the musical La Cava at the Victoria Palace (likely to be this year's Tess Of The D'Urbevilles); and that Oxford Stage Company's touring production of Troilus And Cressida is West End bound. The Rumour Machine grinds on.