News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd March 2006

In this year's Olivier Awards the main honours were divided up between Billy Elliot, taking Best Musical, the original Billy's James Lomas, Liam Mower and George Maguire - Best Musical Actor, Peter Darling - Best Choreographer, and Paul Arditti - Best Sound Design; and Hedda Gabler, winning Best Revival, Eve Best - Best Play Actress, Richard Eyre - Best Director, and Rob Howell - Best Set Design. Other highlights were Guys And Dolls: Outstanding Musical Production, and Jane Krakowski - Best Musical Actress; Death Of A Salesman: Brian Dennehy - Best Play Actor; and On The Shore Of The Wide World - Best New Play. Disgracefully, once again this year there was no television coverage of the presentations ceremony of Britain's premier theatre awards, but full details can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite and below.

The Royal Court Theatre production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie, performed by Megan Dodds, directed by Alan Rickman, will open at the Playhouse Theatre, on 30th March. The 'factional' one person play was developed by Rickman and Katharine Viner from the writing of the American protester who perished beneath a bulldozer as she protected a Palestinian home. The production was scheduled to receive its American premiere at the New York Theatre Workshop in March, but that has been cancelled due to a cave in to political pressure by the NYTW management. It will be presented by David Johnson and Virginia Buckley.

This year's Peter Hall Company season at the Theatre Royal in Bath will run from 21st June to 2nd September, and will comprise: Measure For Measure, with Andrea Riseborough, James Laurenson and Richard Dormer, directed for the first time by Peter Hall, which will transfer to Stratford upon Avon for the RSC's Complete Works Festival; August Strindberg's Miss Julie, the erotically charged encounter between a mistress and her servant, with Andrea Riseborough and Richard Dormer, directed by Rachel O'Riordan; Alan Bennett's Habeas Corpus, a comic exploration of permissiveness in 1960s Brighton, with James Fleet, directed by Hall; and the 50th anniversary production of John Osborne's Look Back In Anger, the play that launched 'kitchen sink drama' with the original 'angry young man', directed by Peter Gill.

Robert Bathurst and Nicolas Tennant will star in Fabrice Roger-Lacan's French comedy Members Only, translated by Christopher Campbell, directed by Marianne Badrichani, when receives its British premiere at the Trafalgar Studios 2 from 3rd to 22nd April. It is the story of how two lifelong friends and business partners fall out, sparked off by conflicting dinner arrangements.

The 51st National Student Drama Festival takes place in Scarborough from 1st to 7th April, open to everyone: colleges, youth theatres, community organisations and universities. Last year's Festival comprised 16 shows, chosen from 84 entries. Entrants can embrace all styles and themes, from devised work to modern classics, from musical theatre to new writing, and from physical theatre to the great classic drama of the past. In addition to performances, the Festival also has an extensive programme of over 200 workshops, masterclasses, debates, street theatre and other events. Last year's participants included Richard Wilson, Willy Russell, Prunella Scales, Glen Walford, Timothy West, Robert Hewison and Samuel West, as well as companies such as Frantic Assembly, Puppet Centre Trust, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Walk The Plank and Graeae Theatre Company, together with Scarborough's Cultural Godfather, Alan Ayckbourn. During the Festival, the town assumes the mantle of a mini Edinburgh Fringe, as a variety of venues become performance spaces. Further information can be found on the NSDF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch at Shakespeare's Globe: Jonathan Cake will play Coriolanus, Douglas Hodge Titus Andronicus, and Frances Barber Cleopatra in Antony And Cleopatra, with a company that will include Robin Soans, Shaun Parkes and Sarah Woodward.

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre has announced its new season, which will include the world premiere of Promises And Lies, a musical featuring the music of UB40, with a book by Jess Walters, a story of people battling against the odds to survive on the edge of society, with Julie-Alanah Brighten, David Burt, Anthony Cable, Paul Clarkson, Tameka Empson, Ryan Gage, Natasha Lewis, John Marquez, Martin Milnes, Clive Rowe, Sharon Wattis and Remi Wilson, directed by Jonathan Church; Simon Callow in Noel Coward's Present Laughter, about the home life of a flamboyant actor in the 1920s, directed by Michael Rudman; Howard Brenton and David Hare's Pravda, a satire on the power of Fleet Street press barons of the 1980s, directed by Jonathan Church, co-produced with Chichester Festival Theatre; Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, dramatised by Christopher Sergal, the story of a white lawyer who defends a young black man falsely accused of raping a white woman in the American south in the 1930s; and a musical version of Lewis Carrol's Alice In Wonderland, book and lyrics by John Wells, music by Carl Davis, directed by Ian Brown with choreography by Sam Spencer-Lane.

A Passion For Performance: Performing Arts In The 20th Century, the latest exhibition at the National Theatre, features wild and energetic images of performing arts and artists of the last century, selected from Getty Images's archive by Nicholas Hytner. Onstage and backstage, in performance and in rehearsal, an extraordinary array of talent from music hall, theatre, opera and dance is shown in this collection of evocative photographs, all of which are for sale. The display runs until 1st April.

The Society Of London Theatre and the Theatrical Managers Association are inviting further applications for the Rupert Rhymes Bursary. The award of 2,000 is to enable individuals at an early stage of a career in theatre production or administration to undertake a theatre project that falls outside other funding schemes - for example, to develop skills in an international context. For further information and an application form, send an A4 SAE to The Presidents of SOLT and TMA, c/o Stage One, 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET. The closing date for this round of applications is 31st March.

The Rumour Machine says: that the current Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Crucible, with Iain Glen and Elaine Cassidy, will transfer to the West End courtesy of Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt; that Dolly Parton is adapting the film Nine To Five as a musical, with Broadway in mind; and that Jeremy Sams will direct a revised version of Michael Frayn's comedy about academic skulduggery Donkey's Years in the West End this summer. The Rumour Machine grinds on.