News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd May 2002

Donmar Warehouse is setting a cracking pace with its American Imports season, as the second production, Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero is set follow the first in transferring. It will open at the New Ambassadors Theatre on 26th June, with the original cast of David Tennant, Charlotte Randle, Gary McDonald and Dominic Rowan, directed by Mark Brokaw. It tells the story of a security guard who is drawn into a murder investigation by just trying to be helpful to everyone.

National Theatre artistic director designate Nicholas Hytner revealed some of his plans for encouraging new writing at the launch of Mercury Musical Developments, the new organisation formed by the merger of The Mercury Workshop and New Musicals Alliance. He intends the Cottesloe to be entirely devoted to new work, with probably eight productions a year, and for musical theatre to be treated as seriously as plays. Hytner is particularly keen to develop new forms by fostering the fusion of physical theatre and dance with musical theatre writers. Mercury Musical Developments offers information and support to writers and composers in musical theatre, and is committed to creating exciting new works for the 21st century. In addition to welcoming new writing associates, membership now embraces theatre associates, to encourage the participation of theatre companies, producers, directors, publishers and other practitioners. Full details can be found on the MMD web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

A new staging of Follies, with book by James Goldman, and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, will play at the Royal Festival Hall from 6th to 31st August. A reunion of the Weisman Follies girls at their old theatre on the eve of its destruction brings back pleasant memories and bittersweet ghosts from their pasts. The cast will include Desmond Barrit, Jody Crosier and Kathryn Evans, directed by Paul Kerryson, and produced by Raymond Gubbay.

Cirque du Soleil is returning to its original London home of the Royal Albert Hall for its next season, after a couple of years pitching its Grand Chapiteau tent at Battersea Power Station. It will present Saltimbanco, the longest running show in its repertoire, from 7th to 26th January. The show features the company's unique mixture of circus skills, music and special effects. Cirque du Soleil is currently staging seven shows on three continents, and over 30 million people have seen its productions since Guy Laliberte founded the company in Montreal in 1984.

English National Opera has announced its next season, during which, as the restoration of the Coliseum continues, concert performances will be staged at the Barbican, in the autumn of 2002 and 2003. New productions include: Puccini's Tosca with Cheryl Barker and John Hudson, directed by David McVicar; Berlioz The Trojans directed by Richard Jones - The Capture Of Troy, with Susan Bickley and John Daszak, and The Trojans At Carthage, with Susan Parry and John Daszak; and the British premiere of The Handmaid's Tale by Poul Ruders, with Stephanie Marshall, directed by Phyllida Lloyd. Revivals include: David Alden's production of Wagner's Tristan And Isolde with David Rendall and Susan Bulloc; Francesca Zambello's production of Musorgsky's Khovanshchina with John Tomlinson, Willard White and Pavlo Hunka; Nicholas Hytner's production of Handel's Xerxes with Sarah Connolly; David McVicar's production of Handel's Alcina; with Lisa Milne; and Jonathan Miller's productions of The Barber Of Seville, Der Rosenkavalier, and Rigoletto. Full details can be found on the ENO web site via the link from the Dance, Opera & Orchestras section of TheatreNet.

A new musical, Robin Hood: The Legend Continues, with book by Thomas Meehan, lyrics and direction by Martin Charnin, and music by Canadian composer Peter Sipos, has had a private workshop in New York. The action takes place some twenty years after the period of the usual Sherwood Forest tales, with Robin at 50 returning from the Crusades, regretting that he doesn't have a son to carry on the tradition - only to find that he and Marion have a 15 year old daughter. The show is looking for a try-out at a regional theatre next season, and Broadway thereafter.

On The Casting Couch: Maria Aitken, Adrian Scarborough, Anna Calder-Marshall, Sophie Duval and Peter Blythe will be the new cast in Charlotte Jones Humble Boy at the Gielgud Theatre from 9th June. They will join William Gaunt who remains, but will be playing a different role to his present one. The director is John Caird.

The 24th Association of British Theatre Technicians Theatre Show takes place at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London on 19th and 20th June. As usual it will feature the products of leading lighting, sound and staging manufacturers, costume, prop and scenery makers, and suppliers of seating and soft furnishings, box office and IT systems, print and publicity, insurance and legal services. There will also be a free seminar programme and presentations of the ABTT and Stage Management Association Awards. An associated international conference, Theatre Engineering and Architecture 2002, precedes it at the Strand Palace Hotel from 16th to 18th June. This aims to bring together theatre technicians, architects, consultants, scenic and lighting designers, stage and building services engineers, and acousticians, as well as building owners, new clients and project managers to pool their knowledge. Further information and online registration can be found on the ABTT web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

The Theatre Museum, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in Covent Garden on 23rd April, is planning to move all its archive to the main Olympia store of its parent, the Victoria & Albert Museum. This should result in better facilities for researchers, with easier access and a bigger study room. The museum also hopes to expand its National Video Archive of Stage Performance, with more opera and dance productions. Currently there are recordings of 128 shows, most of which are plays. The latest additions to the archive are the Young Vic production of Doctor Faustus, Humble Boy and My Fair Lady.

The Rumour Machine says: that Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais are working on a stage musical based on the film Jailhouse Rock; that Gillian Anderson will play in What The Night Is For, a new work by prolific American playwright Michael Weller, in the West End in October; that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black are planning a makeover for the Song part of their Song And Dance show for Denise Van Outen, with the West End in mind; and that current 'director to the stars' Laurence Boswell is working on his own stage adaptation of Dostoevsky's The Idiot to star Paul Rhys. The Rumour Machine grinds on.