News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd August 2007

Once again there is an extravagance of premieres in the 29th Dance Umbrella, running from 3rd October to 10th November, presenting the best of national and international contemporary dance, with 20 companies performing at venues across London. Highlights include: Isaac Julien and Russell Maliphant's Cast No Shadow, a multimedia event capturing the sensation of bodies negotiating three different alien landscapes - the Arctic, Africa and the sea; Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company from Israel performing Shaker, evoking a snow globe, with a score combining Chopin, Purcell, Gavin Bryars and Arvo Part, with Swedish folk music, and songs from the 1950s performed by Japanese pop artists; Australian Splintergroup with Roadkill, about a couple stranded in the outback and the arrival of an unwelcome stranger, part road movie, part excavation into urban legend and paranoia; and for the first time, two free events taking place outdoors, Compagnie Beau Geste from France presenting Transports Exceptionnels, a duet for man and digger at Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank, and Canadian Paul-Andre Fortier dancing his Solo 30x30 outside Liverpool Street Station every day for 30 days. Full details of programmes and venues can be found on the Dance Umbrella web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, a reworked small scale production of the musical Rent, Jonathan Larson's contemporary reworking of La Boheme, which relocated the action in the East Village in New York in the early 1990s, with aids standing in for consumption, will open at the Duke of York's Theatre on 16th October. The revised version, directed by pop concert stager William Baker, will be shorter, and no longer time and location specific. The company will comprise Siobhan Donaghy, Luke Evans, Oliver Thornton, Leon Lopez, Jay Webb, Francesca Jackson, Craig Stein, Ruth Augilera, Jamie Sampson, Antony Luperi, Earl Perkins, Lewis Griffiths and Philippa Stefani. The producers are the Ambassador Theatre Group, Tulbart Productions and Michael Brenner.

Welsh National Opera's autumn season will open at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 22nd September. It features the world premiere of James MacMillan's The Sacrifice, libretto by Michael Symmons Roberts, the story of a ruler's ultimate sacrifice to safeguard the future of his war torn, faction ridden country, inspired by the mythical world of The Mabinogion, a collection of ancient Welsh folktales, directed by Katie Mitchell, with Christopher Purves, Lisa Milne, Sarah Tynan, Peter Hoare and Leigh Melrose; and new productions of Rossini's La Cenerentola, directed by Joan Font, created with the Barcelona based Comediants theatre company; and Verdi's Aida, directed by John Caird, with Zvetelina Vassileva, Dennis O'Neill, Alexandru Agache and David Soar; plus a concert double bill, Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky, and Errollyn Wallen's Carbon 12, text by John Binias, a celebration in music and song of South Wales's history, landscape and people. The season also sees the return of Verdi's Il trovatore, directed by Peter Watson; Mozart's The Magic Flute, directed by Dominic Cooke; Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, directed by James Macdonald; Verdi's Falstaff, directed by Peter Stein; and Humperdinck's Hansel And Gretel, directed by Richard Jones.

On The Casting Couch: Jonathan Pryce and Aidan Gillen will be joined by Matthew Marsh, Paul Freeman, Shane Attwooll, Anthony Flanagan and Tom Smith in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross opening at the Apollo Theatre on 10th October.

The CandoCo Dance Company's autumn tour, featuring a double bill of new works, comprising Arthur Pita's The Stepfather, inspired by country and death songs, and Rafael Bonachela's And Who Shall Go To The Ball?, set to new music by Scott Walker, performed by the London Sinfonietta, will open at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 25th September.

The autumn season at Greenwich Theatre will include: Tall Stories Theatre Company's production of Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchell's stage adaptation of The Gruffalo's Child, Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler's follow up to their children's picture book The Gruffalo, which continues the story of the mouse and the monster, performed by Felix Hayes, Abbey Norman and Yvette Clutterbuck, directed by Michael Cabot; from the Edinburgh Fringe, the premiere production of Douglas Maxwell's The Ballad of James II, the story of James II of Scotland and his struggle to defend the throne, a co-production with NonsenseRoom; Hull Truck Theatre Company's legendary production of Bouncers, written and directed by John Godber, in which four actors play forty characters between them (female as well as male) in the story of a night out in a Northern nightclub; the London premiere of the musical Dear Brutus, adapted from J M Barrie's midsummer night fantasy of unhappy couples finding true love in the Arcadian woods, music by Julian Slade, lyrics by Kit Hesketh-Harvey; Lisa's Sex Strike, Northern Broadsides 'e bah gum' style rendition of Blake Morrison's re-working of Aristophanes's Lysistrata, directed by Conrad Nelson; Red Shift with a 90 minute version of Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Jonathan Holloway; Lip Service (aka Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding) in Jane Bond, a 21st century female spy with work/life balance and child care issues; and Dick Whittington, by Andrew Pollard (who also plays dame), directed by Kieron Smith.

Alan Ayckborn's A Small Family Business, about family values in a society obsessed with material things, with Nathan Amzi, Michael Garner, Eliot Giuralarocca, Clive Hayward, David Holt, Ian Lindsay, Ian Lindsay, Cherith Mellor, Claire Parrish, Jonty Stephens, Zoe Thorne, Josie Walker and Barbara Wilshere, directed by Christopher Luscombe, will open at the Palace Theatre Watford on 25th September.

Edward Fox will star in Legal Fictions, a double bill of plays by John Mortimer, comprising Dock Brief, in which an incompetent barrister represents a man who has murdered his wife, and Edwin, in which retired High Court Judge still sits in judgment on people in his imagination, directed by Christopher Morahan, which opens a prospective pre West End tour at the Theatre Royal Bath on 6th November.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark will revive Jerry Herman's musical La Cage Aux Folles at Christmas; that The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, an Australian stage adaptation of the 1994 film, has ambitions to follow Dirty Dancing to London; that Alan Bennett's The History Boys may return to Wyndham's Theatre, following an autumn tour, once again featuring Desmond Barrit; and that producer David Pugh is hoping to transfer the new Kneehigh Theatre-West Yorkshire Playhouse-Birmingham Repertory Theatre staging of Brief Encounter, adapted from David Lean's 1945 film based on the Noel Coward play Still Life, to the West End. The Rumour Machine grinds on.