News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd September 2004

Edinburgh Fringe Report: Once again ticket sales broke all previous records at 1.25m, a 13% rise on last year. However, as there were 25,326 performances of 1,695 shows in 236 venues this year - up from 21,594 performances of 1,541 shows in 207 venues last year - the average attendance per show fell to 49 from 55, so it may be that the number of Fringe shows has finally reached saturation point. Overall audience winners appear to be The Stand Comedy Club with a 38% increase in ticket sales, the Underbelly with box office takings up 29%, and the Assembly Rooms with a total audience of over 205,000 people. The top seller was One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, which was already announced to transfer to the Gilegud Theatre later this month.

The New Ambassadors Theatre is to host Edinburgh Exported, a best of the Fringe season, combining theatre, cabaret and comedy running in repertory, from 9th September to 9th October. The main events will be: The Translucent Frogs Of Quuup, a comedy with songs by Chris Larner, with Jonathan Robbins and Rosalie Craig as a Surbiton couple who take a canoe up the Amazon in search of adventure; Population: 3's The Elephant Woman, a comedy inspired by The Elephant Man, telling the tale of Miss Anella Phant, directed by David Sant; Gone, Glyn Cannon's contemporary reworking of Antigone, directed by Hannah Eidinow; and A Comedy Of Arias, by Ian Bloomfield and Jonathan Guy Lewis, the story of the troubled opening of an opera inspired cafe, featuring opera's greatest hits. Late night cabaret and comedy will include Joanna Neary, Ed Byrne, Scott Capurro, Lee Mack, Richard Herring, Jason Byrne, The Consultants, Jimeoin, Brendon Burns and Craig Hill. The season is presented by Sonia Friedman Productions.

Also making its way south from Edinburgh, the Australian 'adult' cabaret show Puppetry Of The Penis, featuring the original cast of David Friend and Simon Morley, will play a three week season at the Apollo Theatre from 4th October. The show will be preceded by stand up from Hattie Hayridge.

As Wilkie Collins mania grips the nation, an adaptation of his novel The Haunted Hotel, by Philip Dart and Val May (who also directs), opens a regional tour at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester on 6th September. Brian Blessed, Elizabeth Counsell and Lynette McMorrough star in the tale set in an empty theatre, where an impresario has summoned a troupe of players to enact a ghost story for a private performance - deja vu all over again for those who have seen The Woman In Black. It is a co-production by the Mercury Theatre, the Theatre Royal Windsor and Ivan Hale.

The 26th Dance Umbrella, running from 5th October to 27th November, presents the best of national and international contemporary dance at venues across London. Highlights include: UK premieres of: the Merce Cunningham Dance Company with the of Split Sides, a collaboration with Radiohead and Sigur Ros, in which a roll of dice determines the choreography, music and costume; Pick Up Performance Company with David Gordon performing his dance adaptation of Ionesco's The Chairs with Valda Setterfield; and the Mark Morris Dance Company's The Hard Nut, which transposes Hoffmann's Christmas story to 1960s America; plus Foundation Jean-Pierre Perreault with Joe, in which 32 dancers in overcoats, fedoras and heavy boots march, stomp, strut, run, roll and leap 'a cappella'. Full details of programmes and venues can be found on the Dance Umbrella web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Acting My Life, Ian Holm's autobiography (although Steven Jacobi did the writing down bit) recently published by Bantam, is a detailed - if bewildered - account of the personal and professional life of one of our greatest and most versatile actors. Against the headlines of Holm's fifty year career, which has embraced everything from Shakespeare to Pinter with equal success, come the details that has been five times married, and suffered a breakdown during a production of The Iceman Cometh, which left him with stage fright that kept him out of the theatre for many years. It is a candid and often funny mix of anecdote and observation on the highs and lows of a life lived on stage and screen.

As the picnic hampers and travel rugs are packed away for another year, Glyndebourne Touring Opera takes to the road until December, following a launch mini season of performances on its home turf from 5th to 23rd October. The repertoire comprises: this season's new production of Mozart's The Magic Flute directed by Adrian Noble; Debussey's Pelleas et Melisande directed by Graham Vick; and David McVicar's 2000 production of Puccini's La boheme.

The Musicians Benevolent Fund has added an Awards Wizard to its web site. It helps students, parents and teachers search through the various resources available to assist with the funding of study projects for gifted musicians, and identifies the appropriate ones through a straightforward questionnaire. Among the MBF's own awards for which applications close in the next few weeks, there are sums of up to 4,000 available in the fields of jazz, song creation, violin and cello. Further information can be found on the MBF web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet

The Rumour Machine says: that Martin Shaw will make a rare theatre appearance as Thomas More in Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons next year; that TV actor Joshua Jackson may be the next American to grace the West End stage; and that Helen Mirren is to return to the National Theatre late next year in a yet to be revealed play. The Rumour Machine grinds on.