News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd September 1999

It is confirmed that the current Broadway production of Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman will open at the Old Vic on 25th January. Tony Award winning stars Brian Dennehy and Elizabeth Franz will play a twelve week season. The fiftieth anniversary production of the definitive play about the American Dream, arguably the most influential American play of the century, is directed by Robert Falls.

After a season of competing Antony And Cleopatra's we are now in for a King Learfest. The previously mentioned Royal Shakespeare Company production with Nigel Hawthorne, also features Robin Weaver, Sian Thomas, Anna Chancellor, Heoyuki Sanada and Michael Maloney. Directed by Youki Ninagawa, it is about to open in Japan, followed by the Barbican and then Stratford. Tom Courtenay steals in first at the Royal Exchange Manchester, from 14th September to 23rd October. The cast there includes Gillian Kearney, Helen Schlesinger, Ashley Jensen, Ian Bartholomew and David Tennant. Royal Exchange artistic director Gregory Hersov directs.

NetAid, an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme will bring the internet, television and radio together with major recording artists, to help end extreme poverty. On 9th October, three overlapping NetAid concerts, at Giants Stadium in New York, Wembley Stadium in London and The Palais des Nations in Geneva, will be relayed live, to what is hoped will be the world's biggest ever audience. The currently scheduled list of performers includes David Bowie, Bush, The Coors, Celine Dion, Eurythmics, George Michael, Stereophonics, Pete Townshend and Robbie Williams. A link from the home page of TheatreNet will appear nearer to the concert date.

The 10th British Festival Of Visual Theatre runs from 1st to 24th October. Events include the return of Scarlet Theatre's Princess Sharon and Improbable Theatre's Animo, plus new work from cutting edge companies across the performance arts spectrum, through dance, text based theatre, design, improvisation and puppetry. Full details from the individual venues taking part, which are: Battersea Arts Centre, Lion & Unicorn Pub Theatre, South Bank Centre, Toynbee Studios and Young Vic Studio.

Jessica Martin stars in a one woman musical, Blame It On My Youth, at New End Theatre Hampstead from 5th to 31st October. Written by Stewart Permutt, Robert Howie and Jessica Martin, it is the biography of a fictitious American musical theatre legend. The director is Robert Howie, and the producers are B&R Productions and Pluto Productions. Running in tandem, in a mid evening slot at the same venue, from the same producers, is Barney - The Care In The Community Comic, written by Stewart Permutt. Hindered by a jealous friend and a confused motorcycle courier, Barney Parsons, the Day Centre Dynamo, bares all. It features Stewart Permutt, Stuart Mullen and Stephen McCarthy, and is directed by Christine Harmer-Brown.

Mike Leigh's new film is about Gilbert and Sullivan, and the trials and tribulations surrounding original production of The Mikado by the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company. To use a suitably Gilbertian phrase, it is "a most curious paradox", that although the Arts Council has invested £2m in Leigh's film, it is still refusing to fund D'Oyly Carte to perform the actual shows. D'OC had planned a new production of The Mikado, to take advantage of the publicity, but this is now unlikely to happen. Although the company has had a chequered history, it has sharpened up its act recently (both artistically and financially) and as holder of the G&S torch, now deserves a break. If the Arts Council will fund its other clients' G&S productions, then surely it should encourage the specialist.

The Theatre Royal Haymarket is holding a second season of its Masterclasses, for young people who have an interest in theatre, or are keen to pursue a career in the arts. Sessions begin at 2.30pm, and last around two hours, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, over a five week period starting on 20th September. They are open to people aged 16 and over, and are free of charge - but there is a refundable deposit required confirming the booking. The all star line up consists of: Peter Barnes, Samuel West, Paul Elliot, Maureen Lipman, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Maria Friedman, Dillie Keane, David Hare, Juliet Stevenson, Francis De La Tour, Geoffrey Colman and John Sessions. Details from the co-ordinator on 0171 321 0525.

John Gay's Beggar's Opera, in a new version by Justin Gregson with Adrian Jackson, will play at the Bridewell Theatre from 30th September to 23rd October. Set in the underworld of 18th century London, it is a satirical tale of self-interest, public corruption and vice. Considered by some to be the first British musical, it was the source for Brecht and Weill's The Threepenny Opera. The director is Adrian Jackson, and the producers are Cardboard Citizens and English National Opera.

Swing!, a new show which is set to do for the music of the '30's and '40's, what Smokey Joe's Café did for the '50's, will open at St James Theatre in New York on 9th December. Supervised by Jerry Zaks, who created the Leiber and Stoller show, it will be directed and choreographed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett. Ann Hampton Callaway heads the singers, with Lindy Hop and Latin dance champions, joining a company of veteran Broadway gypsies.

Jane Lapotaire is to tour as Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's performance play Masterclass. It uses the premise of the masterclasses, which the singer gave in her later years, as a framework for recollections of the high points of her career. Although "Callas" does not sing, it includes opera excerpts performed by her "students". Di Trevis directs, and the producers are Theatre Royal Bath and Fat Chance Productions.

BBC is starting a season of seventeen Shakespeare plays, to be broadcast Radio 3, and released on cassette. The first group, which will go out on succeeding Sundays starting on 12th September, is: Hamlet with Michael Sheen and Juliet Stevenson; A Midsummer Night's Dream with Sylvestra Le Touzel and Richard Griffiths; Julius Caesar with Gerard Murphy, Stella Gonet and Nicholas Farrell; and Romeo And Juliet with Douglas Henshall, Sophie Dhal and Susannah York. The next group will be transmitted in the spring.