News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd October 2003

Michael Boyd has announced his inaugural season as artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which starts at Stratford in March and has a back to basics theme. In the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, four tragedies will be performed by an ensemble company of 36 actors: Macbeth, with Greg Hicks and Sian Thomas, directed by Dominic Cooke; Romeo And Juliet, directed by Peter Gill; Corin Redgrave as King Lear, directed by Bill Alexander; and Toby Stephens as Hamlet, with Sian Thomas, directed by Michael Boyd. In the Swan, four rarely seen Spanish plays by Shakespeare's contemporaries will be performed by an ensemble of 20 actors: Lope de Vega's The Dog In The Manger, directed by Laurence Boswell; Tirso de Molina's The Vengeance, directed by Simon Usher; Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz's House Of Desires, directed by Nancy Meckler; and Miguel Cervantes Pedro, The Great Pretender, directed by Mike Alfreds.

Meanwhile the already announced production of All's Well That End Well with Judi Dench, Claudie Blakely, Jamie Glover and Guy Henry, directed by Gregory Doran, which plays at the Swan from 3rd December to 7th February will transfer to the Gielgud Theatre on 18th February. Next September the RSC will launch an annual New Work Festival in Stratford, with new plays, devised work and experimental productions of Shakespeare, together with rehearsed readings, improvised performances and other events, including world premieres of Poor Beck by Joanna Laurens; Midwinter by Zinnie Harris; and Pontius Pilate, a devised work inspired by the book by Anne Wroe, directed by Michael Boyd.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, cabaret trio Fascinating Aida will finally lay their act to rest, after a twenty year career of dispensing wit and wisdom in song on love, life and anything else that that took their fancy, with One Last Flutter at the Comedy Theatre from 12th November to 6th December. Dillie Keane - prime mover, principal writer, and the only member to have stayed the entire course - and Adele Anderson are rejoined by Marilyn Cutts for the final hurrah. New numbers taking a satirical swipe today's preoccupations will jostle for attention with some of their best loved songs from the past. In celebration FA have splashed out on musician Russell Churney and director Christopher Luscombe. They are presented by Edward Snape for Fiery Angel.

The 5th London International Tango festival will be held at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday 17th October. There will be daytime masterclasses and workshops at all levels, from Absolute Beginners to Semi-professional, between 10am and 5pm. In the evening, a live tango orchestra will accompany demonstrations by some of the world's greatest tango dancers from 8pm to 10pm, followed by dancing for all until 1am. The festival is presented by Academia Nacional del Tango UK in association with Las Estrellas School of Tango, which will hold additional workshops between 10am and 8pm on 15th and 16th October. Full details, and videos of performers from previous years, are available from the London Tango Festival web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The latest Edinburgh Fringe show to reach London is Life Is Rhythm, featuring Camut Band, which will play at the Lyric Theatre from 6th to 22nd October. The Spanish group, comprising Rafael, Lluis Mendez, Toni Espanol, Jordi Sabates, Guillem Alonso and Jordi Satorra, present a drum thumping show of African inspired dance, music, percussion and song.

Dundee Repertory Theatre is offering an opportunity to see the rarely performed musical Flora The Red Menace with its Scottish premiere from 9th to 25th October. It is one of the early shows with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The book by David Thomson is based on the novel Love Is Just Around The Corner by Lester Atwell, originally adapted for the stage by George Abbot. Set in New York in 1935 it tells the story of a young fashion illustrator who falls in love with a radical artist and joins the Communist party - but her enthusiasm proves too much for their liking. The original Broadway production launched the career of Liza Minelli.

On The Casting Couch: Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis will star in the premiere of Five Gold Rings by Joanna Laurens, directed by Michael Attenborough, at the Almeida Theatre on 17th December.

Lactic Acid, the latest show from the Generating Company, which created the Millennium Dome show, premieres in the Bonnie Bird Theatre at the Laban Centre on 27th November. In their own particular genre defying style, fusing together the disciplines of circus and dance, it is a spectacular performance about the body, choreographed by Gill Clarke, which includes the Gandini Jugglers. Further information can be found on the Laban web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The theatre lost a legendary figure this week with the death of producer Harold Fielding. Originally a child prodigy violinist, Fielding started promoting concerts, tours and summer seasons. His first London show was Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at the Coliseum in 1958. From there he went on to present a host of big West End family musicals, both American imports and home grown, in the 60s, 70s and 80s, including The Music Man, Half A Sixpence, Sweet Charity, Charlie Girl, Mame, Show Boat, Barnum, Hans Christian Anderson and Singin In The Rain. Fielding's success rested on faith in his own judgement of what the public wanted to see in the creation and production of the shows - and he was never shy of telling his directors what needed to be done if he thought they were going wrong - coupled with a sales organisation with direct links to a strong network of coach party groups, which ensured long runs.