News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd November 2006

The National Theatre has confirmed the new productions in its spring season. In the Olivier: George Etheredge's Restoration comedy of fashion and gossip, The Man Of Mode, with Tom Hardy, Rory Kinnear, Hayley Atwell and Nancy Carroll, directed by Nicholas Hytner. In the Lyttelton: Samuel Beckett's Happy Days, with Fiona Shaw buried in a mound of sand, directed by Deborah Warner; Martin Crimp's Attempts On Her Life: 17 Scenarios For The Theatre, a menagerie of late 20th century obsessions, from pornography to ethnic violence and terrorism, with Kate Duchene, Michael Gould and Jacqueline Kington, directed by Katei Mitchell; and John Kani and Winston Ntshona reprising their performances in Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, Athol Fugard's comic examination of friendship, hope and the struggle to survive under apartheid in South Africa, directed by Aubrey Sekhabi, a Baxter Theatre Centre Cape Town production. In the Cottesloe: the world premiere of Nicholas Wright's The Reporter, examining the suicide of television journalist James Mossman, with Ben Chaplin, Paul Ritter and Angela Thorne, directed by Richard Eyre; and the Education Depatment's touring production of Bertot Brecht's morality play The Caucasian Chalk Circle, in a new version by Frank McGuinness, with Nicolas Tennant, Cath Whitefield, Oliver Dimsdale and Mo Sesay, directed by Sean Holmes.

The Dash Arts' Indian production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Tim Supple, which received its British premiere at Stratford upon Avon in June, will open a British and international tour with a season at The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, from 13th March to 14th April. The production is an unconventional reinterpretation of the play, which was created in India, with 23 Indian and Sri Lankan actors, dancers, musicians, acrobats and street entertainers, who perform in Tamil, Malaysian, Sinhalese, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi and Sanskrit, in addition to English.

The Almeida Theatre in Islington has announced the final productions in its current season. Moira Buffini's Dying For It, freely adapted from Nikolai Erdman's banned Soviet era satirical comedy, about an unemployed man who, when he decides to commit suicide, is besieged by people begging him to die on their behalf, directed by Kathy Burke, will receive its premiere on 15th March. The first production outside of America of Theodore Ward's Big White Fog, about a black family dealing with the Great Depression in 1920s Chicago, directed by Michael Attenborough, will open on 17th May.

New York TheatreNet: Following its world premiere season at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, the musical comedy Curtains, the final collaboration of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, with book (adapted from the original idea by Peter Stone) and additional lyrics by Rupert Holmes, will open on Broadway at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, on 22nd March. David Hyde Pierce stars as a show tune loving detective, in the backstage murder mystery, set in Boston in 1959 during the pre-Broadway tryout of a new musical, 'Robbin' Hood', a Western version of the Sherwood Forest tale, where the leading lady is murdered on opening night. The entire company, including the creative team and producer are possible suspects, as the detective finds himself just as drawn toward making the show a hit, as he is in solving the murder. The company also includes Debra Monk, Karen Ziemba, Jason Danieley, Jill Paice, Edward Hibbert, John Bolton, Michael X Martin, Michael McCormick, Noah Racey and Megan Sikora, directed by Scott Ellis, with choreography by Rob Ashford.

A new contemporary version of J M Barrie's Peter Pan, adapted and directed by Stephanie Sinclaire, with choreography by Marc Urquhart, in which Leonard Bernstein's complete score will receive its premiere, will play early evening and weekend performances at the King's Head Theatre in Islington, from 15th December to 14th January. The cast will be led by Katherine Kastin, Peter Land and Rafaella Hutchinson. Bernstein wrote the music and lyrics of 8 songs, plus incidental music, for a Broadway production in 1950, but only 5 of the songs were actually included. It will play in tandem with mid evening performances of the Off Broadway show The Musical Of Musicals (The Musical!), with music by Eric Rockwell, lyrics by Joanne Bogart, and book by Rockwell and Bogart, seen earlier this year at the Sound Theatre, from 5th December to 14th January. It presents the same story - a tenant who can't pay the rent, threatened by her evil landlord - adapted into a musical in five different genres, as written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander and Ebb. Susannah Fellows and Ian McLarnon will reprise their roles, directed by Julian Woolford, with choreography by Steven Harris.

Emma Williams will star in A Model Girl, a new musical about the Profumo affair of the early 1960s, involving a model, a cabinet minister and a Russian spy, book and lyrics by Richard Alexander, music by Marek Rymaszewski, directed by Ruth Carney, with choreography by Nicola Treherne, which will open at Greenwich Theatre on 3rd February.

The government is to provide 7m to support a new National Skills Academy for the Live Performing Arts and Music, which aims to boost the technical skills in the performing arts by providing training led by experienced professionals. A further 4m is being sought from industry bodies to help fund the project. The plans are part of a comprehensive overhaul of training and qualifications for the creative industries carried out by Creative & Cultural Skills, the industry-led Sector Skills Council. A detailed business plan will be drawn up before the government gives the go ahead to start building the academy next spring. It is expected to be located in a state of the art central facility in Thames Gateway, supported by a regional network of employers operating in partnership with colleges and universities. The academy will focus on technical areas such as lighting, sound and production management, as well as business and commercial aspects such as promotion and finance.

The Off-Broadway musical i sing!, book by Eli Bolin, Sam Foreman and Benjamin Salka, music by Eli Bolin, and lyrics by Sam Foreman, about five young New Yorkers confronting their futures, will receive its British premiere at the Union Theatre in Southwark on 29th November. The company comprises Joanna Ampil, Debbie Kurup, Adam-Jon Fiorentino, Declan Harvey and George Miller, directed by Thomas Southerland, with choreography by Andrew Wright. The producer is Ed Greenall & Associates.

Scottish Dance Theatre is currently touring the UK with a repertoire comprising a new version of Janet Smith's Touching Zulu, about the survival of Zulu culture; Uri Ivgi and Johan Greben's new duet In the Middle Of The Moment, playing out the difficulties of a relationship in a confined space, performed to live music by the Hebrides Ensemble; Jan De Schynkel's No Stronger Than A Flower, inspired by Shakespeare's 65th Sonnet, set in part to the music of Tom Waits; and Liv Lorent's Luxuria, an earthy piece set to a classical score.