News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 3rd December 1999

The Donmar Warehouse production of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing opens at the Albery Theatre on 13th January for a two month run, prior to an appearance on Broadway. It will again feature Stephen Dillaine, who has just won the Evening Standard Best Actor Award for his performance in the piece, and Jennifer Ehle. Stoppard explores the difference between art and emotion, as a writer has an affair with the wife of an actor in one of his plays. David Leveaux directs and it is produced by Warehouse Productions.

A highly critical report by the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education on the arts in education is being suppressed by the government. The Department for Education and Employment is refusing to send summaries of the findings out to all schools on the grounds of cost, despite offers of financial assistance from the National Union of Teachers. The report recommends that in order to provide a broad standard of education, creativity should be placed at the centre of the national curriculum, and therefore conflicts with the current concentration on literacy and numeracy.

Kathleen Turner is to be joined by Matthew Rhys in the previously mentioned stage version of the Mike Nichols film The Graduate. It has been adapted by Terry Johnson who will also direct, and the producer is Sacha Brooks.

As it reaches its centenary, a new 125 year lease on The Hippodrome in Charing Cross Road is for sale. Although it has been in restaurant or club use for many years, the building was designed by Britain's greatest theatre architect Frank Matcham. Its prime location and size mean that it would be much sought after if it could be restored and returned to theatre use. However the cost of doing this would be high, as it is a Grade II listed building, which falls within the Leicester Square conservation area. Also, a figure of 50m has been mentioned for the lease - and for that you could buy half of Stoll Moss.

Part of the National Theatre's programme for next year has been announced. Alan Ayckbourn's latest work House and Garden is two plays with the same cast, taking place simultaneously in the Olivier and the Lyttleton auditoria - one being the house, and the other the garden. It premiered at Scarborough last June, and Ayckbourn directs on the South Bank in August. Each play can be seen as a complete individual piece. The British premiere of Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona's The Island, about Nelson Mandela's period of imprisonment, will be on 26th January. Kani and Ntshona star and Fugard directs. The Villains' Opera, yet another version of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera by Stephen Warbeck, opens on 11th April. The stage version of Tennessee Williams' screenplay Baby Doll, adapted and directed by Lucy Bailey, seen at Birmingham Rep last October, opens on 7th March.

Equity has set up a new job information service for performers. The recorded message is updated daily and costs 25p per minute on 0901 817 1717. There is a link to the Equity web site from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Flying Music, the production company that has specialised in touring compilation shows, including The Magic Of The Musicals, is expanding into musicals and possibly plays. David Graham of DMG productions has joined to develop its production base. Frank, Sammy And Dean - The Rat Pack Live In Vegas, a compilation show with a story will open in the spring.

A stake in the comedy chain Jongleurs is on the market, following a falling out of its co-owners. Jongleurs was founded by John Davey in the early 80's with venues in Battersea and Camden. In 1993, to fund rapid expansion, he sold a 49% stake to Regent Inns who already operated the bars. Now Regent Inns wants to take a controlling interest, but cannot agree terms with Davey. There is a link to the Jongleurs web site via the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The Royal Military Tattoo 2000, which replaces the Royal Tournament, will be staged on Horse Guards Parade from 10th to 15th July. The two hour 6.5m budget show will use son et lumiere, lasers, fireworks and the world's largest mobile video screen. Over 1000 service personnel will demonstrate the latest equipment, the Royal Horse Artillery will perform a musical drive, freefall parachutists will land in the arena, and there will be a flypast of aircraft from all three services. It will be repeated as a single night event in succeeding years. The script will be by Rosemary Anne Sissons, and it will be staged by Major Mike Parker, who was responsible for the Royal Tournament and the annual Christmas charity event at the Royal Albert Hall.

Noted children's writer Christopher Lillicrap's version of The Adventures Of Sinbad is this year's Christmas production at the Watermill Newbury, running until 15th January. Living proof that good writing and imaginative staging can count for more than a big budget, it is directed by John Doyle.

The future of Ealing Studios now looks secure after a bid of 7m by Fragile Films. With a history dating back to1907, the studios were the home of the great post war Ealing comedies. They closed for film production in 1955 when they were taken over by the BBC. The National Film and Television School acquired them four years ago, but when the NFTS's plan to refurbish the buildings and relocate there was refused funding, it looked as though the studios would be sold for development. Now they will be regenerated, and in addition to film production they become the first digital studios for web broadcasting in Europe.