News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th February 2000

Lee Hall's Cooking With Elvis, an Edinburgh Festival Fringe success last year, will open at the Whitehall Theatre on 14th March. The premise is the interaction of a food obsessed 14-year-old girl, her paraplegic father (formerly an amateur Elvis impersonator), her sex driven anorexic mother, and the man both mother and daughter fall for - the perfect Fringe show. It features Frank Skinner, Joe Caffrey, Charlie Hardwick and Sharon Percy, and is directed by Max Roberts. PW Productions presents the Live Theatre Production.

Following last week's news of Lautrec, the next French musical off the production line (I knew this would happen when we built the Channel Tunnel) will be Napoleon, aiming for an opening (like Lautrec) at the Shaftesbury Theatre, but in October. This show about the first attempt at creating a European union, is written by Timothy Williams and Andrew Sabiston and directed by Francesca Zambello. The producer is Malmaison Productions.

Judi Dench has opened the largest exhibition in the world dedicated to Shakespeare and Elizabethan theatre at Shakespeare's Globe. Housed in the undercroft directly beneath the theatre, the exhibition uses a combination of traditional crafts and modern technology to bring the Shakespeare's world to life. Interactive exhibits include an opportunity to compose Elizabethan music, and a form of Shakespeare karaoke. Two booths with touch screens and microphones will allow visitors to perform a role in extracts from the plays. Scenes available include Hamlet's musings on Yorick's skull, and the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. There will also be live demonstrations of sword fighting and authentic prop and costume making.

La Cava, a new musical written by Dana Broccoli, will open at the Victoria Palace on 24th May. Based on a true story, it is set in Spain in 711, when Julian starts a war with the Moors, believing that King Roderich has seduced his daughter Florinda, who has been promised in marriage to an army officer, and is also being pursued by an Arab. The director is Steven Dexter, and the producers are Zollo Productions and Florinda Inc.

In the next booking period for The Lion King, for performances from 3rd October to 4th March, the schedule will be revised to include shows on Sundays. This period goes on sale from 13th February. Online booking is available on the The Lion King web site, via the featured link from the Now Playing section of TheatreNet.

Perrier Award winner Al Murray - The Pub Landlord, returns to the West End with his traditional Cockney wit and wisdom, for an eight week season at the Playhouse Theatre from 15th March. The producer is Avalon.

Northern Ballet Theatre performs the world premiere of Great Expectations, based on the Dickens novel, at the Grand Leeds on 14th February, prior to a national tour. Using the music of Edward Elgar, NBT's new artistic director Stefano Giannetti has created a work in the spirit of their previous dance theatre pieces based on classic stories, such as A Christmas Carol and Dracula.

The Tiller Girls are to be revived and will kick again this summer. Dougie Chapman has bought the rights to the title from Robert Luff, and will launch a new team in a show with Danny la Rue at the Winter Gardens Pavilion Blackpool. John Tiller and his wife originally formed the group for a show at the old Pavilion Theatre Blackpool in the 1890's. Fay Robinson, who is currently with the 1960's Tillers group, which retires this year, will choreograph the new team of twelve.

First mentioned here almost two years ago as Peter Hall projects, Bill Kenwright will bring two American classics to the West End in the autumn. Jessica Lange is to star in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, directed by Garry Hynes, possibly at the Haymarket Theatre in October. Antony Page will direct Tennessee Williams Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, possibly starring Ashley Judd.

Hard Times, a musical by Christopher Tookey and Hugh Thomas, based on Charles Dickens novel, will open at Theatre Royal Windsor on 20th April, prior to a West End transfer. It stars Roy Hudd, Brian Blessed, Patsy Rowlands, Malcolm Rennie, Susan Jane Tanner and Peter Blake. The show uses a travelling circus to tell its story of the harsh life in a northern manufacturing town during the industrial revolution. Christopher Tookey will direct, with choreography by Gillian Gregory. Hard Times Productions is presenting and Bill Kenwright is the executive producer. Investment information can be found via a link from the Investment section of TheatreNet.

A new study of Broadway audiences by the League of American Producers and Theatres reveals that: the average patron is 42 years old (with the under 18's rising from 4% to 10% in the last 20 years), 63% are female, the average household income is $95,900, and 28% have a graduate degree. The biggest factor in the choice of a show is word of mouth, with only 23% citing the reviews as the most important influence.

Adventures in Motion Pictures new show The Car Men will open at the west country hit factory of Theatre Royal Plymouth in May, prior to a national tour and a West End appearance in the autumn. Subtitled "An Auto-Erotic Thriller", it is directed and choreographed by Matthew Bourne, with music by Terry Davies and Rodion Shchedin, adapted from Bizet's Carmen. However it abandons the familiar plot for a new story, inspired by Hollywood Film Noir movies and the European New Wave cinema of the sixties. A small community is shattered by the arrival of a handsome stranger, and soon descends into a spiral of lust, greed and finally murder. Sounds like a big hit or a monster flop.