News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th April 2008

The Edinburgh International Festival has announced the programme for this year's festival, running from 8th to 31st August, including 3 world premieres, 2 European premieres, and 10 UK premieres, for which booking opens on 12th April. Theatre highlights include the National Theatre of Scotland's 365 One Night To Learn A Lifetime, by David Harrower, with songs by Paul Buchanan, about young people in practice flats prior to leaving care, directed by Vicky Featherstone; and the Palestinian National Theatre with Jidariyya, a look at mortality, based on a poem by Mahmoud Darwish. Opera highlights include The Hilliard Ensemble performing Heiner Goebbels's I Went To The House But Did Not Enter, three tableaux based on T S Eliot's The Lovesong Of J Alfred Prufrock, Maurice Blanchot's The Madness Of The Day and Samuel Beckett's Worstword Ho!; and a Scottish Opera production of Smetana's The Two Widows, with Jane Irwin and Kate Valentine, directed by Tobias Hoheisel and Imogen Kogge. Dance highlights include Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray, adapted from Oscar Wilde's story of the man whose portrait ages while he remains young, to a score by Terry Davies, with Richard Winsor, Michela Meazza and Aaron Sillis; and Australian Chunky Move with its light, sound and movement extravaganza Mortal Engine, directed and choreographed by Gideon Obarzanek. Music highlights include a celebration of Olivier Messiaen's centenary, including organ recitals by Naji Hakim, and visits by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Further information can be found on the EIF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The British premiere of Neil LaBute's Fat Pig, a caustic comedy about how a man reacts to his friends' horror when he dates an overweight woman, with Robert Webb, Ella Smith, Kris Marshall and Joanna Page, will open at Trafalgar Studios 1 on 16th May. The producer is Barry Weissier.

David Essex will star in All The Fun Of The Fair, a back catalogue musical of his songs, with a story set in a travelling funfair, book by Jon Conway, directed by Nikolai Foster, which will open an extensive tour at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley on 12th September, produced by Alan Darlow.

This year's Opera Holland Park season will run from 3rd June to 9th August, with the City of London Sinfonia as resident orchestra. It comprises Verdi's Il travatore, directed by John Lloyd Davies; Donizetti's La Fille du regiment, directed by William Kerley; Mozart's The Magic Flute, directed by Simon Callow; Puccini's Tosca, directed by Stephen Barlow; Ponchielli's La Gioconda, directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans; and Tchaikovsky's Iolanta, directed by Annilese Miskimmon, which will be preceded by a dance piece choreographed by Regina Wielingen to Stravinsky's Pulcinella. The Theatre is located in the middle of Holland Park and uses the ruins of Holland House as a backdrop to the performances. Both stage and audience are covered by a canopy. Further information and online booking can be found on the OHP web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

New York TheatreNet: Roundabout Theatre Company's current production of John Buchan's 1920s stiff upper lip British spy story The 39 Steps, adapted by Patrick Barlow, from an original concept by Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon, in which 4 actors play more than 150 characters, directed by Maria Aitken, will transfer to the Cort Theatre, opening on 8th May. The cast comprises Charles Edwards, reprising his performance from the original London production, Jennifer Ferrin, Cliff Saunders and Arnie Burton.

Stage One, by arrangement with The Society Of London Theatre, is holding another Workshop For New Producers from 26th to 28th June. This is an intensive course for anyone planning to produce or co-produce in theatre. The aim is to provide detailed information on how to set up a production at a regional theatre and bring it into the West End, for those who have not previously produced commercial plays, or have only limited experience, but possess a firm commitment to a career in theatre production. It will be conducted by leading theatre practitioners led by production doyenne Andrew Treagus. Sessions will include: acquiring rights, budgeting, raising investment, co-producing, booking a tour, finding and contracting a theatre, marketing, publicity and press. The closing date for applications is 24th April. Further information and an application form can be found on the SO web site, via link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The next production at the Theatre Royal Stratford East will be Rikki Beadle-Blair's Familyman, the story of a man, raised by successive generations of single women, struggling to be a father when he has no clue what a father really is, with Gary Beadle, Llewella Gideon, Jo Martin, Jo Castleton, Ricci McLeod, Aaron Taylor and Ayesha Antoine, directed by Dawn Reid, from 2nd May.

The Royal Opera House is continuing its ROH2 series of innovative and experimental small scale dance, opera and music events, staged in the Linbury Theatre and Clore Studio. Upcoming highlights include Ballet Black with a triple bill of new works by Richard Alston, Liam Scarlett and Shobana Jeyasingh, from 9th to 12th April; aerial circus dance company Gravity & Levity with Shift, a promenade performance of interlinking pieces combining choreography by Charlotte Vincent, Charles Linehan, and Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, from 21st to 23rd April; and Helen Chadwick's Dalston Songs, a song cycle based on interviews with her neighbors in east London, choreographed by Steven Hoggett, from 1st to 3rd May.

Michael Billington's The State Of The Nation has won this year's Theatre Book Prize, selected from a field of 78 submissions, by the Society of Theatre Research. The Guardian critic received the award this week at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane for his history of post war British drama. The work, which took Billington six years to write, was described by competition judge and actress Sian Philips as "the best book ever written about theatre".

The Rumour Machine says: that the recently opened Broadway production of Arthur Laurents-Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim's quintessential American musical Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone, Boyd Gaines and Laura Benanti, directed by Arthur Laurents, may transfer to London in the autumn of next year, courtesy of producer David Ian; and that Conor McPherson is working on a stage adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's short story The Birds, set in a coastal town where birds start to attack people, which producer David Pugh hopes to bring to the West End late this year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.