News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th April 1997

The Playhouse Theatre will reopen in June under new management as a producing venue for quality drama. These will be straight runs, as opposed to the repertoire system at the Old Vic. The opening production will be The Wood Demon, Chekov's second full length play, which was unsuccessful at its premiere, and was rewritten to become Uncle Vanya. It will be directed by Frank Dwyer, who co-adapted with Nicholas Saunders.

As forecast here, a revival of Nell Dunn's comedy Steaming with Jenny Eclair, Diane Langton, Lynne Miller, Sheila Reid, Catherine Shipton and Julie T Wallace will open at the Piccadilly Theatre on 15th May, directed by Ian Brown. Six very different women who meet at a Turkish bath and exchange experiences, unite to fight its closure. Most of the stage is taken up with the bath, so don't sit near the front if you're afraid of being splashed - remember Tap Dogs.

The jury is still out, but the likely verdict is that the West End will see Clarence Darrow this summer. This is a one man show about the crusading American lawyer (already immortalised in the play based on the Leopold and Loebb trial) with Daniel Benzali. Although probably best known as Ted Hoffman in first series of Murder One on TV, Benzali is no stranger to London theatre, having been the original Max in Sunset Boulevard. Bill Bryden will direct. His Birmingham Rep production of The Merchant Of Venice with David Schofield and Cathy Tyson, currently on tour, is also looking for a West End home

On The Casting Couch: Always, opening at the Victoria Palace on 10th June, stars Clive Carter as Edward VIII and Jan Hartley as Wallis Simpson, with Sheila Ferguson and Shani Wallis. Master Class, opening at the Queens Theatre on 6th May, includes Kenneth Hadley, Susan Roper, Sophia Wylie and David Shrubsole in addition to Patti Lupone. The Fix, at the Donmar Warehouse, features John Barrowman, Kathryn Evans, Philip Quast and Krysten Cummings. It opens on 12th May, the day before Disney's Beauty And The Beast. Our hearts go out to its publicity company in their time of need.

David Pugh, producer of Art, who has skilfully promoted Sean Connery's involvement in the project, is to mount a West End production of David Shiner and Bill Irwin's Fool Moon. The play, which stars its writers, opened on Broadway in 1995, and tells the story of two men whose mental welfare is affected by the moon. Perhaps Pugh can interest Patrick Moore in "co-producing" this one.

It's Fascinating Aida year at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park. Issy Van Randwyck will play Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream (surely she's more of a Hermia?) and Lois/Bianca in Kiss Me Kate, while Dillie Keane will play the Countess in All's Well That Ends Well.

The Rumour Machine says: that Michael Cooney's thriller The Dark Side with Paul Nicholas and Jenny Seagrove is so bad it won't be coming in after its current tour; and that on the evidence of The Goodbye Girl's pre London showing at Bromley, perhaps Rob Bettinson should stick to directing compilation shows rather than tackling the real characters and real emotions of a book musical. The Rumour Machine grinds on.