News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th May 2001

Ron Hutchinson's new play, The Beau, currently on tour under the title Beau Brummell will open at the Haymarket Theatre on 24th May. Peter Bowles stars as the eighteenth century wit and dandy, with Richard McCabe as his valet. The story concerns Brummel's later years, when no longer the epitome of elegance, he is down on his luck, having fled to Calais after insulting the Prince of Wales. This is a Theatre Royal Bath production directed by Caroline Hunt.

The Royal Shakespeare Company is launching a fourth performance space in Stratford on 26th May to be called The Summerhouse. The 162 seater contemporary canopied structure, designed by controversial architect Zaha Hadid, was originally commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery in London. It will be positioned between the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Bancroft Gardens and remain until October. The Summerhouse will offer a varied programme, including not only events that complement the RSC season, but alternative entertainment with music, stand up comedy, children's shows and workshops, in an effort to broaden the company's audience base.

Gary Wilmot is to make his Shakespearean debut as Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park from 4th June. He will star alongside Rebecca Callard, Paul Kemp, Rebecca Johnson and Martin Turner in Alan Strachan's production which returns from last season.

The Warehouse Theatre Croydon is holding its 16th International Playwriting Festival, in partnership with Italian festival Primo Candoni Arta Terme. It is in two parts: a competition with entries from all over the world, followed by a series of workshops and readings, leading on to the presentation of the best work in November. The Shagaround by Maggie Nevill, one of 1999's finalists, is receiving a full scale production in co-operation with the Nuffield Southampton, where it is currently playing. It stars Elizabeth Berrington, Luisa Bradshaw-White, Matthew Cullum, Veronica Quilligan, Cathy Tyson and Toyal Wilcox, and is directed by Patrick Sandford. The deadline for entries is 30th June. Further information and an entry form can be found on the Warehouse web site via the link from the UK London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Highlights of the Barbican's BITE:01 festival, in addition to previously mentioned productions, will include: Anthos Theatre's Odyssey, a comic and un-classical retelling of the story of Odysseus; Robert Wilson's distinctive production of August Strindberg's A Dream Play for the Stockholm Stadsteatern; Daaali, Albert Boadella's fantasy on Salvador Dali and other 20th century painters; the Chorus Repertory Theatre of Manipur presenting the tale of a 2nd century warrior in Uttar Priyadarshi; the UK premieres of Richard Maxwell's House and Boxing 2000, which examine the undertones of contemporary everyday life; Third World Bunfight's Big Dada which charts Idi Amin's descent into paranoia, told through African theatrical forms; and Compagnie Salia ni Seydou in Century Of Fools fusing African and European dance styles.

Producer greed looks to be a worldwide phenomenon, as evidenced by the two hottest selling tickets in London and New York. Although it is still playing at the National, Cameron Mackintosh has already opened a second booking period for My Fair Lady at Drury Lane, increasing the top price (most of the seats) to a new West End high of 40. On Broadway, on the day the rave notices came out for The Producers, the top price (most of the seats) went up to $100, the first regular show to reach three figures - a move that could have come straight out of the script.

Steven Berkoff will direct the world premiere of his new play The Secret Life Of Ophelia which will open a five week season at the King's Head Theatre on 18th June. The two hander traces the entire relationship of Hamlet and Ophelia through their letters (starting before Shakespeare's play) and features Martin Hodgson and Freya Bosworth. It is a King's Head production.

The Cockpit Theatre is launching a project to help writers, directors and performers showcase new work called Theatre In The . On one evening a month creatives can buy a twenty minute slot to perform their work, with the facilities that the studio theatre has to offer, for just 10. Solo performers will be able to take similar slots in the bar for just 1. Audiences will pay just 1 admittance to see the results featuring up to twelve shows and acts. The initial dates are 31st May, 5th and 26th July.

Sain Phillips, Anita Dobson, Clive Carter Anna Francolini and Matt Rawle are to appear in Almost Like Being In Love, as late cabaret returns to the National Theatre's Terrace Cafe from 25th May to 16th June. It will comprise songs written by Alan Jay Lerner that were either cut from shows, or are from unproduced work. The show is devised and directed by Hugh Wooldridge.

And Finally . . . Phoenix the calf, who at a very tender age was responsible for changing the government's foot-and-mouth policy, has had an offer for panto. Qdos, the successor to Paul Elliot's panto empire, is in negotiation for her to appear alongside Shane Ritchie in Jack And The Beanstalk at Wimbledon. Has Phoenix never heard about not appearing with animals and children?