News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th June 2004

The premiere production of Simon Gray's The Old Masters, starring Edward Fox, Peter Bowles, Barbara Jefford, Sally Dexter and Steven Pacey, directed by Harold Pinter, will transfer from Birmingham Rep to the Comedy Theatre, opening on 1st July. The action takes place at a meeting of art critic Bernard Berenson and art dealer Joseph Duveen in Florence in 1937, and explores issues of true value, provenance, forgery and fraud - both artistic and personal. The show is co-produced with Greg Ripley-Duggan and Duveen Productions.

English National Opera has confirmed the remaining productions in its 2004/2005 season, joining the previously announced complete staging of Berlioz's The Trojans; Wagner's Siegfried; and its first ever production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance. The new productions are Michael Tippett's A Child Of Our Time, directed by Jonathan Kent; Handel's Jephtha, a co-production with Welsh National Opera, directed by Katie Mitchell; Mozart's La Clemenza Di Tito, directed by David McVicar; On The Town, the musical evocation of 1940s New York, with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Leonard Bernstein, directed by Jude Kelly and choreographed by Stephen Mear; and Twilight Of The Gods, the completion of Wagner's Ring Cycle, directed by Phyllida Lloyd. There will be revivals of Calixto Bieito's production of Don Giovanni; Matthew Warchus's Falstaff and Cosi fan tutte; Robert Carsen's Semele; Jonathan Miller's The Barber Of Seville; Richard Jones's Lulu and Julia Hollander's Eugene Onegin.

In the immediate future, ENO is planning to go one better than the Royal Opera House, by presenting the first live opera to be staged in its entirety in Trafalgar Square, with a free performance of Puccini's La Boheme at 7.30pm on 7th July. It will feature the full ENO company of principal singers, orchestra and chorus. Bringing a touch of Glyndebourne to the city, the square will be covered by artificial turf and the audience encouraged to bring a picnic. ENO is also taking opera to the country (and the masses) with a visit to the Glastonbury Festival on 27th June, performing Act III of Wagner's The Valkyrie - although the National Theatre's African mud bath production of A Midsummer Night's Dream might seem a more appropriate choice.

Graham Bill, Linda Broughton, Diana Fairfax and Gilbert Wynne star with a group of ballroom dancers in the premiere of John Retallack's Ballroom, a bittersweet drama about the lives and lost loves of four reluctant tea dancers. It opens on 2nd and 3rd July at the White Rock Theatre in Hastings, and then plays at the Guildhall in Southampton on 9th and 10th July, prior to a regional tour. The show is directed by Retallack and Jack Murphy, and produced by the De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill, Linda Lewis Productions and the Nuffield Theatre Southampton.

Oxford Shakespeare Company will be performing a season of open air productions at Wadham College Gardens in Oxford from 6th July to 11th September, comprising Love's Labour's Lost, directed by Kevin Hosier; Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, directed by Sarah Davey; and The Comedy Of Errors, directed by Chris Pickles. This last production will open at the North Garden Lincoln's Inn in London, playing from 2nd August to 3rd September, before joining the repertoire in Oxford.

This year's Almeida Opera season runs from 1st to 18th July, and comprises the London premiere of Harrison Birtwistle's The Io Passion, with libretto by Stephen Plaice, in which the relationship between a man and a woman is entwined with a ritual sacrifice on a Greek island, featuring Joseph Alessi, Teresa Banham, Claire Booth, Amy Freston, Sam McElroy and Richard Morris, directed by Stephen Langridge; the British premiere of Michael Nyman's Man And Boy: Dada, with libretto by Michael Hastings, featuring John Graham Hall, William Sheldon and Vivan Tierney, about the unlikely friendship between Kurt Schwitters, founder of the DADA movement, and a young boy in post war London, directed by Lindsay Posner; and the World premiere of John Woolrich's The Sea And Its Shore, a song cycle inspired by American poet Elizabeth Bishop's story about a beach comber's trawl for scraps of writing, featuring Katalin Karolyi.

An Indian themed production of Twelfth Night, with Raza Jaffrey, Paul Bhattacharjee, Kulvinder Ghir, Paul Bazely, Sherren Martineau and Raaghav Chanana, directed by Stephen Beresford, will open at the Albery Theatre on 2nd September.

Charles H Fox, the legendary wig and make up shop in Tavistock Street, has reopened its premises following a major refurbishment. As well as improved facilities in the shop, there is now a fully equipped make up studio available for hire for make up and wig tests. Charles H Fox established his company in Covent Garden in 1878 to supply the professional theatre with costumes, wigs and make-up. Among his chief clients were Henry Irving and Ellen Terry, resident at the Lyceum Theatre, just round the corner. In addition to the theatre, the company now supplies the television, film and fashion industries, with both standard and special effects make up and wigs. It also runs practical workshops in Character, Beauty and Photographic, Fantasy Face Painting and Special Effects make up. Further information can be found on the CHF web site via the link from the Suppliers section of TheatreNet.

The summer programme at Somerset House will again include two weeks of outdoor concerts and a children's arts event. The first series of concert performances are: 13th and 14th July - PJ Harvey; 15th July - Lemon Jelly; 16th July - Bebel Gilberto; 17th and 18th July - Belle & Sebastian; and 19th July - Afro Cuban All-Stars and Orchestra Baobab. The Free Time international arts event for children, in the first weekend of the summer holidays, 23rd to 26th July from 10 am to 6pm, involves both open air events in the Courtyard and special activities inside in all three galleries. The second series of concert performances are: 4th August - Air; 5th August - Turin Brakes; 6th August - Basement Jaxx; 7th August - Beverley Knight; 8th August - Snow Patrol.

The Rumour Machine says: that Billy Elliot - The Musical will open at the Victoria Palace Theatre next March, following its premiere season at Newcastle Opera House; that Rose Rage, adapted and directed by Edward Hall from Shakespeare's three Henry VI plays, will make its New York debut Off Broadway in September, with an all American cast; and that Paul Rhys will play the title roles in Sophocles's Oedipus and Shakespeare's Richard II for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.