News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th June 1999

Although Forbidden Broadway has finished its sell-out season at the Jermyn Street Theatre, it will return to the Albery Theatre on 29th July for six weeks. The revue takes a satirical look at shows, and their creators and performers. Over 16 years has become an Off Broadway institution, spawning versions in other American cities. The London production features British actors Louise Dann, Mark O'Malley and Alistair Robbins, plus New York Forbidden veteran Christine Pedi, directed by Philip George. The show was conceived and written by Gerard Alessandrini.

Peter O'Toole is to return to the West End in August, in a revival of Keith Waterhouse's play Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell. Based on the life and writing of the Spectator columnist and drinker, the premise is that Bernard is locked in the Coach And Horses pub alone overnight, and recalls people and incidents from his life. O'Toole created the role in the 1989 West End production, directed by Ned Sherrin, and the revival will reunite the original cast. It opens at the Old Vic Theatre for an initial six week run, during which time it will be videoed. The producer is Pericles Productions.

From 22nd June to 17th July, the Old Vic will present Ricky Jay And His 52 Assistants. The American close up magician (the 52 assistants being playing cards) has played sell-out seasons Off Broadway, appeared on television performing street magic, and also in films. In order to maintain intimacy, the audience will be limited to 160, seated on the stage. As a result, seat prices will range from 15 to 75, thus more than doubling the current top West End price. The show is directed by playwright and magic enthusiast David Mamet, and produced by the Old Vic.

The Barclays Theatre Awards are looking for theatregoers to form its 100 strong public judging panel. Presented by the Theatrical Management Association, these are the only UK wide awards for theatre. Panellists will receive a pair of complementary tickets for shows in their local area, between 1st September and 31st August 2000. They award marks for the shows attended, which are then collated to form a shortlist for consideration by theatre professionals, who make the final choice. Application forms are available from Theatrical Management Association, 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET, or call 0171 557 6777. The closing date is 9th July.

The National Theatre is to stage the UK premiere of The Darker Face Of The Earth, the first play by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Rita Dove, on 5th August. Based on the story of Oedipus, it is set on a Southern plantation, where the owner's wife gives birth to a child of mixed race. Although the child is supposed to be killed, he escapes, but returns as an adult. Directed by James Kerr, making his National debut, it features Peter de Jersey, Andrew Further, Oscar James and Jax Williams. Fiona Shaw will make her directing debut at the National with a production of Bernard Shaw's Widowers' Houses in December. The play tells the story of a young doctor, who falls in love with a woman whose fortune has been made from the ownership of slums.

Richard Greenburg's play Three Days Of Rain returns to the Donmar Warehouse from 9th November to 22nd January, following its sell-out run as part of the American Imports season earlier this year. Colin Firth, Elisabeth McGovern and David Morrissey will recreate their dual roles, as both the children of architectural partners engaged in solving a mystery, and moving back in time, the partners themselves, to reveal the solution. Robin Lefevre directs.

Brodie & Middleton, one of Britain's best known theatrical suppliers is to close this month after a 160 year run. The Drury Lane based supplier of traditional paints, brushes, and other artists and prop making essentials, blames the decision on the closure of the nearby Royal Opera House. This has caused a fatal drop in sales, on top of a long term move away from traditional materials. It has always been a family run business based in Covent Garden, and has seen the departure or closure of a number of other small theatre supply businesses. Ownership has been shared between two families, neither of which was called Brodie or Middleton, and the origin of the name remains a mystery.

The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company returns to London from 27th July to 1st August. H.M.S. Pinafore will dock on the South Bank at the Royal Festival Hall, presented by Raymond Gubbay.

Sadler's Wells has announced its autumn season, which will follow a summer closure for completion of building work. It starts on 29th September, and comprises of: Siobhan Davies Dance Group in Davies first full length work Wild Air; Mark Morris Dance Group premiering Gloria, The Argument and Rhymes With Silver; Opera North productions of La Traviata, Katya Kabanova and Don Giovanni; Irek Mukhamedov and a company of Russian star dancers in a mixed programme; San Francisco Ballet making its first London appearance in Swan Lake and mixed programmes; Roberto De Simone's Media Aetas Teatro production of La Gatta Cenerentola; National Youth Ballet in a mixed programme; Norwegian National Ballet making its London debut with Romeo And Juliet; and Rambert Dance Company in three mixed programmes.

Goldsmith's College is holding a combined open day and arts festival called Eclipse, on 12th June, from 10.00am to 4.30pm. The open day will include informal talks with tutors, sessions for prospective research students, exhibitions, performances and campus tours, providing information about undergraduate, postgraduate and adult education study opportunities, across music, drama and dance. Eclipse is a celebration of the creative and performing arts, involving the college and other local groups and organisations. Further details are on the Goldsmith's web site via the link from TheatreNet's Training section.