News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th July 2003

The National Theatre production of Jerry Springer - The Opera, with music by Richard Thomas, and book and lyrics by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas, directed by Lee, will transfer to the Cambridge Theatre on Tuesday 14th October. It is produced by Avalon Promotions and Allan McKeown Productions in association with the National Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre.The autumn season at Sadler's Wells includes a brave move into co-production with a gospel musical The Temptation Of St Anthony, Robert Wilson and Bernice Johnson Reagon's adaptation of Flaubert's novel in September; and the National Ballet of China's Raise The Red Lantern, an adaptation of Zhang Yimou's 1991 film, with a 170 strong company of performers and musicians, directed by Yimou, in November. The season also includes Rosas with Small Hands danced in the round; two one woman operas sung by Jessye Norman; Wim Vandekeybus Blush, set to music by David Eugene Edwards; Ballet Prejlocaj's Near Life Experience danced to the music of Air; Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake; and return visits by Rambert Dance Company, Richard Alston Dance Company, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Random Dance.

The Barbican is presenting Mostly Mozart, four weekends of concerts, films and events from 10th July to 2nd August. Highlights include: Alexander's Feast, with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and The Sixteen; the Garsington Opera production of La finta giardiniera; a double bill of operas on the subject of producing an opera -Prima la Musica pui la Parole and The Impresario; and a concert pairing the talents of pianist Melvyn Tan and trumpet virtuoso Alison Balsom; plus free foyer music, talk, fireworks and family events. Further information can be found on the Barbican web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The Broadway musical Footloose, based on the 1984 film, will open a six month UK regional tour at the Theatre Royal Plymouth on 5th February, prior to a prospective West End transfer. This will be a revised version of the 1998 original, with book by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, and songs by Dean Pitchford and Tom Snow and others. It is the story of a big city boy who finds himself relocated in a small Bible belt town where dancing is banned as the work of the Devil (along with fun in general), so his rock'n'roll ways are frowned upon. The show will be directed by Paul Kerryson, choreographed by Karen Bruce, and produced by Mark Goucher, Michael Rose, Tristan Baker, Clear Channel Entertainment and the Theatre Royal Plymouth.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Cyberjam, a sequel to Blast!, the American marching brass band, percussion and majorettes spectacular is coming to the Queen's Theatre from 4th September to 25th October. The original show, featuring a 60 strong company of blowers, bangers, twirlers and tossers, which got no closer to the West End than the London Apollo Hammersmith in 1999, went on to win the Tony Award for Best Theatrical Event in 2001. The new show toured in America earlier this year with the title Shockwave.

To mark the 400th anniversary of the first printed edition of Hamlet, the British Library has mounted a display of rare archive items spotlighting the play. It includes one of only two known surviving copies in the world of the first edition, together with an unauthorised version, generally referred to as the first or 'bad' quarto, which was rushed out before the official publication. This is presumed to be reconstructed from the memory of the actor who played Marcellus in the original production, and many of the well known speeches, including "To be, or not to be", appear in a mangled form. The exhibition also includes Laurence Olivier's own personally notated prompt book used by him as director of the production which launched the National Theatre in 1963 starring Peter O'Toole. An audio display from the National Sound Archive with more than 25 tracks provides a chance to hear and compare the styles of some of the most memorable performances, from Herbert Beerbohm Tree in 1906 to Richard Burton in 1964. There is even a translation of the play into 'Klingon'.

The Peggy Ramsay Foundation is inviting applications for this year's 36,000 Project Award to help foster new writing. Resident or touring professional theatre companies who have been in existence for over two years, and have already produced at least two new plays by UK writers in the last three years, can submit any proposal involving commissioning and/or producing new work by a British writer. The deadline for submissions is 1st August. The Award may be given to one company or divided between a number of projects. Further information can be found on the PRF web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Michael Barrymore, Bill Bailey and Lenny Henry are to appear in a season of stand-up at Wyndham's Theatre in the autumn under the banner Kings Of Comedy. Barrymore will perform from 15th September to 11th October and 20th October to 8th November, Bailey from 13th to 18th October, and Henry from 10th to 29th November. The season is presented by ISI.

Anthony Clark's first season as artistic director of Hampstead Theatre, which opens on 29th September, includes five world premieres. Clare McIntyre's The Maths Tutor, in which an accusation against a GCSE tutor sets in motion a tragic series of events, will be directed by Clark. Gregory Burke's The Straits, directed by John Tiffany, is set in Gibraltar in 1982, where competition between three British service kids and the locals has serious consequences. Stephen Lowe's Revelations is a tale of four couples who meet on a 'Swinging For Beginners' weekend in the Lake District, directed by Clark. It will run in tandem with Barbara Norden's children's play Meteorite, about a boy who fears that Armageddon is nigh. Drew Pautz's All This Stuff, directed by Jennie Darnell, is about a conceptual artist whose dream comes true in the Sistine Chapel. Hanif Kureishi's When The Night Begins, directed by Clark, is a psychological two hander about victims and aggressors in which a widow seeks out a man from her childhood.

This year's Opera Holland Park season, running until 9th August, is to be followed by the Holland Park Shakespeare Festival from 12th to 17th August. Open air Shakespeare specialists R J Williamson Company will bring their productions of Hamlet (which includes Emily Lloyd as Ophelia) and As You Like It to the park as part of their tour which also takes in Brighton, Nottingham and Leeds. Further information online booking can be found on the OHP web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that American Anne Hathaway will star in the Sydmonton Festival showcase of Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical of Wilkie Collins The Woman In White - and then hopefully in the West End next year; that the Bee Gees are looking for a book writer to turn their back catalogue into a 'musical'; that Tommy Steele will star in the Leslie Bricusse musical Scrooge in Birmingham and Liverpool in the late autumn and winter; and that Scott Whittman and Marc Shaiman (who adapted Hairspray into the Tony Award winning show) are turning their attention to the 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, the true story of a con artist who managed to cash $2.5m in forged cheques before his 21st birthday. The Rumour Machine grinds on.