Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
English National Opera has announced that the final production of its 2006/2007 season will be the musical Kismet, with music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest, based on themes of Alexander Borodin, and book by Charles Lederer and Luther Davies, adapted from Edward Knoblock's play of the same name. The Arabian Nights inspired story follows the changes of fortune that engulf a poor poet during the course of one incredible day when Kismet (fate) takes control. It will be a newly revised version of the show, conceived by director Gary Griffin, Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Luther Davis, and will star Michael Ball, opening at the London Coliseum on 27th June.
If I Were You, Alan Ayckbourn's 70th play, with Liza Goddard, John Branwell, Andrew Brooke, Saskia Butler and David Hartley, will receive its world premiere at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough on 12th October. It explores the lives of a couple, their secret concerns hidden away from one other, and a solution that will change not just their views of each other, but their lives forever.
The Royal Court Theatre has announced further productions: Harold Pinter will perform Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, in which an old man is listening to his own recorded voice, directed by Ian Rickson, in the Theatre Upstairs from 11th to 21st October; and Caryl Churchill's Drunk Enough To Say I Love You?, 'Jack would do anything for Sam - Sam would do anything', directed by James Macdonald, which will receive its world premiere on 10th November - a co-production with The Public Theater in New York.
New York TheatreNet: Dr Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! - The Musical, the American classic tale of a grumpy hermit who hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville, directed by Matt August, with choreography by John DeLuca, will open a Christmas season at the Hilton Theatre from 8th November to 7th January. The stage adaptation, with book and lyrics by Timothy Mason, and music by Mel Marvin, includes 2 songs from the 1966 film. The show, which was conceived and created by Jack O'Brien, has been staged at Christmas at The Old Globe Theater in San Diego for the last 8 years. It will set a new performance record for a Broadway theatre by playing 12 shows a week, including 8 on weekends alone. The producer is Running Subway Productions.
The autumn season at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester includes A Party To Murder, by Marcia Kash and Douglas E Hughes, in which a Halloween murder mystery weekend at a deserted cottage becomes the real thing, with Sabina Franklin, Rebekah Gibbs, Tony Scannell and Giles Watling, directed by Ian Dickins; Jerome K Jerome's Three Men In A Boat, the classic Edwardian comic tale of a trip down the Thames, with Clive Francis (who also adapted the book), Neil Stacy and Simon Ward, directed by Paul Jepson; the premiere of Anna Reynolds's Blue Sky State, about two friends living in an isolated house whose past secret is revealed by the arrival of a stranger, with Christine Absalom, Joanne Howarth and Joel Sams, directed by Adrian Stokes; August Strindberg's Miss Julie, the erotically charged encounter between a mistress and her servant, with Kate Copeland, Victor Gardener and Charlie Morgan, directed by Patricia Benecke; and Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good, set around a theatre production mounted by a convict settlement in Australia, with Christine Absalom, Ignatius Anthony, Tony Casement, Neil D'Souza, Roger Delves-Broughton, Miranda Floy, Justin Grattan, Tim Treslove and Yvonne Wandera, directed by Sue Lefton.
The new Edinburgh Fringe if.comeddies (the ludicrously renamed Perrier Awards) will double the previous total prize money and introduce a third prize, joining the main award and Most Promising Newcomer. The new award will be the Panel Prize, awarded entirely at the discretion of the judges - no criteria, no nominations and no shortlist - to the person from the comedy industry the panel considers most deserves it. The main winner will now receive £8,000 and the others £4,000 each.
Further shows have been announced to join the previously mentioned Rabbit and Not About Heroes in the autumn season at the Trafalgar Studios 2. Eric Bogosian's Notes From Underground, a dark journey packed with stolen cars, sleeping pills, kitchen knives and cheddar cheese crackers, with Will Adamsdale, directed by Adrian Osmond, will play from 10th October until 4th November. William Gaunt will star in Frank McGuinness's Gates Of Gold, about Hilton Edwards and Michael MacLiammoir, the founders of Gate Theatre in Dublin, directed by Gavin McAlinden, from 21st November to 16th December. Horla's Grimms – The Final Chapter, bringing together a host of mysterious and spooky folk tales from around the world, adapted and directed by Alistair Green, will run from 20th December until 6th January. Neil LaBute's Bash, a trilogy of plays about 'beautiful people doing awful things', with Juliet Rylance and David Sturzaker, directed by Tamara Harvey, will play from 10th January to 3rd February.
Shakespeare & Co: Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher And The Other Players In His Story, by Stanley Wells, recently published by Allen Lane, captures the 'sex and drugs and rock'n'roll' world of what was the most creative period in British theatrical history. Wells explores the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatrical scene, looks at the actors Shakespeare worked with, and examines the lives and the works of the other writers of his day, from Ben Jonson to Thomas Middleton, and his successors such as John Webster. Wells reveals a picture not of asceticism and high artistic ideals, but of the down to earth practicalities of servicing the explosively expanding theatre industry, with the group of writers sharing ideas and writing (sometimes willingly, sometimes not), constantly hacking the plays about at the behest of actors or managers - or to keep the attention of their boisterous audiences - and having a wild time doing so.
The autumn season at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond includes a George Bernard Shaw Festival. The season opens with Harley Granville Barker's The Madras House, about the developing role of women, both domestically and in the work place, at the beginning of the last century, directed by Sam Walters, opens on 6th September; Shaw's Major Barbara, in which an arms manufacturer is in conflict with his daughter who is in the Salvation Army, also directed by Walters, opens on 18th October; two triple bills of Shaw's short plays, Augustus Does His Bit, Flaherty VC and Press Cuttings, centering on war and conflict, and How He Lied To Her Husband, Overruled and Village Wooing, about male/female relationships, play from 13th November; and Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance, in a Mafiosi style production, adapted and directed by Chris Monks, opens on 20th December.