News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th September 2009

The Royal Shakespeare Company's forthcoming Stratford production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, with Richard Wilson, Sam Alexander, Nancy Carroll, Alexandra Gilbreath, James Fleet, Richard McCabe, Jo Stone-Fewings and Miltos Yerolemou, directed by Gregory Doran, will transfer to the Duke of York's Theatre, opening on 22nd December. The RSC will stage a new writing season at Hampstead Theatre, at Swiss Cottage, comprising David Greig's Dunsinane, set in 11th century Scotland at the height of a battle for the succession to the throne, directed by Roxana Silbert, from 10th February; and Dennis Kelly's The Gods Weep, about a man whose decision making ability fails him during a corporate power struggle involving national security, directed by Maria Aberg, from 11th March.

Edinburgh Fringe Report: Ticket sales reached an all time high of 1,859,235, up 21% on last year (when, thanks to problems with the new ticketing system, nobody really knows exactly how many seats were sold), and 9% up on the previous record in 2007.

The official Five Pound Fringe initiative, with more than 17,000 tickets sold, and The Stand, where the average ticket price was 7.26, which sold more than 43,000 tickets, show the success of pricing policies designed to beat the recession. There were 34,265 performances of 2,098 shows in 265 venues, featuring 18,901 performers, up from 31,320 performances of 2,088 shows in 247 venues, with 18,792 performers in 2008. Shows came from 60 different countries from Albania to Zimbabwe, up from 46 last year. 465 shows were free, compared to 350 in 2008. Comedy was the biggest category, making up 35% of the programme, with Theatre 28%, Music 16%, Musicals and Opera 5%, Dance and Physical Theatre 5%, Children's 4%, Events 4% and Exhibitions 3%. The Festival Fringe Society is already circulating information for companies wanting to appear in next year's Fringe, running from 6th to 30th August. Interested parties can subscribe to receive a monthly email bulletin, and download a substantial amount of advice about venues, and mounting and selling a show - but they should remember to factor into their calculations that the average audience size for a Fringe show is 6 (or is that just an urban myth?). Further information can be found on the Fringe web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Douglas Carter Beane's Tony Award winning comedy The Little Dog Laughed, about a heartthrob actor whose agent sets up a fake marriage to hide the fact that he is actually gay, with Rupert Friend and Tamsin Grieg, directed by Jamie Lloyd, will open at the Garrick Theatre in January. The producer is Creative Management and Productions.

Irving Berlin's White Christmas, a stage adaptation of the 1954 film, with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, and book by David Ives and Paul Blake, from the screenplay by Norman Krasna, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, with Aled Jones, Adam Cooper, Suzanne Shaw, Rachel Stanley, Roy Dotrice, and Louise Plowright, will play at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth from 10th to 21st November, and then The Lowry in Salford from 27th November to 9th January. Two Second World War veterans turned song and dance men follow a singing sisters act to a Christmas booking at a Vermont lodge, owned by their former army commander, which is suffering from lack of snow - love and precipitation conquers all.

Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, in a new version by Frank McGuinness, examining family, morality and guilt in a mother-son relationship, with Lesley Sharp and Iain Glen, who will also direct, will open at the Duchess Theatre on 23rd February. The producers are Thelma Holt and Nica Burns. The previously mentioned production of Ghosts with Kim Cattrall, translated and directed by Richard Eyre, produced by Sonia Friedman, is now expected to be either postponed, or to open in New York.

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds continues to explore the Georgian repertoire with Thomas Holcroft's He's Much To Blame, a social satire on the vices and virtues of the age, peopled with eccentric characters, with Paul Greenwood, Maggie O'Brien, Paul Chesterton, Jo Tincey, Nick Underwood, Amy Humphreys, Tim Frances, John Cormack, Katie Bonna, Emma Connell and Steve Giles, directed by Colin Blumenau, from 4th September, a co-production with Anvil Arts in Basingstoke, where it transfers on 22nd September. It plays in repertoire with The Celebrated Mrs Inchbald, written and performed by Katie Bonna, recounting the great loves, successes and challenges of the career of the Georgian playwright Elizabeth Inchbald. Jack and the Beanstalk, by Daniel O'Brien, directed by Abigail Anderson, will play from 4th December.

On The Casting Couch: Nicholas Woodeson, David Roper, Sandra Duncan, Marianne Oldham, Robin Whiting, Timothy Watson and Diana Payne Myers will comprise the cast of An Inspector Calls, opening at the Novello Theatre on 25th September.

Disney On Ice's latest show Princess Wishes, featuring classic fairytale heroines from Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, the Little Mermaid Aladdin, Beauty And The Beast, opens a regional tour at the MEN Arena in Manchester on 30th September, with dates including the O2 Arena in London from 28th October.

The Rumour Machine says: that Vanessa Redgrave and Eileen Atkins may star in The Spare Room, Atkins's stage adaptation of Helen Garner's novella about a woman caring for a female friend dying of cancer, late this winter; that the current Broadway musical Rock Of Ages, set in a Hollywood rock club in 1987, book by Chris D'Arienzo, featuring a back catalogue of 1980s pop songs, directed by Kristin Hanggi, with choreography by Kelly Devine, is looking for a West End transfer next spring; that Lynn Nottage's Off Broadway hit Ruined, about the women in a brothel in a war torn African country (inspired by Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage), directed by Indhu Rubasingham, possibly featuring Jenny Jules, may play at the Almeida Theatre, also next spring; and that a musical adaptation of Alan Bennett's 1984 film A Private Function, set in a Yorkshire village in the time of rationing after the Second World War, book by Ron Cowen and Dan Lipman, music by George Stiles, lyrics by Anthony Drewe, may premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds next summer. The Rumour Machine grinds on.