News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 4th October 2002

The Little Angel Marionette Theatre in Islington (a stone's throw from the King's Head), which is the oldest and most respected puppet theatre in Britain, is back in business after a six month struggle to stave off permanent closure. The home of British puppetry lost local council funding two years ago, and private funding with the death of a major benefactor. The theatre had staged its uniquely entertaining shows every weekend throughout the year and during the week in school holidays, as well as touring at home and abroad, on miniscule resources. A six month fundraising campaign attracted wide ranging support from both celebrities and the public, and a total of 180,000 has been achieved. The theatre reopens this month with Jonah And The Whale, while Romeo And Juliet and The Frog Prince will be presented on tour, and a large scale production of Beauty And The Beast will be the Christmas attraction. Further information can be found on the Little Angel web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The rout of West End musicals from their previous domination of Broadway continues with the news that Les Miserables will close with its 6612th performance on 15th March, just 3 days after its 16th birthday, making it the second longest running musical after Cats. However, Andrew Lloyd Webber has threatened a production of Bombay Dreams in the spring. Meanwhile Baz Lurman's production of La Boheme, sung in Italian but relocated to the Paris of 1957, has fixed an opening date of 8th December at the Broadway Theatre, the former home of Miss Saigon. It features three alternating pairs of "lean, sexy and in their '20s" opera singers in the leading roles.

On The Casting Couch: Despite rumours of a host of American names, the casting apple has fallen closer to the tree than the Big one for Trevor Nunn's valedictory National Theatre production of Cole Porter's Anything Goes, in the forms of Sally Ann Triplett, Dennis Quilley, Mary Stockley, Annette McLaughlin, and John Barrowman (who was in the last West End production of the show).

The Barbican has announced plans to become involved in production, using the extra money available as a result of the departure of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The centre sees its future not just as a receiving house, as it has been in the past for its BITE seasons, but initiating co-productions of classic texts, including Shakespeare, with companies from around the world. It will not be setting up its own resident on site production team or facilities however, but working on a project by project basis. The Barbican has also announced yet another makeover of its entrances and foyers in order to make them more recognisable, easily negotiable, and welcoming. The 12m scheme will be spread over a three year period, and will not involve any closure of the building.

Though the season of performances has come to an end, Shakespeare's Globe continues its programme of staged readings of rarely performed works by Shakespeare's contemporaries on Sunday afternoons. In November: 3rd: Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women - incest and murderous revenge based on a true story. 10th: John Marston, William Barksted and Lewis Machin's The Insatiate Countess - wife swapping and sexual obsession leads to murder. 17th: John Lyly's Sappho And Phao - love across social barriers and the tension between prohibition and desire. 24th: Shakespeare's Venus And Adonis - perhaps the most famous erotic poem in the world. Each reading is preceded at 12noon by an introduction to its background. Further information can be found on the Shakespeare's Globe web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The stampede of American actors from screen to stage continues. Following his current appearance in the New York based National Actors Theatre's production of The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui, Al Pacino has two other theatre projects for the Actors Studio lined up. First, he will take part in a reading of Oscar Wilde's Salome, alongside Marisa Tomei, Dianne Wiest, David Strathairn and Liev Schreiber, at St. Anne's Warehouse in November. Then he will play the title role in Oedipus Rex, at the new Daryl Roth Theatre, although no date has been finalised.

The Word International Writers Season is a series of conversations and lectures taking place at the Apollo Theatre from 6pm to 7pm on Wednesdays until mid December. Those taking part include Martin Amis, Alan Ayckbourn, Michael Billington, Richard Eyre, Salman Rushdie, Jeanette Winterton, Sandi Toksvig and Germaine Greer.

The Pleasance in Edinburgh has spawned so many performance spaces in the last few years that it must be hard for the management to keep track of them all. Now the Pleasance in London has created a 60 seater studio from former offices, which will run alongside the 300 seater main venue. It will be launched on 17th October with the Edinburgh Fringe hit Who's Harry?, written by Henry Fleet and directed by Pip Pickering, about a salesman who is a compulsive liar (not a play of revelations then).

New York is to have a Walk of Stars to rival the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which will salute legendary performers in the worlds of theatre, film, television, music and dance. The Broadway Walk of Stars will begin on the sidewalks of Broadway at Times Square, with specially designed stars placed in the sidewalks throughout the area. Something new to look at while queuing at the tkts booth.

The Rumour Machine says: that in the 'it's dead but it won't lie down' department, Kenneth Lonegran's angst ridden rich kids sex'n'drugs fest This Is Our Youth will return to the Garrick Theatre in November, with further trios of small time film actors in limited runs, starting with Colin (son of Tom) Hanks; that Nicholas Hyntner is living up to the promise he made at the inaugural meeting of Mercury Musical Developments, to treat musical theatre seriously when he takes over at the National - signalling a definite regime change he has snapped up Jerry Springer: The Opera from under commercial management's noses; and that the previously mentioned reworking of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tell Me On A Sunday with Denise Van Outen, will be going to the Gielgud Theatre in May, with Matthew Warchus directing. The Rumour Machine grinds on.