News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th February 1999

Award winning Russian clown Slava Polounine returns to London with Slava's Snowshow at the Piccadilly Theatre from 2nd March to 10th April. Once again the show will be a combination of visual acts and comedy, which changes from performance to performance. It has been described as being to clowning, what Cirque du Soliel is to circus. Associated Capital Theatres is producing with Hackney Empire.

Paul Elliott, Britain's Pantomime King (Oh yes he is!) is merging his E&B Productions with Nick Thomas and Jon Conway's AMG (Artists Management Group) to form Qdos Entertainment. Both companies will continue to operate under their own names, but with a one board, and from the same office. They have collaborated on a number of projects in the past, most recently with Boogie Nights. E&B will handle theatrical production, while AMG's business takes in a talent agency, and both companies have merchandising arms.

The reopening season events at the Royal Opera House will include an opening gala featuring both the Opera and Ballet, and headlined by Placido Domingo, and a new production of Verdi's Falstaff directed by Graham Vick. The first actual performances will be given in the new Studio theatre as part of a schools programme, and there will also be free lunchtime concerts in the restored Floral Hall foyer. Imports will include Peter Sellars' Salzberg Festival hit Le Grand Macabre, Pier Luigi Pizzi's production of Otello from Pesaro, and David Pountney's Bregenz staging of The Greek Passion.

Mark Rattray is to star in Lanza - The Last Serenade which opens a six month tour at the Civic Theatre Chelmsford on 25th February. A compilation backstage bioshow in the Jolson mode, featuring many of Lanza's classic songs, it is written by Dave Dennison, directed by Carole Todd and produced by Surefire Entertainments.

Swimming against the current tide of British talent heading to Broadway, Olympia Dukakis will make her British stage debut at the National Theatre on 24th June, in the world premiere of Martin Sherman's new one woman play Rose. She plays an elderly Jewish woman recalling her life, which has spanned Eastern European pogroms, Nazi Germany and finally contemporary America. The director is Nancy Meckler. Booking is not yet open.

ShowTrans, the audio description service in Broadway theatres aimed at the international audience, is proving so successful that it is now installed at eight shows, with more to come. It offers not simultaneous translation, but a simple orientation commentary to back up the live experience, and is therefore most suited to musicals. Audience members hire a mobile phone sized receiver, with a choice of up to six languages, delivered through a single earpiece, so that they principally hear the live action. For the theatres it is a fully automated system, with pre-recorded cues triggered by the lighting board. The receivers work either through an existing infra-red hearing system or by radio transmission. Find out more via the link to the ShowTrans site from our Suppliers section.

The award winning Off Broadway revue When Pigs Fly is coming to The Arts Theatre from 11th February to 3rd April. Conceived by Howard Crabtree and Mark Waldrop, with sketches and lyrics by Mark Waldrop and music by Dick Gallagher, it played for two years in New York. The show is a semi autobiographical story about staging a musical, providing a showbizzy view of life in the "extravagance on a shoestring" manner of Beach Blanket Babylon which also played at The Arts two years ago. It is directed by Andrew Neil and produced by Andrew Christian.

The 10th Garsington Opera season, running from 14th June to 11th July, will comprise of the British premiere of Richard Strauss' Die Lieber der Danae directed by David Fielding; Mozart's Die Entfuhrung as dem Serail directed by Stephen Unwin; and Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri directed by Michael McCaffery. The operas are performed on a terrace at the end of the manor house, within the gardens created in the 1920's by Lady Ottoline and Philip Morrell, while the audience is in a purpose built auditorium. Performance times are 5.45pm or 6.15pm.

Has the Marx Brothers musical comedy Animal Crackers started a trend? Is entertainment making a welcome return? The King's Head Theatre is staging A Saint She Ain't for a six week run from 20th April. It's a musical adaptation of a Moliere play, relocated to 1940's Hollywood, with each character played by a star of the time, including Mae West, Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth and Abbott and Costello. Book and lyrics are by Dick Vosbrough and music by Denis King. Ned Sherrin directs a cast which includes Jessica Martin, Brian Greene and Barry Cryer as W C Fields.

The previously mentioned Royal Shakespeare Company production of King Lear, with Nigel Hawthorne, directed by Yukio Ninagawa, will open at the Barbican in October following a season in Japan. This marks Ninagawa's RSC debut, although other productions have been seen at the Barbican. Further additions to the BITE: 99 season at the Barbican during the Summer are: the return of the Gesher Theatre from Israel, with a production called City, based on Isaac Babel's stories of the Jewish community in Odessa, before the rise of Communism; and a stage version of the children's television programme Wizadora.

The Rumour Machine says: that David Suchet may take Amadeus to Broadway in the Autumn; and that the previously mentioned production of Hay Fever with Geraldine McEwan will be directed by Declan Donnellan and produced by Duncan Weldon in July. The Rumour Machine grinds on.