News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th March 2004

The previously mentioned UK premiere production of David Lindsay-Abaire's Off Broadway hit Fuddy Meers, at Birmingham Rep from 16th April to 8th May, will transfer to the Arts Theatre from 20th May. A black comedy about a woman who loses her memory every night - until she is kidnapped, it stars American actors Kate Finneran and Matthew Lillard, and Julia Mackenzie, Charlotte Randle and John Gallagher, and is directed by Angus Jackson. The producers are Scamp and Fiery Angel.

The Barbican has announced further events in its BITE:04 season including: Israel's Batsheva Dance Company performing Naharin's Virus, choreographed by Ohad Naharin to a fusion of Arabic and Israeli music by Habib Alla Jamal; Canada's Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes with Provenance, which follows the fortunes of a mysterious figure frozen in a painting who is sold and stolen, displayed and desired over the course of a century; Marianne Faithfull in The Black Rider, a play combining the talents of director Robert Wilson, composer Tom Waits and writer William Burroughs, inspired by the German folk take of a clerk who makes a Faustian pact; the return of Complicite's The Elephant Vanishes, based on short stories by Haruki Murakami, which uncovers the surreal in everyday life in Japan; and France's Les Arts Florissants with a new production of Rameau's comic opera Les Paladins by Jose Montalvo.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Almeida Theatre production of Edward Albee's The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia? will transfer to the Apollo Theatre from 15th April. The story of a man whose life is thrown into turmoil when he confesses to falling in love with a goat, stars Jonathan Pryce, with Matthew Marsh, Kate Fahy and Eddie Redmayne, and is directed by Anthony Page.

The troubled Hampstead Theatre has announced two further productions. Follow My Leader by Alistair Beaton, with music by Richard Blackford, which 'makes a song and dance about the new world order', and poses questions about Britain's role in the war on terror, will run from 21st April to 15th May. The cast comprises Jason Durr, Martyn Ellis, Dawn Hope, Nicola Hughes, Paul Medford, Stuart Milligan, Giles New, Peter Polycarpou and Sevan Stephan, and the director is Mark Clements. The European premiere production of Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman, about two people struggling for acceptance in 1960s South Carolina, directed by Indhu Rubasignham, will run from 25th May to 19th June. A co-production with Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse.

Finishing The Picture, by Arthur Miller, will receive its world premiere at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, directed by Robert Falls, from 21st September to 31st October. It is based on Miller's experiences during the filming of The Misfits, the last film made by his former wife Marilyn Monroe, for which he wrote the screenplay. When the unstable behaviour of a famously fragile movie star threatens to wreck the shooting of a film, an acting teacher is flown in to coax the actress out of bed and onto the set.

Gwen Taylor, Francis Matthews, Michael Greco and Rosalind Cressy star in the comedy thriller About Alice, by Charles Laurence, directed by David Tailor, currently at the Mercury Theatre Colchester, prior to a national tour. When a woman is approached about the publication of her late husband's memoirs, secrets of her own early life come to light.

Denis Quilley was one of the few actors to have equally distinguished careers on both the musical and classical stages, as well as commercial and subsidised theatres. His autobiography Happiness Indeed: An Actor's Life, just published by Oberon Books, gives a taste of the extraordinary mixture that made up sixty years on the boards. It includes not just anecdotes of encounters with famous faces and on famous stages (and he worked with everyone and everywhere), but also the nuts and bolts of what life was like as a jobbing actor. Laurence Olivier hailed him as "The actor who can do anything" after the first night of possibly his best known role, Acting Captain Terri Dennis in Privates On Parade. Required reading for anyone interested in life upon the wicked stage, from either the audience or the performer's point of view.

On The Casting Couch: The National Theatre production of Michael Frayn's Democracy will open at the Wyndham's Theatre on 20th April with the cast largely unchanged: Roger Allam, Conleth Hill, Nicholas Blane, Paul Broughton, Christoper Ettridge, Paul Gregory, Glyn Grain and David Ryall remain, plus newcommers Simon Chandler and Michael Simkins; and Ben Whishaw will be joined by Samantha Whittaker, plus grownups Imogen Stubbs, Tom Mannion and Nick Jones in Hamlet opening at the Old Vic on 27th April.

Shining City, a new play written and directed by Conor McPherson, will run at the Royal Court Theatre from 9th to 17th July. When a man goes to a counsellor claiming to have seen the ghost of his recently deceased wife, there begins a desperate struggle between the living and the dead. A co-production with the Gate Theatre Dublin.

There is moderately good news about the future of the London Hippodrome, which has been closed since last September. Although not exactly being returned to theatrical use, it is not - as seemed likely - being turned into flats and offices either. Originally designed by Frank Matcham to stage circus, entertainment and water spectaculars, it will in a way, return to its roots, when it reopens on 25th March as Cirque at the London Hippodrome. The new operators plan to stage live music on Fridays, and Moulin Rouge circus style entertainment on Saturdays, with the possibility of adding cabaret during the rest of the week.

George Piper Dances, AKA the Ballet Boyz, Michael Nunn and William Trevitt, with amongst others Oxana Panchenko, open a national tour on 9th March at the Theatre Royal Glasgow, stopping at the Queen Elizabeth Hall from 23rd to 27th March. The programme includes Russell Maliphant's recent Broken Fall; Mesmerics, a new work by Christopher Wheeldon; and William Forsythe's Approximate Sonata, I, V.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has found a New York home at The Ford Center, where it will open on 28th April next year. A new theatre created on the site of (and using architectural features from) the Lyric and Apollo theatres, as part of the 42nd Street regeneration programme in 1998, The Ford Center is one of Broadway's biggest venues. In preparation for the transatlantic flight and switch to left hand drive, the London production is getting a full service, with structural changes and new material. These will be introduced from 16th March, when Gary Wilmot will be joined by Tony Adams as Grandpa Potts, Scarlett Strallen as Truly Scrumptious, Christopher Biggins and Louise Gold as Baron and Baroness Bomburst, and Lionel Blair as The Child Catcher.