News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th March 1999

The long 25th anniversary tour of Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show finally reaches London (albeit slightly off West End) at the Victoria Palace from 20th April to 12th June - although it's hard to believe it has ever been away. This time Jason Donovan is in Frank 'N' Furter's corset and stilettos, but the incumbent of the Narrator's smoking jacket is still under negotiation. There will be a special Come Again Offer for regular visitors, but no news so far about costume hire. Christopher Malcolm directs and the Turnstyle Group is producing.

The Oxford Stage Company is to establish a West End presence at the Whitehall Theatre. Their currently touring production of Making Noise Quietly, a trilogy of short plays by Robert Holman, featuring Eleanor Bron, Peter Hanly and John Lloyd Fillingham, will open on 19th April. The plays depict chance encounters between strangers, each overshadowed by a war, and are directed by Deborah Bruce. This will be followed from 27th May, by Chekhov's Three Sisters, in a new adaptation by Sam Adamson, again after a regional tour. It features Kelly Reilly, Claudie Blakley, Claire Rushbrook and Indira Vama, and is directed by Dominic Dromgoole, OSC's new artistic director.

Fresh from their previously mentioned tussle with the King's Head, the London Borough Grants committee has now completely lost the plot. The latest plan is to restrict funding to only two theatre buildings in each borough. Since there are six venues in Camden and three in many other boroughs, this will have a catastrophic effect on major organisations, such as Hampstead Theatre, Hackney Empire, Sadler's Wells, the Young Vic and Battersea Arts Centre. Although the existing grants are relatively small, since all the theatres are on a financial knife edge, losing any amount could be critical.

This year's Covent Garden Festival of Opera and Music Theatre runs from 17th May to 5th June. Highlights include Pocket Opera Company of Nurenberg's Der Ring - the Ring cycle reduced to one four hour performance; English Touring Opera's Festival debut with Verdi's Macbeth and Donizetti's Daughter Of The Regiment; the world premiere of Let Him Have Justice, a musical play based on the Derek Bentley case; a concert performance of Noel Coward's After The Ball; and Richard Strauss' The Donkey's Shadow narrated by Peter Ustinov. Although their web site has yet to be updated, you can register to receive a brochure via the link from our Festivals section.

Keith Waterhouse's new comedy Bing Bong is currently at the Chester Gateway, prior to a three month tour, and hopefully a West End home. The play explores the working relationship of a television sitcom writing partnership, struggling to deliver their latest series, from which darker undercurrents emerge. It features Dennis Waterman, Patrick Mower, Harry Towb and Kate McGeever. This will be the sixth time Waterhouse has teamed up with director Ned Sherrin, none of the succeeding occasions, it must be said, quite repeating the success of the original - Jeffrey Barnard Is Unwell.

Inspired by the Royal Court selling its name for a mess of pottage (whatever that is) to the Jerwood Foundation, The Place dance centre is preparing to do the same. Having received a 5m Lottery grant for its redevelopment programme, it has so far only raised only half of the 2m it needs in matching funding. So if you have 1m to spare and you fancy putting your name about, Chairman Ian Fisher is the man to call. The Place web site can be found via a link from our UK London Venues section.

Following his success with Tosca, Raymond Gubbay has already announced next year's opera in the round spectacular at the Royal Albert Hall. It will be the return of his water garden production of Puccini's Madam Butterfly, which is a new translation by Amanda Holden. The director is Opera Factory's David Freeman and the designer David Roger. Booking is now open for a first night on 3rd February 2000.

Inspirations: The writing comes from somewhere else. I often have the experience of having written something and when I look at it later saying: "Who wrote that?" I've no idea . . . I do hear voices, yes. - Harold Pinter whose play Betrayal is now at the National Theatre.

After the disastrous try out of Elaborate Lives: The Legend Of Aida in Atlanta, Disney are not taking any chances this time. A stage adaptation of their animated musical film of the Victor Hugo novel The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, has just started rehearsals in New York, but it is playing in Berlin. It opens on 5th June at the new Musical Theatre at the Potsdamer Platz, and is co-produced with Stella Ag, who are the London producers of Beauty And The Beast. With book by James Lapine, who also directs, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, there are nine new songs in addition to the existing numbers from the film. The international cast of forty two will first learn the piece in English, and then be taught the German translation phonetically.

Meanwhile the revised and now renamed Aida, under the new creative team of director Robert Falls, choreographer Wayne Cilento and designer Bob Crowley, is set for another try out, in Chicago next Christmas. It may then finally arrive in New York at the Palace Theatre, necessitating the transfer of Beauty And The Beast (currently starring the original Annie Andrea McArdle) to another venue.