News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th April 2002

The Bush Theatre has cause for a double celebration, as having launched its 30th anniversary season, Richard Cameron's The Glee Club transfers to the Duchess Theatre on 22nd April. Set in 1962, it tells the story of five Yorkshire miners and a church organist who are the toast of the local working men's club circuit, but both musical taste and their lives are about to change. The cast includes David Bamber and David Schofield. Mike Bradwell, artistic director of the Bush, directs his thirtieth production for the company.

The Theatre Museum is presenting further events celebrating the great achievements of actors and directors past and present in the British theatre. Peggy Ashcroft, Ralph Richardson and Noel Coward will be featured on Sundays 21st and 28th April and 5th May respectively. An archival presentation by theatre historian Frances Hughes will be followed by a discussion chaired by Gyles Brandreth, with guests including Michael Billington, Geraldine James, Janet Suzman, Greg Hicks, Sarah Kestelman, Judy Campbell and Sheridan Morley. Further information can be found on the Theatre Museum web site via the link from the Information section of TheatreNet.

The national tour of the recent West End and Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King And I will open at Edinburgh Playhouse on 19th April. Stefanie Powers will star in the first part of the year long schedule, with Marti Webb taking over in July, while Ronobir Lahiri will play the King throughout. The show is directed by Christopher Renshaw.

Geraldine McNulty stars in Karen McLachlan's black comedy Betty opening at the Vaudeville Theatre on 9th July. The one woman show was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe two years ago. It is directed by Kathy Burke and produced by Katharine Dore Management. The company will also be presenting Joseph Kesselring's Arsenic And Old Lace, the black comedy about two prim old ladies who poison 'sad and lonely old men' as a act of charity, opening at the Strand Theatre on 2nd July.

The first National Music Hall and Variety Festival, celebrating a century of British light entertainment, will be held from 18th to 21st April at Weston-super-Mare, in association with the Grand Order of Water Rats and the British Music Hall Society. Among those taking part will be Wyn Calvin, Chris Emmett, Roy Hudd, Jimmy Perry, Bill Pertwee and The Roly Polys. The day long programme of events will cover everything from puppets to pantomime, and clowns to illusions, with performances, workshops, exhibitions, films and lectures. Full details can be found on the NMHVF web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

My One And Only, the 'new' Gershwin musical starring Janie Dee and Tim Flavin, is to make West End history by abandoning Monday evening performances in favour of a second midweek matinee on Thursdays from next month. Sunday performances have not taken off in London as they have in New York, but a more flexible approach to performance schedules is to be welcomed as a way of better serving audiences and generating more business.

Maria Friedman is to reprise her one woman show Maria Friedman - By Special Arrangement at the New Ambassadors Theatre from 22nd to 27th April. In the mid evening performances Friedman will sing will a programme of unusual arrangements of song standards (a bossa nova version of The Blue Danube featured last time) accompanied by two pianos (rather than a band as before).

The Theatre Royal Haymarket is holding another Masterclass season for young people who have an interest in theatre, or are keen to pursue a career in the arts. Events are open to people aged 16 and over, and are free of charge - but there is a refundable deposit required confirming the booking. The spring series runs from 30th April to 3rd July, with sessions beginning at 2.30pm and lasting around two hours. The Opening Doors series covers Acting with Loveday Ingram and Dallas Smith; Technical Skills with Paul Arditti and Rick Fisher; Musical Theatre with Janie Dee and Pippa Ailion; and Drama Schools with Geoffrey Colman. The Theatre Makers On Stage series, presented in association with The Mousetrap Foundation, features events linked to Rose Rage, the adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry VI plays, with Edward Hall, Roger Warren and members of the cast, and includes a ticket to the performance. Further information and online booking can be found on the Theatre Royal Haymarket web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Despite doing indifferent business, This Is Our Youth will recast on 22nd April with bigger names, in the shape of Casey Affleck, Matt Damon and Summer Phoenix . . . Emily Watson, Mark Strong and David Bradley are joining Simon Russell Beale in Sam Mendes valedictory Donmar double header of Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night in September.

Neil Pearson, Emma Chambers and Aden Gillett star in Michael Frayn's Benefactors, which opens a prospective pre West End tour at Milton Keynes Theatre on 22nd May. The bleak tragicomedy traces the relationship of two neighbouring professional couples over a period of fifteen years, the fortunes of one rising, while in the other, an architect sees his idealistic dreams frustrated by politics. It is directed Jeremy Sams and produced by the Ambassador Theatre Group.

The Rumour Machine says:; that the musical version of The Three Musketeers, with book by Peter Raby, music by George Stiles and lyrics by Paul Leigh, which was runner up in the 1996 International Musical Of The Year competition, will finally have its West End premiere in the autumn, directed by Matthew Francis; that Boy George may join the cast of his show Taboo - but not playing himself; and that 125th Street, a show that celebrates the music of the black groups of the '60s, is aiming for the West End in October. The Rumour Machine grinds on.