News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th May 2000

Two shows produced by Green and Lenagan which are/have been touring will arrive in the West End in the next few weeks. Mind Game, the first stage play by television writer Anthony Horowitz, will open at the Vaudeville Theatre on 5th June. Richard Baron directs Simon Ward, Christopher Blake and Helen Hobson in the thriller in which a celebrated writer arrives at an experimental prison hospital to interview a notorious serial killer. A Busy Day a comedy by Fanny Burney, with Stephanie Beacham, Sara Crowe, Richard Kane John McCallum and Ben Moor, directed by Jonathan Church, will open in early June. The play was written in 1799 but lay neglected and unperformed for nearly 200 years, before the original manuscript was discovered in America and was given its British premiere.

It has been revealed that the French musical Notre-Dame de Paris, starring Tina Arena and Daniel Lavoie, will be performed without a live band, to a backing track made by just four French musicians. The British Musicians Union has come to an agreement with the show's London producer Michael White to employ six musicians to play in the foyer of the Dominion Theatre during the incoming and the interval. More information on the show, which opens on 23rd May, is available from the web site via the link opposite.

The Royal Court Theatre's summer productions will feature British premieres in both auditoria. Downstairs continues the Court's Irish obsession with Marina Carr's On Rafferty's Hill opening on 3rd July. It features Kieran Ahern, Tom Hickey and Michael Tierney, directed by Garry Hynes and is a co-production with Druid Theatre Company. Upstairs, the final work by Sarah Kane 4.48 Psychosis, directed James Macdonald runs from 24th June to 15th July. The central character dreams of going to the doctor's and being given eight minutes to live. In September David Hare will direct his new play My Zinc Bed, a three hander with Julia Ormond, Steven Mackintosh and Tom Wilkinson, about obsessive and addictive behaviour.

The 400 seat Linbury Studio, created as part of the redevelopment of the Royal Opera House, starts to prove its worth to the resident companies on 20th June. The Royal Ballet will present "The New Work" a two week season which will include the premieres of short works by Matthew Hart, William Tuckett, Christopher Wheeldon, Vanessa Fenton, Jacopo Godani and Poppy Ben David, and the London debuts of Michael Corder's Masquerade and Ashley Page's Sleeping With Audrey. Darcey Bussell, Leanne Benjamin, Jonathan Cope, Johann Kobborg, Bruce Sansom, Sarah Wildor and Miyako Yoshida will be among the dancers taking part.

The world's longest running musical The Fantasticks, with book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, celebrated its 40th anniversary on 3rd May with its 16,562nd performance. It is still playing at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village, the same 135 seat living-room-like theatre where it first opened. There have been over 12,000 productions in America, and over 700 in at least 67 other countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The well known names who have played in different American productions include Jerry Orbach, F. Murray Abraham, Elliott Gould, Liza Minnelli, Richard Chamberlain, John Carradine and Robert Goulet.

Global Music Network is featuring exclusive performances by leading world musicians from both the classical and jazz fields in two free daily webcasts, many of which are live. Visitors to the GMN site can explore their favourite music through different genres, periods and performers. During May, classical enthusiasts will find concerts conducted by Roger Norrington and Charles Mackerras, and for opera lovers there are performances of Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk and Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. Meanwhile for jazz enthusiasts there will be sessions by JJ Johnson, Roy Haynes and Dave Brubeck. All you need to enjoy both audio and visual webcasts is Windows Media Player or RealPlayer, which can be downloaded free of charge on the site. Further information from the GMN web site via the link from the Shows (Webcasts) section of TheatreNet.

Sam Mendes has changed his mind about which play he will direct at Donmar Warehouse Theatre in September. He has been so impressed by a new play by little known writer Nick Whitby, To The Green Fields Beyond, about a First World war tank crew on the eve of battle, that he has postponed the planned production of Twelfth Night. The full cast of Donmar's next production, Orpheus Descending directed by Nicholas Hytner, is Helen Mirren, Stuart Townsend, Saskia Reeves, Sandra Dickinson, William Hootkins, Tom Husinger, Kristin Marks, Jason Salkey, Lolli Susi and Julia Swift.

Reality Check: "The modern composer is a madman who persists in manufacturing an article which nobody wants." - Arthur Honegger.

The Soho Theatre is reprising two of the plays from its opening season for a month long double header run from 18th May. Early evenings: Amanda Whittington's Be My Baby features television names Naomi Radcliffe, Joanne Froggatt and Lucy Speed, and is directed by Abigail Morris. Set in a residential home for unmarried mothers in the 1960s, it centres on a girl's realisation that a knight in shining armour isn't just around the corner. Mid evenings: Jessica Townsend's Angels And Saints with Gabrielle Reidy, Gary Lilburn and Avril Edgar, is directed by Polly Teale. The story unfolds in an English seaside town where a creeping desire takes hold of even the most virtuous inhabitants.

A conference to foster the co-operation of musical theatre producers, artistic directors and theatre owners in creating new musicals will be held at the Performing Right Society on 15th June, with the aim of helping more new writing to move into production. The event is organised in association with the Society Of London Theatre, the Theatrical Management Association, the Mercury Workshop and the Theatre Investment Fund. The conclusions reached will form part of the programme at the annual conference of musical theatre writers from 16th to 18th June (also at the PRS) organised by New Musicals Alliance, with support from the Mackintosh Foundation and Warner Chappell. Further information from the New Musicals web site via the link from the Writing, Writers and Plays section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine On Broadway says: that while audiences figures are at an all time high with over 300,000 attendances a week, so unfortunately (owing to the demands on dancers of ever more ambitious shows) are injuries, with 81 recorded in the last few months, making it the worst season in 10 years; and that Miss Saigon will follow Cats into retirement, and end its run in December. The Rumour Machine grinds on.