News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th August 2005

As part of the Summer In The Square programme of free events taking place in Trafalgar Square from June to September, the Trafalgar Square Festival is being held Thursdays to Sundays from 4th to 21st August. The general theme of the Festival is City Rites, with each weekend showcasing a different aspect, through music, dance, acrobatics, street theatre and performance art. 4th to 7th August The City Dreams will explore the inner life of London; 11th to 14th The City Speaks will reflect the capital's many different voices; and 18th to 21st The City Celebrates will bring the Festival to an upbeat climax. All Thursday performances start at 6pm, Friday performances at 9pm and Saturday and Sunday performances at 3pm. Further information can be found on the TAF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Update: The new show by Sean Foley and Hamish McColl (aka The Right Size) Ducktastic!, opening at the Albery Theatre on 17th October will also feature Liz Crowther, Clive Hayward, Alex Kelly, Ruby Snape and Daphne (the duck). Inspired by the Las Vegas illusionists Siegfried and Roy, it is the story of Sassoon and La Rue, illusionists on a more modest scale, who work with a duck instead of Siberian tigers. The show is directed by Kenneth Branagh, with choreography by Michael Rooney, and magic by Simon Drake, and is produced by David Pugh. It will play a pre London season at the Theatre Royal Newcastle from 2nd to 17th September.

The new season at Birmingham Repertory Theatre includes: Maureen Lipman as Florence Foster Jenkins in Glorious, by Peter Quilter, about the socialite who gave supposedly serious classical concert performances in the 1920s and 1930s, singing so out of tune that she became a cult figure, with Barrie Ingham, Josie Kidd, William Oxborrow and Lolly Susi, directed by Alan Strachan, opening on 2nd September; Timothy West in Bertolt Brecht's The Life Of Galileo, translated by David Edgar, about the persecution of the philosopher by the church for his radical views about astronomy and science, directed by Jonathan Church, opening on 28th October; the return of The Wizard Of Oz, John Kane's adaptation of the screenplay of L Frank Baum's novel, with music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E Y Harburg, opening on 30th November; Chekhov's Three Sisters, given a 1930s Caribbean makeover by Mustapha Matura, directed by Paulette Randall, opening on 24th February; and Promises And Lies, a contemporary musical with book by Jess Walters, using the songs of UB40, opening on 20th March.

The Theatre's Trust, the national body whose purpose is to promote the better protection of theatres, has received a 50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to expand its online archive. A veritable treasure trove for theatre enthusiasts, the Trust's entire database contains records of over 3,400 theatres past and present, with architects drawings, posters, engravings and photographs of theatres and performances. Currently there are over 700 venues online, searchable by theatre name, town, date of construction or architect, with a wealth of historical and other information, and links to theatre websites where available. The grant should enable another 8,000 images to be added by the end of 2006. Further information can be found on the TT web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Lyric Theatre Hammersmith has announced its autumn season, which includes Julius Caesar, a contemporary production directed by David Farr, opening on 2nd September; Shared Experience's Bronte, written and directed by Polly Teale, with Diane Beck, Catherine Cusack, David Fielder, Natalia Tena, Matthew Thomas and Fenella Woolgar, evoking the real and imagined worlds of the household of writers Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Bramwell Bronte, opening on 1st November; Ben Hopkins's Magic Carpet, adapted by Hopkins and David Farr, who also directs, the tale of two adventurous young thieves who steal the treasure of the Sultan of Arabia and set off on an epic journey across the desert, opening on 2nd December; Kneehigh Theatre's production of Angela Carter's Nights At The Circus, adapted by Tom Morris and Emma Rice, who also directs, about a trapeeze artist and a journalist at the turn of the 20th century, opening on 20th January; and The Odyssey, a contemporary retelling of Homer's epic, adapted and directed by David Farr, opening on 24th February.

Update: Tom Stoppard's new English version of the hit French play by Gerald Sibleyras, opening at Wyndham's Theatre on 18th October, is now to be called Heroes. Set in a military veterans' hospital in 1959, it stars Richard Griffiths, John Hurt and Ken Stott as three inmates who are planning their escape. It is directed by Thea Sharrock, and produced by David Pugh.

The 50th anniversary season at New York's Public Theater is comprised entirely of premieres: David Grimm's Measure For Pleasure, Restoration comedy meet modern sex farce exploring the elusive nature of happiness, directed by Peter Dubois; See What I Wanna See, words and music by Michael John Lachusa, a musical telling three New York stories of faith, loss and redemption, directed by Ted Sperling; Dana Son's Satellites, a comedy questioning parenting, racial identity, community and the way we live now, directed by Michael Grief; Anna Deavere Smith's Let Me Down Easy, asking what is happening to our physical selves in a society where human interactions are devalued; Rinne Groff's The Ruby Sunrise, about one woman's struggle to see that her mother's story is told; and Jose Rivera's School Of The Americas, an imaginary account of an actual meeting of a village schoolteacher and Che Guevara in the Bolivian jungle.

Wayne Sleep, James Bisp, Cate Debenham-Taylor, James Head, Rachel Izen, William Ludwig and Sorelle Marsh will star in Into Thin Air!, a new musical comedy, with book, music and lyrics by Robert A Gray, directed and choreographed by Stewart Nicholls, opening at the New Players Theatre on 1st September. When an RAF pilot arrives at her new station she finds she has time warped into the 1950s - cue confusion.

The Rumour Machine says: that Diana Rigg is to play Lady Bracknell in a West End production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest, directed by Philip Prowse, later this year; that composer Monty Norman is working on a stage musical based on Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim; and that Patricia Routledge will star in a new play also coming to the West End later this year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.