News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th September 2002

Alexander Armstrong, Victoria Hamilton and Jamie Theakston are to star in Somerset Maugham's comedy Home And Beauty, opening at the Lyric Theatre on 29th October. It is the story of a First World War 'widow' who becomes romantically involved and marries her husband's best friend, and then finds that her husband is still alive. Christopher Luscombe directs, and the producer is Bill Kenwright.

The National Theatre is co-producing two plays with Out Of Joint, opening a regional tour on 12th September at Oxford Playhouse, and stopping at the South Bank from 30th November to 11th January and 6th February to 29th March. They are Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops To Conquer, the comedy of class and courtship, and April De Angelis new play A Laughing Matter, about events surrounding its first production at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, in 1773. The company includes Stephen Beresford, Nigel Cooke, Monica Dolan, Fritha Goodey, Bella Merlin, Ian Redford, Owen Sharpe, Matthew Sim, Christopher Staines, Jason Watkins and Jane Wood, directed by Max Stafford-Clark.

The 10th anniversary London Open House, the annual scheme to allow the public into architecturally interesting but usually private buildings across the capital, takes place on 21st and 22nd September. A record number of over 500 locations will include old favourites of theatrical interest such as the London Apollo, Lyric Hammersmith, Old Vic, Royal Court, Royal Opera House and Wimbledon theatres, the Gaumont State Kilburn, the Royal Albert, St John's Smith Square and Wigmore concert halls, BBC Bush House and Television Centre, the ITN and Channel 4 buildings, and Sands Film Studio & Rotherhythe Picture Research Library. They will be joined this year by amongst others, the newly refurbished Place theatre, and Phoenix and Regal Camberwell cinemas, plus Alexander Palace theatre and TV studios, Granada Woolwich, Grand Clapham, Odeon Muswell Hill and The Roundhouse. There are also conducted walks taking place at various locations over the course of the weekend. In 2001 almost half a million visits were made during the two days. Entrance is free, and some venues include accompanying special events. Further details and how to obtain a directory can be found on the London Open House web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

E M Forster's A Passage To India, adapted by Martin Sherman, is the latest literary work to be brought to the stage by Shared Experience, opening a regional tour on 19th September at Richmond Theatre. It is an epic story of the collision of two cultures in India during the British Raj The company includes Paul Bazely, Geoffrey Beavers, Antony Bunsee, Priyanga Elan, Ian Gelder, Daniel Hope, Nicholas Khan, Guy Lankester, Penny Layden and Aaron Neil, and the director is Nancy Meckler.

The previously postponed Abbey Theatre Dublin production of Eugene O'Brien's Eden will open at Arts Theatre on 30th October. Part of the Irish "two blokes talking in a pub" movement, it is two 'intersecting monologues' charting a weekend in the life of a couple with a troubled marriage, performed Catherine Walsh and Don Wycherley, and directed by Conor McPherson. It is presented in the West End by Kevin Wallace, Ted and Norman Tulchin.

Holiday On Ice is launching a new concept next year with In Concert, which will be their first show to feature live musicians, who will be performing on the ice alongside the company of 50 ice dancers. The show, choreographed by Robin Cousins, will also include other multimedia innovations. A nationwide tour opens at the Brighton Centre on 9th January. Further information can be found on the Holiday On Ice website via the link from the Shows section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, David Wood's stage adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG, which recently completed its 20th anniversary tour, starring Anthony Pedley (the original BFG), will come to the West End for a Christmas season at the Playhouse Theatre from 13th November to 5th January. It is the story of young orphan who is whisked off to Giant Country by the 15ft BFG (Big Friendly Giant). Wood directs, and the producer is Edward Snape for Fiery Angel.

The Wigmore Hall will mark the retirement of its long serving director William Lynne with a Director's Festival running from 28th November until 10th May, containing no less than 27 farewell concerts. The Festival will bring together some of the myriad performers who have graced the platform over the last four decades. The Final Gala will have a huge cast, with 22 world class performers already signed. Among the autumn season highlights will be the world premiere of the Naxos Quartet No1 by Peter Maxwell Davies; the first appearance of Frederica von Stade; and The Ladies Almanac, a programme of songs inspired by a women's magazine format. Details of all the Festival events can be found on the Wigmore Hall web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Simon Williams previously mentioned adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story The Hound Of The Baskervilles is playing at the Belgrade Theatre Coventry until 21st September. It stars Julian Forsyth and Daniel Hill, with special effects expert Andrew Deubert creating the Hound of Hell, who brings death to each successive heir of the Baskerville family, here in the form of Chris McQuarry. Bob Eaton directs the co-production with Paul Farrah, which is to tour with the West End in mind.

The Rumour Machine says: that the television series Bad Girls may be heading for the stage; that Denise Van Outen will star in a revised version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song And Dance in the West End; and that Tim Burton is developing a musical based on Batman, for which Jim Steinman will write the lyrics, with Broadway in mind for 2005. The Rumour Machine grinds on.

And Finally . . . Ladies Night, a French play based on the The Full Monty, has closed early at the Comedia Theatre in Paris, after a backstage fist fight between two of the cast. Apparently Christian Mulot heard someone in the wings talking loudly during his onstage monologue, and during the scene change that followed punched Pierre Cosso, breaking his nose, and forcing him to withdraw from the production.