News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th September 2003

Anthony Head will be doubling not just Captain Hook and Mr Darling in J M Barrie's Peter Pan, but also The Pirate King in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance, in a season at the Savoy Theatre. The boy who would not grow up arrives on 15th December, to be joined in repertoire by the nare-do-wells of Newlyn from 6th January. Both are new productions directed by Steven Dexter, which will run until 20th March. The season is produced by Raymond Gubbay, who will be subjecting London to yet another version of The Nutcracker, this time by the Moscow Stanivlasky Ballet, from 22nd December to 4th January at the Royal Festival Hall - where English National Ballet started the Christmas Nutcracker tradition - together with Swan Lake, from 7th to 11th January. Gubbay's next arena opera production at the Royal Albert Hall will be will be Puccini's La Boheme, in a new translation by David Parry, directed by Francesca Zambello, running from 26th February to 13th March.

The 11th London Open House, the annual scheme to allow the public into architecturally interesting but usually private buildings across the capital, takes place on 20th and 21st September. A record number of over 500 locations will include old favourites of theatrical interest such as the Lyric Hammersmith, Old Vic, The Place, Royal Court, Royal Opera House and Soho theatres, St John's Smith Square concert hall, BBC Bush House and Television Centre, Alexander Palace theatre and TV studios, ITN and Channel 4 buildings, the BFI Imax, Gaumont State Kilburn, Granada Woolwich, Grand Clapham, Odeon Muswell Hill and Phoenix cinemas, and Sands Film Studio & Rotherhythe Picture Research Library. They will be joined this year by amongst others the Dominion theatre, the new homes of LAMDA and Laban Dance, Ealing Studios and the Talkback Productions building. There are also conducted walks taking place at various locations over the course of the weekend. In 2002 half a million visits were made during the two days. Entrance is free, and some venues include accompanying special events. Further information 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.

Covent Garden is staging three exhibitions as part of its ROH Too programme. Johan Persson showcases the lesser known side of the former principle dancer, who combined a career with The Royal Ballet with a passion for photography, with a collection of his pictures of the company in rehearsal and performance, on display until November. Love And Hate raids the Royal Opera House archives to examine the depiction of passion in ballet and opera productions over the years, with particular reference to earlier versions of works being performed this season, continuing until February. Willard W White celebrates the 25th anniversary of the singer's Covent Garden debut with a photographic chronology of his appearances, showing from October to February. Entry to these exhibitions is free Monday to Saturday from 10am to 3.30pm, and to ticket holders attending performances.

Hamish Glen starts his artistic directorship of the Belgrade Theatre Coventry by directing Kander and Ebb's musical The Rink, which explores the bittersweet relationship between a mother and daughter who get together again after years apart, playing from 11th September to 4th October. It stars Diane Langton (who played the daughter in the original West End production) as the mother, and Lucy Williamson, and the choreographer is Rita Henderson.

The Gate Theatre is presenting a season of three reworked Greek classics this autumn, in a season titled Under The Curse. Tom Paulin's The Riot Act, a critique of political and moral hypocrisy based on Sophocles Antigone, runs from 15th September to 11th October; Jean Giraudoux's Electra, which relocates the story told by Sophocles and Euripides in pre Second World War France, as a darkly comic expose of bourgeois complacency, plays from 20th October to 15th November; and Goethe's version of Euripides Iphigenia In Tauris, a far less bleak take on Iphigenia's struggle to free her family from the curse which has dogged generations, runs from 24th November to 13th December.

On The Casting Couch: Sinead Cusack and John Hannah are to star in Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat at the Almeida Theatre on 30th October; Helen Baxendale will make her West End debut with Kelly Reilly and Richard Coyle in After Miss Julie at the Donmar Warehouse on 25th November; and Timothy Dalton returns to the stage with Patricia Hodge and Niamh Cusack in Nicholas Wright's adaptation of His Dark Materials at the National Theatre on 4th December.

There are national Shakespeare Associations across the world, but until now there has not been a British Shakespeare Association. In February 2002, a group of academics, teachers, actors and interested Shakespeareans met at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford to inaugurate the BSA. A steering group with representatives from universities, schools, the theatre and the general community, developed the final form of the organisation, and it came to fruition at a conference held at de Montfort University in Leicester from 29th to 31st August. Judi Dench is the BSA's Patron, and among those associated with the event were actors David Rintoul and Sam West, directors Greg Doran and Michael Bogdanov, and leading academic professor Stanley Wells. Further information can be found on the BSA web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Opera North's autumn touring season starts on 18th September at the Grand Theatre in Leeds. It features new productions of Dvorak's Rusalka, with Giselle Allen and Stuart Skelton, directed by Olivia Fuchs; and Massenet's Manon, with Malin Bystrom, Julian Gavin, William Dazeley and Jonathan Best, directed by Daniel Slater; plus a revival of Annabel Arden's production of Verdi's La traviata, with Janis Kelly, Tom Randle and Robert McFarland.

The Rumour Machine says: that 'director to the stars' Laurence Boswell has signed a deal as a producer/director with the Ambassador Theatre Group which will see him stage Jake Gyllenhaal in Romeo And Juliet, Calista Flockhart in Ibsen's The Dolls House, and Lenny Henry in Trevor Griffiths Comedians in their West End theatres. The Rumour Machine grinds on.