News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 5th September 1997

The Royal Shakespeare Company has staged a commercial coup by securing the rights for the British premiere of L'Homme Du Hasard, a new play by Yasmina Reza, author of the hit comedy Art. It will be realised by the dream team of translator Christopher Hampton and director Matthew Warchus, who created the production at Wyndhams, which is probably the most successful new commercial play staged in years. It will be interesting to see if Reza repeats the "bite sized McPlay" formula of the one act, seventy five minute, three hander, or goes for a real play this time. We shall find out at The Pit on 1st April.

Broadway hot ticket musical Rent, originally scheduled for the Prince Of Wales Theatre last spring, has finally found a home. It will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre in May, following the Royal Ballet and Opera season. The show relocates the story of La Boheme in present day Lower Eastside New York, with Aids standing in for consumption. Auditions have so far reduced 3,500 hopefuls to 80, with final casting decisions to be made in December. It is expected that British resident American Krysten Cummings will play Mimi, after launching the Toronto production in November.

Corin and Vanessa Redgrave are making an attempt to take over the Clapham Grand, which is currently a night-club, and return it to theatrical use. Present owners of the building have been refused planning permission to convert it into a theme pub, but are appealing against the decision. The Redgraves hope to turn the Grand into a permanent home for their company Moving Theatre, and incorporate a theatre school. Their aim is to provide a programme of new writing and classic plays.

The Old Vic appears to have started an avalanche of venues for sale. The Break For The Border Group is disposing of the Shepherds Bush Empire and the Brixton Academy in London, together with the Gaiety in Dublin and the Empire in Birmingham. Also in London, the Westminster Theatre and the freehold of the Astoria are on the market. And it's a rollover on the Lottery - is that a sign?

In an attempt to broaden its audience base, English National Opera is reducing its prices, and plans to hold two open days during the season which starts tomorrow. Top price tickets will now be 47.50, and 250 seats at each performance will cost 5 or less, with the Balcony reduced to just 2.50. At the open days next spring, members of the public will be invited to come into the Coliseum, look around, and even perform with the company. Popular opera will be presented in the evening on a "pay what you can afford" basis. The closure of its rival, the Royal Opera House, has boosted corporate entertainment business, and for the first time the pre opening advance, has reached 1m.

The annual Christmas extravaganza Joy To The World will reach its tenth birthday at the Royal Albert Hall on 16th December. The event usually contains every conceivable Yuletide goody, including a partridge in a pear tree. Cliff Richard, Sian Phillips, Sir John Mills and Ned Sherrin will be amongst those taking part.

The Thorndike Theatre Leatherhead is to reopen this autumn under the management of a cinema company, Screenworks. The theatre's scenic workshop will be converted into a 180 seat cinema to improve the financial viability of the building. The venue will become solely a receiving house, rather than a producing one. Paul Maurel, formerly of the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness, has been appointed theatre director. No opening date has yet been announced.