Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
The National Theatre has announced two "outside the bunker" projects. Fiona Shaw is to perform T S Eliot's epic poem The Waste Land at Wilton's Music Hall in the East End. It is directed by Deborah Warner, and plays from 14th December to 11th January, mostly twice nightly at 7.30pm and 8.45pm. Wilton's, the oldest surviving music hall in London, is in Grace Alley off Cable Street E1. Booking is through the National box office. The other venture is a tour of Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop classic Oh, What A Lovely War!, which opens in a tent in Milton Keynes in April, and is likely to come to an outdoor site near the National. Perhaps it will inaugurate the new riverside Theatre Square if it is finished in time.
Show Boat has won the race for the Prince Edward Theatre. The American touring company of Hal Prince's recent Broadway production will open a limited season on 28th April, playing until 18th October. It is produced by LiveEnt the original American producer. A simpler "bus and truck" version may tour here following this.
The RSC season at the Young Vic resumes with a repertoire starting with two transfers from Stratford. Henry VIII, starring Paul Jesson, Jane Lapotaire and Ian Hogg, directed by Gregory Doran, opens on 18th February. It will be joined by Leslie Phillips, Peter Egan, Susannah York and Darrell D'Silva in Tennessee Williams' Camino Real, directed by Stephen Pimlott on 3rd March. A new joint RSC/Young Vic co-production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, with Stephen Dillane, Anastasia Hille and Linus Roache, directed by Katie Mitchell follows on 12th April. The season continues until 2nd May.
Rupert Graves and Clarke Peters will join Kevin Spacey when he makes his London theatre debut in the spring. The previously mentioned Almeida Theatre production of Eugene O'Neil's The Iceman Cometh is to be directed by Howard Davies.
Alan Ayckbourn's new play Things We Do For Love opens at the Gielgud Theatre on 3rd March, produced by Michael Codron. A landlady who rents out her top floor flat to an old friend, falls in love with the accompanying fiancée. The extraordinary nature of the set, which is split level, encompassing the ceiling of one room and the floor of the flat above, imposes sightline problems which has restricted the number of theatres in which it could be played. However, the combination of Ayckbourn, Codron and Gielgud has proved a winner many times in the past.
Alan Howard is to star in Mikhall Bulgakov's Flight, in a new version by Ron Hutchinson, at the National Theatre from 12th February, directed by Howard Davies. Bulgakov was a critic of the cultural failure of post revolutionary Russia, as depicted in Black Snow, shown at the National in 1991. Flight, his most ambitious work, which was written in 1927, was never produced in his lifetime.
The Rumour Machine says: that English National Opera has felt the Department of Culture's jackboot. Music director Paul Daniel has been making a nightly appeal to audiences for support against merger plans with the Royal Opera, but now one of the cast has taken on this task. Apparently this has nothing to do with a call from Chris Smith suggesting things were more likely to go his way if he stopped. Well would you take the chance of meeting Peter Mandelson one night in the dark alley at the side of the Coliseum? The Rumour Machine grinds on.