News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th January 2006

The Society Of London Theatre is staging a fourth Get Into London Theatre initiative, designed to encourage new and young theatregoers to experience the wealth of theatrical fare to be found all over London. Discounted tickets are available for over 60 shows, including opera, ballet and dance, in over 40 venues, encompassing West End, fringe and suburban theatres. Tickets are at 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 (according to the venue) for selected performances until 24th March. Restaurants are taking part with accompanying deals, and there are also hotels offering special mini-breaks. New for this year, designated youth nights for 16-25 year olds, meet the cast opportunities, a weekly 'Winning Wednesday' prize draw, and discount vouchers valid at some of London's top stores. Booking and further information can be found via the link opposite.

English Touring Theatre is West End bound with a vengeance. Its production of Hamlet, with Ed Stoppard, Anita Dobson, Alice Patten, David Robb and Ben Warwick, directed by Stephen Unwin, will play at the New Ambassadors Theatre from 20th February until 22nd April. ETT's last production of the play in 1994, with Alan Cumming and Eleanor Bron, also transferred to the West End. Meanwhile, its production of Alan Bennett's The Old Country, a bitter sweet story about a spy in exile and the meaning of Englishness, with Timothy West, Simon Williams, Jean Marsh, Rebecca Charles, Tim Delap and Susan Tracy, also directed by Stephen Unwin, will play at the Trafalgar Studios 1 from 13th March to 16th May. It is a co-production with the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford, where it opens a short regional tour on 1st February.

The Soho Theatre has added further productions to its spring season, joining the previously announced Royal Shakespeare Company New Work Festival. These are the premiere of Laura Wade's Other Hands, which examines the idea of love in a world of technology where something that cannot be fixed is simply thrown away, directed by Bijan Sheibani, opening on 15th February; and Cardboard Citizens's production of Visible, by Sarah Woods, in which friends enjoying Sunday lunch on an exclusive estate find their world shaken up, directed by Adrian Jackson, opening on 26th April. The season will also include Moving Words, bringing together new writers and puppeteers; Tiata Delights, a festival celebrating the new work of African writers living in Britain; and Script Slam!, an informal evening of scenes, poetry, comedy and rap from young London writers.

Wicked, the spectacular musical that tells the history of the Good and Wicked Witches of Oz before Dorothy arrived, has broken the Broadway record for the highest weekly box office gross. For the week ending 1st January it took $1,610,934, breaking the previous record of $1,600,243 set by The Producers in the same week two years ago. The show has a book by Winnie Holtzman, and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and is directed by Joe Mantello, with musical staging by Wayne Cilento. It will receive its British premiere at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on 27th September. Overall, 2005 was the highest grossing year on Broadway ever at $825m, a rise of 10.2% on the previous year, and attendances reached 11.98m, a 5.7% increase on 2004, and the highest for 20 years.

On The Casting Couch: Neve Campbell, Matthew Modine, Maximilian Schell, John Wood, Jane Adams and Peter McDonald will star in the British premiere of Arthur Miller's Resurrection Blues, directed by Robert Altman, opening at the Old Vic Theatre on 2nd March.

The spring season at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds will include a co-production with Northern Broadsides of a Wars Of The Roses trilogy, from Shakespeare's Henry VI, Edward IV and Richard III, adapted and directed by Barrie Rutter, which opens a regional tour on 1st April; and the much trailed Bad Girls The Musical, based on the television series set in a women's prison, with book by the original series creators Maureen Chadwick and Ann McManus, and music and lyrics by Kath Gotts, directed by Maggie Norris, which will receive its premiere on 6th June.

The Bush Theatre's next production will be Monsieur Ibrahim And The Flowers Of The Qur'an, from the novella by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, adapted and translated by Patrick Driver and Patricia Benecke, who also directs, opening on 18th January. Nadim Sawalha and Ryan Sampson play multiple roles in the story of an unlikely friendship between a young Jewish boy and old Muslim shopkeeper in 1960s Paris. The producers are Dialogue Productions and Richard Jordan.

The Place is presenting its 17th Resolution! season of new dance ideas and fledgling talent, running until 18th February. Over 100 companies, selected from hundreds of applicants from this country and abroad, have an opportunity to present their work, with three different 30 minute programmes each night. The First Footing strand is open to all who have completed full time dance training, while Evolution is for those who have appeared in the season in previous years, and Aerowaves features works produced elsewhere in Europe. It's a chance to spot the choreographic and dancing stars of tomorrow at bargain prices. Full details can be found on The Place web site, via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The premiere of Jez Butterworth's The Winterling, in which a man in a barn in Devon is visited by two men from London intent on dealing with some unfinished business, directed by Ian Rickson, will join the Royal Court Theatre's 50th anniversary season, opening on 9th March.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Menier Chocolate Factory production of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine musical Sunday In The Park With George will transfer to a West End venue in May; that Gillian Lynne will stage a revue of the songs of Leslie Bricussse, Brick By Brick - particularly apt since his lyrics have often been described as 'Bricusse without straw' - for a prospective pre London tour sometime this year; that television writer Paul Abbott is working on a stage musical, about the race riots of 2001 in his home town of Burnley, to be called BNP: The Musical; that Michael Blakemore will direct An English Tragedy, a new play by Ronald Harwood later this year; and that Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) will star in Peter Shaffer's Equus, directed by Kenneth Branagh, produced by David Pugh, early next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.