News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th March 2009

Following the successful tour last year of High School Musical, the stage adaptation of Disney's world conquering television film, book by David Simpatico, from the film script by Peter Barsocchini, directed by Jeff Calhoun, with choreography by Lisa Stevens, comes High School Musical 2, the stage adaptation of… well you get the idea, opening an extended national tour at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 22nd August. It continues the story of the high school characters as they take summer jobs at a country club, where there's a Midsummer Night's Talent Show (Dirty Dancing anyone?). The producers are Disney Theatricals and Stage Entertainment.

According to a survey carried out by ICM on behalf of the Association of British Orchestras, people are more likely to buy tickets to a performing arts event than a sports event during a recession. The poll found that the most popular non-essential outgoing during a recession was eating out at 27%, however this was followed by purchasing tickets to a concert, play, opera or ballet at 16%, buying a computer game at 12%, subscribing to a TV package at 9%, then buying tickets to a sports match or a new mobile phone, both 7%. Perhaps worryingly, 55% said they were most likely to do none of these - although 53% felt it was important to support the arts during a recession.

We're Going On A Bear Hunt, the children's picture book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, about a family's adventures in search of a bear, adapted and directed by Sally Cookson, with a score by Benji Bower, is to play daytime performances at the Duchess Theatre, from 9th July to 16th August. The producers are Kenny Wax and Nick Brooke.

The spring season at Birmingham Repertory Theatre will include: Caryl Churchill's Serious Money, the satirical comedy that captured the Big Bang transformation of the City of London finance market in the 1980s, opening on 12th May; and the musical Once On This Island, book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, music by Stephen Flaherty, adapted from the novel by Rosa Guy, set on a Caribbean island, about a peasant girl in love with a wealthy Creole planter, who has to prove to the island's mythical gods that the power of love is stronger than death, with Sharon D Clarke, directed by Susie McKenna, opening on 9th June, a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse, where it transfers from 24th June, and the Hackney Empire, where it plays from 24th July.

Tim Crouch's England, in which tour guides explore the idea of transplants: a heart within a body, and a culture within a country, featuring a sound score by Dan Jones, with Crouch and Hannah Ringham, will play at the Whitechapel Gallery, from 8th May to 16th June. Since its premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2007, Crouch has performed the show in galleries around the world. It is presented by News From Nowhere, the Whitechapel Gallery and the National Theatre.

New York TheatreNet: The Addams Family, a new musical with an original story featuring the macabre characters created by illustrator Charles Addams, book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, directed and designed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, with choreography Sergio Trujillo, will open on Broadway on 8th April next year. The producers are Elephant Eye Theatrical (Stuart Oken, Michael Leavitt and Five Cent Productions) and Roy Furman.

The 54th National Student Drama Festival will take place in Scarborough from 28th March to 3rd April, open to everyone: colleges, youth theatres, community organisations and universities. This year's plays will be No Wonder, Vowel Play, Normal, Elephant's Graveyard, Return To The Silence, Never Enough, Herons, The Wake, The Last Yak, Sad Since Tuesday, Me And My Friend and Tub. In addition to performances, the Festival also has an extensive programme of workshops, masterclasses, debates and other events, with participants including David Babani, Richard Beecham, Lucy Briers, Viviana Durante, Matthew Dunster, David Eldridge, Thelma Holt, Stephen Jeffreys, Kwame Kwei Armah, Michael Maloney, Mark Ravenhill and Ian Reddington, together with the Festival's patron and Scarborough's Cultural Godfather, Alan Ayckbourn. During the Festival, the town assumes the mantle of a mini Edinburgh Fringe, as a variety of venues become performance spaces. Further information can be found on the NSDF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Ian Marshall Fisher's Lost Musicals series, presenting neglected shows by great American Broadway theatre writers, in semi-staged performances by West End regulars on Sunday afternoons at the Lilian Baylis Theatre, has announced its 2009 season. The New Yorkers, book by Herbert Fields, music and lyrics by Cole Porter, a romance between an heiress and a gangster in party going 1920s New York, will play from 29th March to 26th April; and Johnny Johnson, book and lyrics by Paul Green, music by Kurt Weil, an anti war fantasy with a diverse score spanning broad comedy and droll wit, will play from 14th June to 12th July. All performances are preceded by introductory talks from guest speakers.

The Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark is to present a short comedy season comprising performances by Phil Nichol from 12th to 20th March, and Charles Fleischer from 24th March to 11th April.

It Beats Working For A Living - A Lifetime In Showbusiness by Johnnie Hamp, recently published by Trafford Publishing, tells the story of a man who learnt his trade in variety, and then brought it to television, becoming head of Light Entertainment at Granada. During a unique showbusiness career that spanned six decades, Hamp worked with just about every major British and American artist of his era. He made his debut in show business as a boy stooge to his magician father, and went on to devise and produce more than 2,000 television programmes. As well as being a personal memoir, it contains a collection of showbusiness anecdotes involving many of the stars he has worked with, from Larry Hagman, Frank Sinatra and Woody Allen to The Beatles, Peter Sellers - and Bernard Manning.

The Carl Rosa Opera Company opens its 4 month spring tour of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, the nautical tale of love between social classes and mistaken identities in Victorian England, featuring John Savident, directed by Timothy West, at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow on 10th March.

The Rumour Machine says: that that work is under way on musical adaptations of three iconic films: Ghost, with book by Bruce Joel Rubin adapted from his screenplay, and music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, to be directed by Matthew Warchus, aiming to open in the West End in 2010; Sleepless In Seattle, with book by Jeff Arch, who wrote the original story and co-wrote the screenplay, and music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, to be directed by Joel Zwick, which is aiming for Broadway, also in 2010; and The Thomas Crown Affair, book by Warren Brown, and music and lyrics by Michael Feinstein. The Rumour Machine grinds on.