News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th March 1998

This year's Covent Garden Festival runs from 23rd May to 6th June. Highlights will include: The Sixteen's version of Handel's Sampson; Music Theatre London's new production of Die Fledermaus; Side By Side revues of the work of Leonard Bernstein and Cole Porter; Opera Circus' Cat Man's Tale; the return of Trial By Jury; the world premiere of the Festival's first commission Mrs O's Saturday Night, set in a Scottish village pub in the 1950's, with music by Alasdair Nicolson and lyrics by Alastair Cording; and Mini Opera, a three person team who will tour the area, stopping to present musical moments from the world's smallest opera house - a mini.

After a long fallow period, Michael Frayn has two plays scheduled to open this year. Michael Blakemore directs the world premiere of Copenhagen at the National Theatre opening on 28th May. This is a threehander with David Burke, Matthew Marsh and Sara Kestleman. Alarms (And Excursions) will follow in the West End sometime in the autumn.

Plans to stage Irving Walsh's first play You'll Have Had Your Hole in a European new writing festival in Brussels have been scrapped, now that people have actually seen it. The West Yorkshire Playhouse production has been roundly condemned for gratuitous violence, poor writing, weak characterisation and lack of dramatic structure. The producers of Euro Theatre 98 have retracted their invitation, and the British Council has withdrawn financial support. Another visit to Portugal now seems unlikely.

The Malvern Festival Theatre's Gala reopening will be on 4th May with the RSC production The Herbal Bed. It is preceded by a Gala Concert launching the New Space on 24th April, by the English Symphony Orchestra, who as resident ensemble will present seven concerts in the opening booking period. The previously mentioned Almeida Theatre season will be Racine's Phaedra with Diana Rigg from 6th to 11th August and Alec McCowen and Ian McDiarmid in Shaw's The Doctor's Dilemma from 14th to 22nd August in the Theatre; while in the New Space, Brecht's Mr Puntilla And His Man Matti directed by Kathryn Hunter plays from 7th to 9th August; followed by the world premiere of The Play About The Baby by Edward Albee, directed by Howard Davies, from 15th to 22nd August. All but Phaedra are playing on Sundays.

The Bible: A Celebration Of Easter will present bible readings by leading Shakespearean actors at the Barbican on Easter Saturday, Sunday and Monday 11th to 13th April. These will be in St Giles Church Cripplegate and the Barbican Theatre, directed by John Tydeman and introduced by John Tusa. Performers will be Timothy West, George Baker, Ian McKellan, Josette Simon, Denis Quillley, Fiona Shaw and Derek Jacobi.

Demos & Closures: Corin Redgrave and Juliet Stevenson are to lead a demonstration in support of Greenwich Theatre, due to close because of grant cuts on 28th March. Meet outside the building at noon on 21st March. The Greenwich Theatre Recovery Fund has been set up with the hope of raising enough money to allow the theatre to re-open in October. Nearby Albany Theatre in Deptford has also made all its eleven staff redundant from 31st March. It will become a venue for community and amateur shows.