News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th April 2001

The female version of Neil Simon's classic comedy The Odd Couple will make its West End debut 35 years after the original at the Apollo Theatre on 17th April. Oscar and Felix, who have become Olive and Florence, will be played by Jenny Seagrove and Paula Wilcox. The Theatre Royal Windsor production is directed by Elijah Moshinsky and presented by Bill Kenwright.

Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers is currently receiving a jazz makeover by adaptor and director John Doyle in the Watermill Theatre Newbury until 12th May, prior to an appearance at the Covent Garden Festival. A Chicago Mafia family descends on a London Italian jazz café (The Gondola) to find out which of the Palmieri brothers is the new head of "the family". As in Doyle's previous Watermill musicals the company is made up of actor musicians who accompany themselves.

This year's outdoor classical concert series at Kenwood House in Hampstead is planning a rather unusual addition. If the local authority grants a licence there will be a showing of the Sing-A-Long-A Sound Of Music film in August. The hills of north London really will be alive if the entire potentially 8000 strong audience joins in - something the local residents are not too keen on. Sing-A-Long-A SOM is touring the UK now if you can't wait until August.

Kevin Elyot's new play Mouth To Mouth, seen recently at the Royal Court Theatre, is to transfer to the Albery Theatre on 16th May. Set at a family reunion in a Balham garden, it explores the dreaded "R" word (relationships): parents - children - siblings - friends and reveals a secret. It stars Lindsay Duncan and Michael Maloney, with Barnaby Kay, Andrew McKay, Lucy Whybrow and Peter Wright. Ian Rickson directs, and it is presented by Bill Kenwright, the Royal Court and the Ambassador Theatre Group.

LIFT - London International Festival of Theatre - is celebrating its 20th anniversary of presenting cutting edge companies from all over the world from 11th June to 8th July. Events include Bobby Baker's Box Story, the completion of the five-show Daily Life cycle commissioned by LIFT; Declan Donnellan's reworking of Pushkin's Boris Godunov, with a company of Moscow's leading actors; Italian company Societas Raffaello Sanzio's Genisi, a dramatic triptych constructed of moments of sonic and visual wonder and terror directed by Romeo Castelluci; Laszlo Hudi's production of the Hungarian classic The Tragedy Of Man; American Keith Antar Mason's production of Skeletons Of Fish, which blends mythic ritual with a hip-hop edge to create the cyber-world of Planet Alabama; plus Garden Of Light, an outdoor celebration organised by French pyrotechnician Christophe Berthonneau. Participating venues include Almeida Kings Cross, Riverside Studios, Royal Court and Sadler's Wells. In addition to the main biennial festival LIFT will in future also present one-off special event visits by international companies. Further information can be found on the LIFT web site via the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Ambassador Theatre Group, which recently formed an alliance with Ewan McGregor, Jude Law and Sadie Foster's Natural Nylon Theatre Company to develop new writing projects, has finalised a collaborative arrangement with the Young Vic Theatre. ATG will invest £250,000 in co-productions with the Young Vic which, if successful, will transfer to their West End or regional theatres. ATG is believed to be discussing a similar deal with the PW Productions run Theatre Royal Norwich.

Sarah Jessica Parker is to star in David Lindsay-Abaire's Wonder Of The World at the celebrated Off Broadway venue Manhattan Theatre Club. It is a comedy in which the heroine embarks on a journey of self-discovery in Niagara Falls during which she meets that some extraordinary characters. Directed by Christopher Ashley, it will launch MTC's new season on 2nd October.

Northern Stage Ensemble's new adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 by Alan Lyddiard follows its premiere at Newcastle Playhouse with a short tour starting at Derby Playhouse on 19th April. Claiming to be "adrenaline spiked, digitally remastered, real life 1-o-1 action for the call monitoring, e-mail screening, cctv society of the 21st century" (phew!) it is directed by Alan Lyddiard and Mark Murphy.

This year's Shakespeare Birthday Festival at Shakespeare's Globe will include the traditional sonnet walk on Sunday 22nd April, during which twelve sonneteers will entertain walkers along the route to Bankside. For the first time participants will have a choice between two tours of Tudor London, starting from either Westminster or Shoreditch. Tours leave every 15 minutes from 10.00am to 12.45pm. On the day itself (Monday 23rd April) the Spearshaker Talk, Sacred Language In The Theatre, will be given by Swami Veda Bharati, Peter Dawkins and Mark Rylance at St Paul's Cathedral, with supper at the Globe to follow. Further information can be found on the Shakespeare's Globe web site via the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The sixteen strong Bounce Streetdance Company brings its new show Bounce to The Roundhouse for a seven week season from 25th April. The group, which was founded in 1997, performs Break-dancing, Popping, Swing, Tap and Boogaloo to a soundtrack of Hip Hop, Jazz and Rap. It is staged by Anthony van Laast.

And Finally . . . The cause of new serious music has received a blow from the Performing Rights Society, which is attempting to raise the royalty rate paid by orchestras from 3.3% to 7.8%. The financial state of most major orchestras is so precarious that they can't take any cost increases - never mind over 100%. In future, even if they do manage to hoodwink audiences into turning up by successfully hiding a new work between Beethoven and Mozart pieces in a concert programme, they won't be able to afford to play it anyway. Five years ago PRS tried the same thing with pop concerts but they were taken to a tribunal and forced to back down. Time for the orchestras to get together and do the same.