News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th June 2003

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men, starring Matthew Kelly and George Costigan, which has recently toured extensively, will open at the Savoy Theatre on 23rd October. The classic tale of the American depression is the story of two itinerant farm workers who buy a small farm of their own, but find the ensuing hardship tests their friendship to its limits. It is directed by Jonathan Church and co-produced by Birmingham Rep in association with the Touring Consortium.

Goldsmiths College is holding its annual free combined open day and arts festival on 21st June from 10.00am to 4.00pm. The Open Day will include informal talks with tutors, sessions for prospective research students, exhibitions, and campus tours, providing information about undergraduate, postgraduate, adult education and short course study opportunities, across music, drama, dance and visual arts. The Festival Of Arts and Innovation is a celebration of the creative and performing arts, with music of all kinds, drama and dance performances, design and photography exhibitions, talks and discussions, and media screenings, involving the college and other local groups and organisations, plus a programme of children's activities. Further information can be found on the Goldsmiths web site via the link from the Training section of TheatreNet.

It's Official 1! As previously forecast here, Thoroughly Modern Millie, the Tony award winning Broadway musical, will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 21st October. Based on the 1967 film about a girl from Kansas who arrives in 1920s New York to start a new life, it has a book by Dick Scanlan and Richard Morris, and new numbers with music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by Dick Scanlan, in addition to three songs from the film and four standards of the period. Director Michael Mayer and choreographer Rob Ashford will recreate the original production. Although it has yet to be officially announced, Amanda Holden is expected to play the title role.

The summer programme at Somerset House will include two free festivals. The Free Time international arts event for children, in the first weekend of the summer holidays, 19th to 22nd July from 10 am to 6pm, involves both open air events in the Courtyard and special activities inside in all three galleries. Waterscapes, weeknights at 6.30pm from 12th to 15th August, and at 2.30pm on Saturday 16th August, presented by Moti Roti, features performances by London based international artists, including Bombay film dancers, African ritual performers and Asian martial arts groups.

When the Oxford Apollo reopens on 6th September, following the completion of a substantial refurbishment programme restoring theatre's original Art Deco features and modernising the backstage areas, it will be under its original name of The New Theatre. Of course New is a relative term, as the building celebrated its 70th birthday this year. It became the Apollo as the flagship venue of Apollo Leisure in 1977, but now the company has been subsumed first into SFX and then Clear Channel, the name is no longer relevant. Hopefully the group's London venues, the Apollo Victoria and Apollo Hammersmith will also undergo name changes to avoid the unnecessary confusion with the real Apollo Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue.

It's Official 2! As previously forecast here, Tonight's The Night, the show built around Rod Stewart's hits, with a book by Ben Elton loosely based on the ledged of Faust, will open at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 6th November. The show will feature Tim Howar, Dianne Pilkington and Zabin Varia, and Elton will direct.

Mark Thomson has announced his first season as director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. It opens on 20th September with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, running until 18th October; followed by Blood And Ice by Liz Lochhead, directed by Graham McLaren, from 25th October to 15th November; The Princess And The Goblin by Stuart Paterson; David Mamet's A Life In The Theatre, directed by Tony Cownie, from 10th to 31st January; Death Of A Salesman by Arthur Miller, from 7th February to 6th March; the premiere of Uncle Varick, a contemporary version of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya by John Byrne, from13th March to 3rd April, and Des Dillon's Six Black Candles, from 17th April to 8th May.

On The Casting Couch: It is now confirmed that the film of The Phantom Of The Opera, directed by Joel Schumacher, has forsworn names, and will star Scottish actor Gerard Butler as the man in the mask, and Emily Rossum, a 16 year old New Yorker, as his muse. Shooting starts in September.

Raymond Brigg's The Snowman will be back at the Peacock Theatre for a sixth West End season from 10th December to 11th January. The Birmingham Rep production, with a score by Howard Blake, is choreographed by Robert North, and directed by Bill Alexander. Robert North's original one act ballet version of the story was created for Gothenburg Ballet in Sweden in 1993. He then went on to work on the Birmingham Rep show in 1997. Two years ago, North created an extended two act ballet for Scottish Ballet. All versions use the Howard Blake score from the animated film.

The Rumour Machine says: that Patrick Stewart will follow his West End appearance as The Master Builder with a New York season as The Caretaker for the Roundabout Theatre Company; that Edward Hall's previously mentioned Propeller Theatre company's all male production of A Midsummer Night's Dream may receive a West End showing at the Duke of York's Theatre in August (despite the poor business the company's much feted production of Rose Rage attracted last year); and that Blast II, a sequel to the American marching brass band, percussion and majorettes spectacular which got no closer to the West End than the Apollo Hammersmith in 1999, may be coming to the Queen's Theatre in the autumn. The Rumour Machine grinds on.