Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
The West End conquered Broadway in this year's Tony Awards with A Doll's House winning Janet McTeer - Best Actress, Owen Teale - Best Featured Actor, Anthony Page - Best Director, and Bill Kenwright in tandem with original London producer Thelma Holt - Best Revival Of A Play. Thelma Holt revealed that in addition to the struggle with American Equity which almost prevented it opening in New York, the production nearly failed to find a West End home. Stoll Moss, London's largest theatre owning chain with ten theatres, refused to offer a her a venue because in their opinion there were no star names in the cast. Holt backed her own judgement and put the show into the Playhouse Theatre which has not enjoyed great success since its refurbishment ten years ago.
Other Tonys included six awards for the revival of Chicago - due in the West End in October; a surprising five for Titanic including Best Score, Book and Musical; and Christopher Plummer - Best Actor for the almost one man show Barrymore. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the awards, named in honour of actress, producer and director Antoinette Perry, and presented by the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing.
Confirming earlier rumours, the Pet Shop Boys - who opened a short season at the Savoy Theatre last night - are working on a stage musical, and have seven songs under way. Royal Court Theatre writer Jonathan Harvey, best known for Beautiful Thing, is working on the book about London club culture and the music business. The PSB's want to create a show which is small scale and not spectacle driven. That should be no problem - given Harvey's previous work it will probably be set in a council flat in Thamesmead.
The tour of David Hare's award winning play Skylight with Bill Nighy and Stella Gonet is coming to the Vaudeville Theatre on 30th June. The production won the 1996 Olivier Best Play Award, originating at the National with Michael Gambon and Lia Williams, and playing at Wyndhams before transferring to Broadway. Richard Eyre is the director and Robert Fox the producer.
Is the West End destined for Edward and Mrs Simpson mania? In addition to the musical Always which opens next week, there are plans in October for a play on the subject by Snoo Wilson called HRH. This should not be confused with the comedy of the same name by Ray Cooney and Royce Ryton about Charles and Diana which played at the Palace Theatre (naturally) in 1981. Wilson will present the couple in a less than flattering light. Corin Redgrave and Maria Aitken star, and Simon Callow directs for Pericles Productions. Of course the uncharitable amongst preview audiences who are suggesting that Always should be re-titled "Briefly" think it probably won't still be around in October.
The Rumour Machinesays that Cameron Mackintosh has decided not to transfer The Fix to the Lyric at the end of its Donmar season, erring on the side of caution, unlike his last small scale show Moby Dick which he brought in from Oxford despite a similarly unenthusiastic response. The Rumour Machine grinds on.
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