News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th October 2006

The National Theatre production of Alan Bennett's The History Boys, about 1980s school staff room rivalry, the anarchy of adolescence and the purpose of education, will open at Wyndham's Theatre on 3rd January. It will be the current touring production starring Stephen Moore, Isla Blair, Orlando Wells and William Chubb, with Owain Arthur, Ben Barnes, Philip Correia, Marc Elliott, Thomas Morrison, Akemnji Ndifornyen, David Poynor and Steven Webb as the boys, recreated by Simon Cox, after the original direction by Nicholas Hytner

The musical Blondel, book and lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Stephen Oliver, in a revised version for a small ensemble company, directed by Patrick Wilde, will open at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington 23rd November. It is the story of the legendary 12th century minstrel, who refused to believe that Richard I was dead, and travelled around Europe until he found him imprisoned by the Duke of Austria, and helped to aid his escape. The producers are Tim Rice and The Wild Justice Company.

Two new 'farewell' appearances of Irish dance shows have been announced. Michael Flatley has returned to Lord Of The Dance, the show he conceived and choreographed, with dance direction by Marie Duff, and music by Ronan Hardiman, which has just opened a 6 month UK and European tour at the Opera House in Manchester. Riverdance, created by Moya Doherty, music by Bill Whelan, directed by John McColgan, with dance direction by Eileen Martin, which features Russian folk dance, tap and flamenco, as well as Irish dance, will open a UK tour at the Palace Theatre in Manchester on 9th April. What has Manchester done to deserve this?

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Donmar Warehouse production of Frost/Nixon, Peter Morgan's new play about the extended interviews David Frost had with Richard Nixon after his resignation from the White House, following the Watergate scandal, starring Michael Sheen, Frank Langella, Elliot Cowan, Corey Johnson, Kerry Shale, Lydia Leonard, Vincent Marzello, Rufus Wright, Kate Roscoe and Amerjit Deu, directed by Michael Grandage, will transfer to the Gielgud Theatre, opening on 14th November, for a three month season, before it travels to Broadway.

The Little Angel Theatre in Islington, the 'national theatre' of British puppetry, has received a 180,000 Heritage Lottery Grant, which will be used to launch its first professional puppetry apprenticeships. The company has previously expressed concern that the art form was in danger of dying out unless a younger generation learnt the skills it demands. Two trainees will be taken on for an intensive six month apprenticeship next year, which it is hoped will be an annual initiative. There will also be several short professional training courses. In addition to performances of all kinds of puppetry, the theatre already runs workshops revealing backstage secrets and teaching how to make and develop puppets and create shows.

New York TheatreNet: Laura Bell Bundy will star in Legally Blonde, the musical based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film, directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, which will open at the Palace Theatre, on 29th April. The show is the story of a cosmetics friendly sorority girl who follows her boyfriend to law school, and when he dumps her for someone more serious, sets out to become a swat. It has book by Heather Hach, and music and lyrics by Nell Benjamin and Laurence O'Keefe. The show will play a pre Broadway season at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco from January 23rd. The producers are Hal Luftig, Fox Theatricals and Dori Berinstein, in association with MGM Onstage, Darcie Denkert and Dean Stolber.

Those who prefer their performers to have four legs will be pleased to hear that The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is returning to Britain with their equine ballet. The white Lipizzaner stallions and their riders will perform classical dressage at the highest level and in its purest form at Wembley Arena from 16th to 19th November, and the NEC Birmingham from 23rd to 26th November. Founded in 1572, it is the oldest riding school in the world, maintaining skills and traditions dating back to Ancient Greece.

Dancers' Career Development, the organisation that offers support and coaching to dancers wanting to retrain at the end of their performing career, is inviting applications for the first Maude Lloyd & Rudolf Nureyev Bursary of 4,000. This will be awarded to an outstanding retraining application from a professional dancer of at least eight years, a minimum of five of which must have been in Britain, or less if they were forced to retire due to injury or illness. The bursary is aimed at financing a retraining plan leading to an accredited career or business start up inside or outside the dance industry. Further information can be found on the DCD web site via the link from Organisation in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The autumn season at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill includes Charles Mee's Big Love, a musical exploration of love, relationships, violence and power, inspired by Aeschylus's Suppliant Women, with Helen Baker, Alexi Kaye Campbell, Georgia Mackenzie and Ann Mitchell, directed by Melissa Kievman, with choreography by Ann Yee, currently playing; Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs, translated by Martin Crimp, an absurdist play about an old couple whose house becomes filled with chairs, directed by Thea Sharrock, opening on 13th November; Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, about family, morality and guilt in a mother-son relationship, in a new version by Amelia Bullmore, directed by Anna Mackmin, opening on 11th January; and Naomi Wallace's Things Of Dry Hours, in which the arrival of a stranger at a log cabin in Alabama in 1932 turns the world of its inhabitants upside down, directed by Rez Shaw, opening on 8th March, a co-production with the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.