News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 6th November 2009

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the world's longest running musical, The Fantasticks, the coming of age fable, about a boy and girl whose romance is engineered by their fathers, but is cemented by their experience of the world outside, book and lyrics by Tom Jones, music by Harvey Schmidt, which has been running Off Broadway since May 1960, will open at the Duchess Theatre on 9th June, in a new production directed and choreographed by Amon Miyamoto. The producers are Gorgeous Entertainment, John Gore and Thomas B McGrath.

The Everyman Theatre Liverpool's production of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker, which explores the relationship between two brothers when a tramp enters their lives, with Jonathan Pryce and Peter McDonald, directed by Christopher Morahan, will transfer to the Trafalgar Studios 1, opening on 18th January.

The 32nd London International Mime Festival will run from 13th to 31st January, featuring companies from around the world spanning the full range of visual theatre, including leading exponents of mime, animation, circus, puppetry, clowning, juggling and vaudeville, together with a programme of talks and workshops. Performers will include from Switzerland, Zimmermann & de Perrot with Oper Opis, a daredevil game of shifting relationships, balance and control on a precariously tilting, unstable floor; from Russia, BlackSkyWhite with USSR Was Here, an overwhelming, impressionistic response to the sudden collapse of a great edifice; from Spain, the return of Circus Klezmer, with their circus theatre event set at an eastern European Jewish wedding; from Denmark, Kitt Johnson X-act with Rankefod, a solo performance that explores the origin of the species; and from Britain, Ockham's Razor with the world premiere of The Mill, performed inside and around a wheel of wood and steel suspended 7m in the air. Performances will be at the Barbican, ICA, Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House and Southbank Centre. Further information can be found on the LIMF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The National Theatre of Wales, which, like The National Theatre of Scotland, will produce shows that tour round existing venues, has announced its inaugural season. It will include the premiere of Alan Harris's A Good Night Out In The Valleys, about coal mining communities, based on interviews with local people, directed by John E McGrath; the premiere of John Osborne's recently rediscovered first play The Devil Inside Him, set in a poet's home over one life changing night, directed by Elen Bowman; Aesychylus's The Persians, in a new version by Kaite O'Reilly, directed by Mike Pearson; The Dark Philosophers, adapted from the stories of Gwyn Thomas, Welsh chronicler of the 1940s; and a community Passion Play in Port Talbot, by Owen Sheers, directed by Michael Sheen.

The Ambassador Theatre Group has finalised the purchase of Live Nation's 16 UK theatres, including the Lyceum and Apollo Victoria in London, for 90m, to become the largest theatre owning and operating company in Britain, with 40 venues. Live Nation's one third share of the Dominion was not included in the transaction. The combined business has a value of some 150m, and has a capacity of 11,085 seats in London and 37,026 seats in regional theatres. ATG is also a significant producer, and the deal gives the company sole ownership of the pantomime production company First Family Entertainment, previously a joint venture with Live Nation. Greg Dyke will join ATG in the new role of Executive Chairman. However, Key Brand Entertainment, the company that bought Live Nation's US theatres in 2007 and has a 'matching bid' option, has filed a law suit in America contesting the sale.

On The Casting Couch: Damian Lewis, Tara Fitzgerald, Keira Knightley, Dominic Rowan and Tim McMullan will be joined by Kelly Price, Nicholas Le Prevost and Chuk Iwuji in The Misanthrope, opening at the Comedy Theatre on 17th December; and Anthony Head, Lesley Manville, Obi Abili, Steven Pacey, Sarah Goldberg, Michael Goldsmith, Ilan Goodman, Sara Stewart, Paul Stocker and Kevin Trainor will comprise the cast of Six Degrees Of Separation, opening at the Old Vic Theatre on 19th January.

The Royal Opera House is continuing its ROH2 series of innovative and experimental small scale dance, opera and music events, staged in the Linbury Theatre. Upcoming highlights include new dance pieces created by emerging artists in three programmes from 20th November to 28th November; the young people's opera The Enchanted Pig, based on a Romanian folk tale about a princess who unwisely opens the book of fate, libretto by Alasdair Middleton, music by Jonathan Dove, directed by John Fulljames, with choreography by Philippe Giraudeau, from 11th December to 2nd January; and the return of Helen Chadwick's Dalston Songs, a song cycle based on interviews with her neighbours in east London, choreographed by Steven Hoggett, from 3rd to 6th February.

The Puppet Theatre Barge, currently moored at its winter home in Little Venice, is presenting weekend afternoon performances of Brer Rabbit Visits Africa, told with marionette puppets, during November, and Brer Rabbit Meets Santa in December, with daily performances over Christmas. The 50 seater theatre created on a canal barge, now in its 27th season, presents marionette and rod puppet spectacles throughout the year. The company also runs schools workshops. Further information can be found on the PTB web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Sam Mendes' Neal Street Productions is developing a stage musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, book by David Greig, music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman; that the Broadway production of Shrek: The Musical, adapted by David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori, from the story and characters in William Steig's children's book and the first animated film, directed by Jason Moore, with choreography by Josh Prince, may find a West End home at the London Palladium next autumn; and that Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton will feature in the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical Sweeney Todd, directed by Jonathan Kent, in the 2011 Chichester Festival Theatre season, with a West End transfer pencilled. The Rumour Machine grinds on.