News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th January 2005

The Mayor of London and the Society Of London Theatre are staging a fourth Get Into London Theatre initiative, designed to encourage new and young theatregoers to experience the wealth of theatrical fare to be found all over London. Discounted tickets are available for over 80 shows, including opera, ballet and dance, in over 40 venues, encompassing West End, fringe and suburban theatres. Tickets are at 10, 15, 20 or 30 (according to the venue) for selected performances until 18th March, but bookings must be made by 18th February. Restaurants are taking part with accompanying deals, and there are also hotels offering special mini-breaks. Ticket bookings can be made via the link opposite.

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford production of Terence Rattigan's Man And Boy, starring David Suchet, David Yelland, Ben Silverstone, Colin Stinton, Helen Grace, Jennifer Lee Jellicorse and Will Huggins, directed by Maria Aitken, will transfer the Duchess Theatre on 7th February. Set in New York in the 1930s, it is about a confrontation between a father and his estranged son, against a backdrop of love, betrayal and high finance. The show is presented by Thelma Holt, Bill Kenwright, Nica Burns and Michael Whitehall.

The Prince of Wales Theatre will launch a programme of fortnightly late night cabaret performances in its Delfont Room on 2nd February, with Joanna Riding and Martin Crewes, accompanied by Douglas White. Doors open at 10.30pm, after the main show has finished, the cabaret begins at 11pm, and the venue will remain open until 1am. The Delfont Room, created from the former stalls bar when the theatre was refurbished last year, has an art deco club like atmosphere, with capacity for 200, of which around 70 is table seating.

Dillie Keane, Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Richard Sisson (aka Kit and the Widow) and Matthew Wolfenden star in Tomfoolery, directed by Matthew Francis, which opens a national tour at the Jermyn Street Theatre on 24th January. This celebration of the words, music and lyrics of American satirist Tom Lehrer, featuring 28 of his songs, was originally conceived by Cameron Mackintosh and Robin Ray.

The 27th London International Mime Festival runs from 15th to 30th January, and features 18 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. Among the British performers taking part are Gecko, Momentum, Stephen Mottram and Nola Rae. International performers include Belgian clown duo Les Witloof, Catalan physical comedy group Tricicle, Dutch juggling tango combo The Individuals, French acrobat Jean-Baptiste Andre and inside trampolinist Mathurin Bolze, German mask theatre company Familie Floez, and Russian performance artists Akhe. Accompanying events include a lecture about the recent history of visual theatre, a two day workshop on the teachings of Jacques Lecoq, and a masterclass in how information about character is conveyed to an audience by the way puppets move. Performances are at the Battersea Arts Centre, Barbican, Circus Space, Laban Centre, ICA, Institute Francais and South Bank Centre. Full details can be found on the LIMF web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Anne-Marie Duff and Peter McDonald will star in Days Of Wine And Roses, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 22nd February; Glen, Lisa Dillon Benedict Cumerbatch, Gillian Raine and Jamie Sives will join Eve Best in Hedda Gabler, opening at the Almeida Theatre on 10th March; David Bradley, Susan Brown, David Harewood, Matthew Macfadyen and John Wood will join Michael Gambon in Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, opening at the National Theatre in April; Haydn Gwynn, Tim Healey, Anne Rogers, Joe Caffrey, Steve Elias and Stephanie Putson are the leads in Billy Elliot, opening at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 11th May; Jim Broadbent will play the vengeful actor in Theatre Of Blood, opening at the National Theatre on 19th May; and Douglas Hodge will join Ewan McGregor and Jane Krakowski in Guys And Dolls, opening at the Piccadilly Theatre in June.

The spring season at Greenwich Theatre includes: the Company of Angels production of Hannah & Hannah, the story of a teenage asylum seeker who befriends a local girl of the same age, written and directed by John Retallack; the return of the Musical Voices season of musical theatre works, including a series of Ten Minute Musicals created from a story in that day's newspaper; Tenth Planet Productions with The Trestle At Pope Lick Creek by Naomi Wallace, a story of two teenagers testing their dreams in 1930s rural America, with Terence Frisch, Hannah Storey and Steven Webb, directed by Raz Shaw; and the Compass Theatre Company production of Anton Chekov's The Seagull, directed by Neil Sissons.

The Place is presenting its 16th Resolution! season of new dance ideas and fledgling talent, running until 19th February. Over 100 companies, selected from hundreds of applicants from this country and abroad, have an opportunity to present their work, with three different 30 minute programmes each night. The First Footing strand is open to all who have completed full time dance training, while Evolution is for those who have appeared in the season in previous years, and Aerowaves features works produced elsewhere in Europe. It's a chance to spot the choreographic and dancing stars of tomorrow at bargain prices. Full details can be found on The Place web site, via the link from London Venues section of TheatreNet.

You can keep the pantomime season going all year with It's Behind You! The Story Of Panto, by Peter Lathan, recently published by New Holland. It presents a tour of the genre from Roman times, through its Drury Lane hey day, to today's reality TV 'stars'. Lavishly illustrated, with posters, drawings and photographs (with a penchant for provincial productions of the last fifty years) it features dames from Dan Leno to John Inman. The work examines all the conventions, including male dames and female principal boys, and how they have frequently been subverted in the name of profit (the more outrageous the more entertaining - in this book at any rate) from this, the most commercial of theatrical forms.

The latest co-production between Edward Hall's all male Propeller Theatre Company and the Watermill Theatre in Newbury is The Winter's Tale, which opens a national tour at the Watermill on 20th January. The company comprises Robert Barritt, Tony Bell, Dugald Bruce Lockhart, Richard Clothier, Alasdair Craig, Vince Leigh, Adam Levy, Chris Myles, Simon Scardifield, James Tucker, Jules Werner and Tam Williams, directed by Hall.

Broadway had its best week ever between Christmas and the New Year, with a box office take of $22,069,502, beating the previous record of $21,350,633 for the same week in 2002. Eight shows broke their own theatre box office records: Mamma Mia!, Beauty And The Beast, Avenue Q, Twelve Angry Men, Fiddler On The Roof, Hairspray, Movin' Out and Rent. Nine of the 31 shows grossed over $1m, another Broadway record, and 15 shows sold out or were near 100% capacity. The musical Dracula experienced the biggest boost, with a 131% rise in business from the previous week (although not enough to stop the notice going up). As in the West End, most Broadway shows do fewer performances in the week before Christmas, and extra performances the week after, which is one reason why it is usually the best week in the year.