News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th February 2003

Minnie Driver is to star in David Mamet's Sexual Perversity In Chicago, opening at the Comedy Theatre on 14th May, directed by Lindsay Posner. This will be her full West End debut, following a guest appearance in The Play What I Wrote last year. Mamet's play is the story of two single couples trying to sort out their sex lives between the filing cabinets and in the singles bars.

Greenwich Theatre is presenting Musical Voices, a celebration of musical theatre from around the world from 10th to 22nd February. The performances, workshops, masterclasses and free events include: Elizabeth Mansfield in The Uninvited, telling the stories of refugees and exiles from all over the world; Fast Forward Figaro in which Janis Kelly and Linda Kitchen do a 'Reduced Shakespeare Company job' on Mozart's opera; Klea Blackhurst in her award winning Everything The Traffic Will Allow, featuring the songs and sass of Ethel Merman; The Fat Lady Sings, with Kit and The Widow joined by Melanie Marshall in a programme which is 'not so much opera buffa as opera buffet'; and Judy Glen in How To Age - Disgracefully, a beginner's guide to disreputable behaviour for the over 40s. Greenwich Theatre will stage Musical Futures, its annual showcase of new musicals, from 19th to 23rd May, and is holding an open meeting for those interested in taking part on 1st March at 11am.

This year's The Night Of 1000 Voices charity event at Royal Albert Hall on 4th May will take as its theme the productions of Trevor Nunn. Judi Dench will introduce West End and Broadway stars including Alan Campbell, Alex Jennings, Aled Jones, Lauren Kennedy, Tommy Korberg, Judy Kuhn, Philip Quast, plus Sally Ann Triplett and cast members from the National Theatre production of Anything Goes, who will perform songs from My Fair Lady, South Pacific, Oklahoma!, Sunset Boulevard, Aspects Of Love, Chess, Starlight Express, Cats and Les Miserables. The event will also include the Sing Live choir, and The City of London Philharmonic. It is held to support the Alan Jay Lerner Fund for Cancer Research at The Royal Marsden Hospital and this year's main beneficiary will be the Variety Club Children's Charity.

Trevor Nunn has revealed that he plans to leave 2.5m to the National Theatre when he steps down as artistic director in April. The first tranche of 208,000 has already been transferred, and the remainder will follow over the next two years. The money has been generated from royalties earned on the West End and Broadway transfers of Nunn's musical revivals at the National. The director says that all of the money he has earned from these will be ploughed back into the theatre itself, and will be used for supporting new work.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Almeida Theatre will present the British premiere of Neil LaBute's latest play The Mercy Seat, directed by Michael Attenborough, on 30th October. It is set in New York on 12th September 2001, with two characters using the World Trade Centre disaster as a chance to disappear and start new lives. The refurbished Almeida opens with Henrik Ibsen's The Lady From The Sea in a new version by Pam Gems, directed by Trevor Nunn on 15th May.

The Watermill Theatre Newbury is continuing its association with director Edward Hall and his Propeller Theatre with the current production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. This follows last year's very successful collaboration Rose Rage, and features the same all male ensemble of Tony Bell, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, Richard Clothier, Emilio Doorgasingh, Matt Flynn, Robert Hands, Vince Leigh, Jonathan McGuiness, Chris Myles, Simon Scardifield, Guy Williams and Jules Werner. It is playing until 22nd March prior to a regional tour.

Announcing a closing date of 15th March for the Broadway production of Les Miserables seems to have done the trick of boosting business, and a stay of execution has been announced to 18th May. A series of guest appearances marking the final week have been bumped forward by two months. By that time the show will have played 6,684 performances, making it the second longest running Broadway show after Cats, have been seen by over 9m people, and grossed over $395m. It is unlikely to survive after then however, as the Broadway set has been signed to make an appearance in Berlin, and the Imperial Theatre has planned a period of refurbishment prior to its new show scheduled in the autumn. This will be the unlikely musical The Boy From Oz starring Hugh Jackman. This is a biographical show about the Australian performer and songwriter Peter Allen, who wrote, directed and starred in the infamous Broadway musical Legs Diamond.

Phil Daniels, Burn Gorman, Julie Legrand, John Ramm and Danny Webb star in Doug Lucie's The Green Man, which transfers to the Bush Theatre from 24th February to 22nd March, following its premiere at the Drum Plymouth last November. The 'four blokes in a pub after hours' saga is directed by Simon Stokes.

The Ice Globe Theatre at Jukkasjarvi in Sweden, 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, which is a replica of Shakespeare's Globe in London made of 30,000 tons of snow and 4,000 tons of ice, is staging its first production, a 70 minute version of Hamlet. The season, which also includes music and dance performances, will run until the first week in April when the ice starts to melt.

Once again the west country hit factory, the Theatre Royal Plymouth, makes news as Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats begins its first post West End tour, playing from 15th Feb to 8th March. The record breaking show has been seen in 300 cities in 26 countries and been performed in 11 languages.

The Rumour Machine says: that Trevor Nunn will direct Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical The Woman In White, adapted by Charlotte Jones from the Wilkie Collins melodrama, with lyrics by David Zippel, which will workshop at this year's Sydmonton Festival prior to full production next year; that Ariel Dorfman's Purgatorio a 'sequel' to Death And The Maiden starring Catherine McCormack will come to the West End in the autumn; and that Elton John's musical Billy Elliott, based on the film, will find a home at the Old Vic Theatre. The Rumour Machine grinds on.