Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Although doom and gloom headlines abound regarding shows closing - as is customary every January and February - quite a few new shows have been announced this week.
As exclusively revealed here last week, Ben Elton's Popcorn opens at the Apollo Theatre on 20th March. It features Patrick O'Kane and Dena Davis, and is directed by Laurence Boswell. The producer is concert and comedy promoter Phil McIntyre.
Naomi Wallace's stage adaptation of Birdy, William Wharton's book about the psychological effects of war, is coming to the Comedy Theatre, opening on 6th March. First seen last year at the Lyric Hammersmith, it features Rob Morrow, Adam Garcia, Tam Williams and Matthew Wait. Kevin Knight is the director, and it is produced by P W Productions.
The long awaited London production of Masterclass, Terence McNall's award winning play about Maria Callas, has finally been announced. Patti Lupone will play Callas giving an opera masterclass in New York, opening at the Queens Theatre on 30th April. This is Lupone's first appearance in London since she created the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard in 1992. It is directed by Leonard Foglia, and produced by Robert Fox.
Maureen Lipman's new one woman show Live And Kidding, which was tried out at Chichester last year, and has been touring for the last few weeks, comes to the Duchess Theatre for a five week season opening on 6th March. She is accompanied by Michael Haslam, and directed by Alan Strachan. Duncan C Weldon is producing.
Veteran comedian Jerry Lewis is to make his West End musical theatre debut. The American touring production of the baseball musical Damn Yankees is coming to the Savoy Theatre in May. Based on the Faust story, Lewis plays the Devil offering success for the team in exchange for souls. This revival was George Abbot's last Broadway directoral assignment.
Casting is now complete for the play which will launch the season of new works by the Peter Hall Company at The Old Vic on 23rd March. Daniel Craig, Kelly Macdonald, Andy Serkis, Rupert Graves and Elizabeth McGovern will lead the London premiere of David Rabe's 1984 play Hurly Burly. It shows the seamy side of Hollywood through the adventures of two downmarket casting directors, a writer and a bit-part actor. The director is Wilson Milam.
Finally, Jack In Review, a tribute to the late Daily Mail theatre critic, Jack Tinker will take place at the London Palladium on 28th February at 2.30pm. Among those taking part will be Michael Barrymore, Barry Humphries, Julia McKenzie, Jonathan Pryce, Dora Bryan, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Maria Friedman and Clarke Peters. The show has been devised by Cameron Mackintosh and Hugh Woodridge.