News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th March 2003

Following last year's Julie Burchill Is Away, the one person entertainment created from the journalist's Guardian columns, Tim Fountain has now turned to fellow scribbler Toby Young. How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, an adaptation of Young's account of how he failed to take Manhattan by storm when he became editor of Vanity Fair in the mid '90s, will premiere at the Soho Theatre from 29th April to 17th May, directed by Owen Lewis. Jack Davenport will play Young, and as he is six inches taller and has a full head of hair, we can assume he will not be attempting an impersonation.

Hampstead Theatre's 25th anniversary revival of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party is to transfer to the Whitehall Theatre on 9th April, when its current run at the New Ambassadors Theatre ends. The ultimate embarrassing party experience stars Elizabeth Berrington, Rosie Cavaliere, Wendy Nottingham, Jeremy Swift, and Steffan Rhodri, and is directed by David Grindley.

The unique Ennio Marchetto, who presents living origami, is currently on a UK wide tour, with new characters, including Robbie Williams, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Ozzy Osbourne. They bring his total repertoire to over 200, around 50 whom are featured in each show. Further information, including a behind the scenes feature about how he creates his characters, and an online tour diary, can be found on the Ennio Marchetto web site via the link from the Shows section of TheatreNet.

The Young Vic and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation have established a Young Directors Award to provide opportunities for directors to develop their skills in a programme at the Young Vic between June and August. Applicants must be a UK resident, under 35, with two years professional experience as a director. For an information and application pack send an SAE to Jerwood Young Directors Award, The Young Vic, 66 The Cut, London SE1 8LZ. The deadline for applications is 28th March.

Green Ginger Theatre Company will bring Frank Enstein - Born To Be Wired, created by Terry Lee and Chris Pirie, and directed by Bim Mason, to the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith from 18th to 29th March. Mary Shelly meets Spitting Image in their contemporary retelling of the classic story, using life size latex puppets lip-synched to live voices, which has been acclaimed the world over.

On The Donmar Warehouse Casting Couch: Michael Sheen, Raymond Coulthard, Jason Hughes, Diana Kent and Ben Turner will star in Caligula opening on 30th April; and Jerome Pradon, Richard Henders, Togo Igawa, Cornell John, Teddy Kempner and Ian McLarnon will star in Pacific Overtures opening on 30th June.

The Theatre Royal Haymarket is holding another Masterclass season for young people who have an interest in theatre, or are keen to pursue a career in the arts. Events are open to people aged 17 to 30, and are free of charge - but there is a refundable deposit required confirming the booking. The spring series runs from 24th March to 16th May, with sessions beginning at 2.30pm and lasting around two hours. It features masters of their arts from Kacey Ainsworth to Leigh Zimmerman, covering the topics of acting, training, theatrecraft, musical theatre and writing. Further information and online booking can be found on the Theatre Royal Haymarket web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, the creators of Stomp, the British percussion phenomenon, which employs everyday objects from dustbins to cigarette lighters as instruments, have collaborated on Pulse, an IMAX film which explores the show's inspiration. Travelling across five continents, it features street performers in New York, taiko drummers in Japan, tabla players in India, gumboot dancers in South Africa - and even bell ringers in Britain. The film is currently being shown at the BFI London IMAX cinema on the South Bank.

Cameron Mackintosh has announced a 1.5m refurbishment of the Strand Theatre, where he takes over the lease on 1st April, in an ongoing programme of upgrading his West End venues. Work on a 7m scheme at the Prince of Wales, the second of the theatres he currently controls, is already scheduled to start in the autumn. Mackintosh undertook a 3.5m refurbishment of the Prince Edward in 1993. Over the last few years he has acquired long term leases on the Queen's and Gielgud theatres, currently leased to Really Useful Theatres until 2005/2006, and the freeholds of the Wyndham's and Albery theatres, currently leased to the Ambassador Theatre Group. The total sum to be invested over all the six theatres is estimated to be 30m.

The Rumour Machine says: that the National Theatre will revive Alan Ayckbourn's trilogy The Norman Conquests next year, amazingly 30 years after the original production of possibly his best work; that Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas have been approached to star in a West End season of Noel Coward's Private Lives (nothing seems too outrageous since Joan Collins played in it); and that New York's The Splinter Group are looking for a West End transfer for their Off Broadway success Shakespeare's R And J, about a secret production of Romeo And Juliet in a Catholic boys school, adapted and directed by Joe Calarco, currently making its UK debut as part of the Bath Shakespeare Festival. The Rumour Machine grinds on.