News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th June 2002

The promise held out by a record number of 20 nominations for British talent in this year's Tony Awards wasn't quite realised in the number of winners. Lindsay Duncan won Best Actress for Private Lives, which also took Best Play Revival and Best Scenic Design for Tim Hatley. Alan Bates won Best Actor for Fortune's Fool. The American Shuler Hensley took Best Featured Musical Actor in the National Theatre production of Oklahoma!. Thoroughly Modern Millie was the star of the night with six awards including Best Musical, with Urinetown sharing the musical honours with Best Book, Score and Direction. The fact that John Lithgow won Best Musical Actor was not enough to save Nicholas Hytner's production of Sweet Smell Of Success which will close on 15th June. The full list of winners can be found on the Tony Awards web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Rula Lenska and Gillian Bevan head a cast of ten in Masterpieces, a new show celebrating the words and music of Noel Coward, which is at Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 15th June, launching a national tour. Devised and directed by Christopher Luscombe and Malcolm McKee, the team behind the The Shakespeare Revue, it includes not only the usual suspects from Coward's prodigious catalogue, but less familiar material culled from his archive. This includes a love song written in an invented Polynesian language and a Morris Dance. The producers are Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott.

With 20,342 performances, of 1,491 shows, in 183 venues, involving 619 companies, with 11,713 performers, the 56th Edinburgh Festival Fringe, running from 4th to 26th August, retains its position as the world's largest arts festival. As ever, new work plays a significant part, and 40% of the shows are premieres - 25% world, 5% European and 10% UK. Several shows reflect on the events of 11th September last, including Project 9/11, relating seven personal accounts of that day in New York City; Jumpers, following four New Yorkers coping with its aftermath; Bodies In Crisis, employing dance, poetry and music to examine the ramifications of terrorism; The Art Of War, covering similar ground using physical theatre techniques; Michael Moore delivering his own take on the events in his first ever live appearance; drag-star Tina C performing a satire on the media reaction in Twin Towers Tribute; and Correspondent, The Critics And Safety examining media fairness and accuracy. Other highlights include: Morris Panych's Aunty And Me, with Alan Davies and Marcia Warren; My Matisse, from be people who previously brought us Picasso's Women; 5678, a slasher take on the musical Fame; and Richard Thomas now almost legendary BAC show Jerry Springer: the Opera. Further information can be found on the Edinburgh Fringe web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Michael Crawford is to star as a 425 year vampire in the musical Dance Of The Vampires, a stage adaptation of Roman Polanski's 1967 film, which will open at the Minskoff Theatre in New York on 21st November. Set in "a Transylvanian graveyard near a village with an unpronounceable name, three nights before Halloween 1880-something", it follows a professor/vampire killer and his dim assistant in their struggle to save an inn keeper's daughter from becoming Queen of the Vampires. The show has original book and lyrics by Michael Kunze, with additions by David Ives, music and lyrics by Jim Steinman, and is directed by John Rando. The original stage premiere was in 1997 in Vienna, directed by Polanski, where it won six awards, including Best Musical.

The Barbican Centre has announced details of further events in BITE:02, its fifth Barbican International Theatre Event opening on 3rd July. These include: Theatr Formalny with its Edinburgh Fringe Award winning play School For Fools, about an autistic boy who is considered backward and sent to a special needs school; The Sound Of Ocean, which draws on contemporary theatre techniques alongside the ancient Taiwanese art of drumming; Tblisi Marionett Theatre performing The Battle Of Stalingrad, with the horrors of war recreated by marionettes made from everything from string to tin buckets; and Hashirigaki: Heiner Geobbels, uniting high art and popular culture in a unique mixture of Gertrude Stein's prose and every kind of music from Japanese folk to bluegrass.

Goldsmiths College is holding a free combined open day and arts festival on 15th June from 10.00am to 4.00pm. The Open Day will include informal talks with tutors, sessions for prospective research students, exhibitions, and campus tours, providing information about undergraduate, postgraduate, adult education and short course study opportunities, across music, drama, dance and visual arts. The Festival Of Arts and Innovation is a celebration of the creative and performing arts, with music of all kinds, drama and dance performances, design and photography exhibitions, and media screenings, involving the college and other local groups and organisations, plus a programme of children's activities. Further information can be found on the Goldsmiths web site via the link from the Training section of TheatreNet.

Tony Curtis is making his stage debut in the musical Some Like It Hot on a 50 city American regional tour (with Broadway in mind) which has just started at the Hobby Center in Houston. The show is a revised version of Sugar, the 1972 musical adaptation of the film in which Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon played musicians who flee the Chicago mob by disguising themselves as women in an all-girl band. The score will include numbers from the film that were not available in 1972, plus others by Jule Styne, and a new book by Peter Stone. This time, Curtis plays the Joe E. Brown role of an ageing millionaire who falls in love with one of the 'girls', and on finding out she's a man, ends the film with the immortal line "Well nobody's perfect".

The Rumour Machine says: that Alan Bates and Frank Langella in Turgenev's Fortune's Fool, directed by Arthur Penn, will arrive in the West End in the autumn, courtesy of Duncan Weldon - possibly at the Haymarket Theatre, which would put it in conflict with the already announced Double Dame production of David Hare's The Breath Of Life, with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith; and that Jonathan Kent will direct a Broadway revival of the Dale Wasserman-Mitch Leigh-Joe Darion musical Man Of La Mancha, with Brian Stokes Mitchell as Cervantes Don Quixote, opening at the Martin Beck Theatre in December, following a try out in Boston and Washington. The Rumour Machine grinds on.