News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th September 2007

The 15th London Open House, the annual scheme to allow the public into architecturally interesting but usually private buildings across the capital, takes place on 15th and 16th September. Over 600 locations will include old favourites of theatrical interest such as the Almeida, Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith, National, Royal Court, Unicorn and Wimbledon theatres, Siobhan Davies Studios, Cadogan, LSO St Luke's, Royal Festival, St John's Smith Square and Wigmore concert halls, BBC Broadcasting House, Bush House and Television Centre, Channel 4 building, Granada Tooting and Phoenix cinemas, and Sands Film Studio & Rotherhythe Picture Research Library. They will be joined this year by amongst others, Central School of Speech and Drama, LAMDA and RADA, Carling Academy Brixton, The Circus Space, Muswell Hill Odeon, The Roundhouse, Royal Albert Hall, Wilton's Music Hall and the Young Vic. There will also be talks, conducted walks and other accompanying special events taking place at various locations over the course of the weekend. Last year, over 360,000 visits were made during the two days. Entrance is free, but because of limited access, a few of the buildings require prebooking. Further information and how to obtain a directory of participating buildings can be found on the London Open House web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Eight dancers from English National Ballet, headed by Emma Findlay, are bringing the adventures of Angelina Ballerina, the star struck mouseling from Katherine Holabird's stories, to the stage for the first time in Angelina's Star Performance, which has just opened a national tour, that runs until 15th December. The show, adapted from Angelina At The Palace, by Paul Larson and Laura Beaumont, and choreographed by Anthony Dowson, to music by Tchaikovsy, orchestrated and arranged by Daryl Griffith, is aimed as an introduction to ballet for 3 year olds upwards, and runs for 75 minutes including an interval.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Kwame Kwei-Armah's new play Statement Of Regret, about machinations within a Black policy think tank, with Don Warrington, Angel Coulby, Oscar James, Trevor Laird, Colin McFarlane, Chu Omambala, Javone Prince, Clifford Samuel and Ellen Thomas, directed by Jeremy Herrin, will join the repertoire in the Cottesloe at the National Theatre in November; and Euripides's The Women Of Troy, in a radical contemporary version by Don Taylor, about women survivors in a war torn city awaiting transportation into slavery, with Kate Duchene, Anastasia Hille, Sinead Matthews, Susie Trayling, Pandora Colin, Beth Fitzgerald, Michael Gould, Helena Lymbery, Penelope McGhie, Charlotte Roach and Jonah Russell, directed by Katie Mitchell, will join the repertoire in the Lyttelton at the National Theatre in November.

The new season at the Library Theatre in Manchester will include Noel Coward's Private Lives, the brittle comedy about a couple who can't live with each other, yet can't live without each other, with Phillipa Peak and James Wallace, directed by Chris Honer, from 7th September; Brian Friel's Faith Healer, the story of a travelling faith healer in Wales, his wife, and his manager, directed by Roger Haines, from 28th October; Tom's Midnight Garden, adapted by David Wood from the book by Phillipa Pearce, in which a boy hears the grandfather clock strike thirteen, and when he investigates, discovers another world, directed by Roger Haines and Liam Steel, from 1st December; and Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot, 'where nothing happens - twice', directed by Chris Honer, from 1st February.

Give Us A Hand!, written by Michael Rosen, is a marionette extravaganza celebrating 46 years work by the Little Angel Theatre in Islington, performed by puppeteer Ronnie Le Drew, directed by John Roberts, playing from 14th September to 28th October. The show features over 40 of the 'stars' of the Little Angel's shows, including the Little Mermaid, Rapunzel and Angelo, providing a rare opportunity to see long string marionettes in performance. It is part of a series of events celebrating the centenary of John Wright, co-founder of Little Angel, home of British puppetry, who made many of the original puppets.

The Grade 1 listed Theatre Royal Newcastle has just reopened after a 7.2m development programme, which expanded its footprint into an adjoining building. Backstage, this has extended the previously cramped wing space, and a new fly tower and flying system has been installed. The public areas now boast a new learning centre, box office, bar, cafe and reception room. A 1.5m fundraising campaign has now begun for the next phase, which will see the refurbishment and restoration of the auditorium, designed by the legendary theatre architect Frank Matcham.

The annual London Pick Of The Fringe season, featuring double bills of the if.comedy award winners and finalists, will run during October at the Garrick Theatre: 7th - if.comedy award winner Brendon Burns with So I Suppose This Is Offensive Now, and Andrew Lawrence with Social Leprosy For Beginners And Improvers; 14th - Andrew Maxwell with Waxin', and sketch comedy group Pappy's Fun Club; and 21st - Best Newcomer Tom Basden with Won't Say Anything, and Tom Binns with Ivan Brackenbury's Hospital Radio Roadshow. Also at the Garrick Theatre from 8th to 27th October is 'Arturart', an exhibition of comedian Arthur Smith's paintings, embroideries, T-shirts and odd bits and pieces, together with contributions from other comedians, such as Harry Hill, Janey Godley, Jo Brand and Simon Munnery, which received a special if.comedy prize for its originality and wit. The exhibition is open from 11am and entry is free.

The Performing Right Society Foundation has launched a second 50,000 New Music Award - the largest of its kind in Britain - to inspire the creation and performance of new contemporary music, with the winner guaranteed a public performance. The PRSF seeks to promote the creation and performance of a wide range of new music, through showcases, education projects, commissions and live performances. It has a number of funding schemes that have application deadlines spread throughout the year. The organisation is recognised for its fast decision making and free expert advice service for applicants. The closing date for applications for the New Music Award is 2nd November. Further information and an application form can be found on the PRSF web site, via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that David Tennant and Patrick Stewart will star in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Hamlet, directed by Michael Boyd, in Stratford next year; and that the surprise Broadway musical hit Xanadu, based on the film about a Greek muse, sent to Earth to inspire mortals in California in the 1980s, who falls in love with an artist while helping him realise his dream of opening a roller disco, is looking at a London production next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.