News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 7th November 2003

Ground breaking, award winning theatre company Cheek By Jowl will be back in action next year. Director Declan Donnellan, designer Nick Ormerod and choreographer Judith Greenwood are currently working on a new staging of the ballet Romeo And Juliet at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, which opens on 13th December. They return to start rehearsals in the new year for a production of Othello starring Nonso Anozie, which will open at Theatre l'Ideal in Lille on 13th March, and then tour Europe, America and the UK, including London dates yet to be confirmed.

The next production at the Bush Theatre will be the premiere of Richard Bean's The God Botherers, a dark comedy about aid workers in Africa, with David Oyelowo, Georgia Mackenzie, Sunetra Sarker and Roderick Smith, directed by William Kerley, playing from 21st November to 20th December.

The winter season at the Royal Court Theatre will include another Richard Bean premiere, Honeymoon Suite, which speculates how Romeo and Juliet's relationship would have developed if they had survived. The English Touring Theatre production, directed by Paul Miller, will run from 8th January to 7th February, and then embark on a regional tour. This will be followed by The Sons Of Charlie Paora, written by actor Lennie James, from 25th February to 6th March. Set in New Zealand (where it was first seen last year) it tells what happens when a group gathers to mourn the passing of their rugby coach, and his children arrive.

Philip Madoc, Janet Henfrey and Joanna Riding star in John Dighton's The Happiest Days Of Your Life, directed by Braham Murray, at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, from 8th December to 17th January. Set in 1945 at a boys boarding school, which has just resumed classes after wartime evacuation, chaos ensues when the staff and pupils of a girls school are billeted there. Originally written for the stage, the play became a classic Ealing comedy film, with Alastair Sim Margaret Rutherford and Joyce Grenfell.

The actor Martin Jarvis has written Broadway, Jeeves?, published by Methuen, an account of his adventures during the year that he played the title role in the American premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn's musical By Jeeves. Starting with rehearsals in Pittsburgh in January 2001, through the regional run, a video recording in Toronto, backers pulling out and last minute replacements, a Broadway opening in the post 11th September uncertainty, to a closure on New Year's Eve, it is a roller coaster ride which provides a fascinating insight into the American commercial theatre system. The incongruity of producing a quintessentially English show with an entirely American cast and production team (except for Jarvis) is beautifully captured, and perhaps crystallised in the moment when Jarvis won the Theatre World Outstanding Broadway Debut award - and the producer failed to remember his name. Further information about the production can be found on the show web site via the link from the New York section of TheatreNet.

R C Sheriff's 1920s anti war play Journey's End will open at the Comedy Theatre on 21st January. Set in the trenches of the First World War, a new arrival among a group of British officers is shocked to find the effect the experience has had on his former friend. The producer is Background Productions.

Actress Imogen Stubbs first play We Happy Few, starring Marcia Warren, Helen Ryan, Emma Pike and Cat Simmons, directed by Stephen Rayne, is currently at the Malvern Theatre. It tells the true story of the Osiris Repertory Company, a group of seven women who formed a touring theatre group during the Second World War, eventually building up a repertoire of over 100 plays, and giving some 1500 performances in school halls across Britain.

The Birmingham Stage Company production of Philippa Pearce's 1950s children's story Tom's Midnight Garden, adapted by David Wood, plays a season at the Old Rep in Birmingham from 19th November to 31st January, prior to an extensive regional tour. It features Stefan Butler, Claire Cooper, Howard Gossington, Geoff Plews, Margaret Robertson, Cameron Slater, Timothy Speyer and Susanna Tidy, and is directed by Graeme Messer. One night while he is staying with his aunt and uncle, in order to avoid catching measles from his brother, a boy hears the grandfather clock strike 13, and travels in time and space to a beautiful and mysterious Victorian garden.

The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust is seeking applications for its award of up to 30,000 for emerging practitioners in experimental theatre. It will be given to the creative artist or group that submits a new bold, innovative and challenging project of outstanding merit, to help realise a fully resourced professional production. The winner will have the opportunity to perform a three week run at the Riverside Studios in November, plus support in financial management, contracting, press and publicity, and assistance in the long term strategic development of their work. Applications must be submitted by 20th February. Further information can be found on the OSBTT web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Holly Hunter may join the list of West End bound Hollywood names next year, reprising her role from the San Jose Repertory Theatre production of The Bog Of Cats, a new version of Medea by Irish playwright Marina Carr; that Simon Callow will star in Simon Gray's Holy Terror (a reworked version of his 1987 play Melon) early next year; that the musical based on the film Billy Elliot will premiere in Newcastle in August, retaining creatives director Stephen Daldry, writer Lee Hall and choreographer Peter Darling, with music by Elton John; and that Adam Cooper (the grown up Billy Elliot) will choreograph next year's Donmar Warehouse production of Grand Hotel. The Rumour Machine grinds on.