News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 8th April 2004

The Edinburgh International Festival has announced a programme of over 160 performances of 111 different events in this year's festival, runing from 15th August to 5th September, for which booking opens on 17th April. Theatre highlights include the Centre Dramatique National/Orleans-Loret-Centre 11 hour production of Paul Claudel's Le Soulier de Satin, an epic tale of two would be lovers constantly separated by the forces of history and duty; and Fernando de Rojas's Celestina, the story of an ever resourceful procuress, starring Kathryn Hunter, directed by Calixto Bieito, a Teatre Romea Barcelona/Birmingham Repertory Theatre co-production. Opera highlights include the world premiere of Christof Willibald Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice by Emio Greco/PC and Opera North. Dance highlights include Rambert Dance Company with Mahler And Dance, set to song cycles by Mahler, sung by Jane Irwin and Gerald Finley, including the world premiere of Songs Of A Wayfarer, choreographed by Kim Branstrup. Further information can be found on the EIF web site, via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Paul Nicholas is to star in and co-produce the British premiere of the Broadway musical Jekyll & Hyde, which opens a prospective pre London tour at the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne in late August. Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson story of the man with a personality changing potion, the book and lyrics are by Leslie Bricusse and music by Frank Wildhorn. The co-producer is UK Productions.

Prior to this, Paul Nicholas will join Mary Tamm, John Benfield, Alan Granville, Carol Holt and Sarah McCardie in Eric Chappell's new comedy Mixed Feelings, directed by Jeremy Meadow, which opens a national tour at the Malvern Festival Theatre on 13th April. Suffering from a mid life crisis, a suburban husband and father disappears for six months, and when he returns, he is a very different man.

Covent Garden has announced its new season starting in the autumn. Royal Opera highlights include: the world premiere of 1984, based on George Orwell's novel by Lorin Maazel, with libretto by J D McClatchy and Thomas Meehan, directed by Robert Lepage; new productions of Massinet's Werther, directed by Benoit Jacquot; Verdi's Un Ballo In Maschera, directed by Mario Martone; Puccini's Il Turco In Italia, directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser; Verdi's La Forza Del Destino, directed by Hugo de Ana, from La Scala Milan; Dinizetti's Don Pasquale, directed by Jonathan Miller, from the Maggio Musicale Florence; and the start of a new Ring Cycle with Das Rheingold and Die Walkure, directed by Keith Warner; plus revivals of Martinu's The Greek Passion, Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti, Die Zauberflote and Mitredante, Re Di Ponto, Gunod's Faust, Puccini's La Rondine, Turandot, Madama Butterfly and La Boheme, and Verdi's La Traviata, Rigoletto and Otello.

The Royal Ballet will present a Frederick Ashton centenary tribute season, reviving a number of works in mixed programmes, and the full length ballets Sylvia, La Fille mal gardee, Cinderella and Ondine; plus Kenneth MacMillan's Manon, and Anthony Dowell's Swan Lake. There will be new works by Christopher Weeldon and Christopher Bruce. A new venture, similar to that at the National Theatre, will see 100 seats available for just 10 on 22 Monday nights during the season. Further information can be found on the ROH web site via the link from the London Theatres section of TheatreNet.

The Young Vic production of the Langston Hughes-David Martin musical Simply Heavenly, directed by Josette Bushell-Mingo, will launch the 96 seat space in the Trafalgar Studios, at the reconfigured Whitehall Theatre, in September. The show centres on a bar in Harlem in the 1950s, and played at the Young Vic early last year, when it featured Nicola Hughes, Jason Pennycooke, Clive Rowe, Cat Simmons, Rashan Stone and Ruby Turner. The Young Vic may continue to stage shows in the venue while its own building is closed for refurbishment. The Young Vic Book - Theatre Work and Play, by Ruth Little, Artistic Associate of the Young Vic, includes a short history of the theatre and its participatory work with young people, a range of games and exercises for exploring plays in performance, and insights into the directing process. It is available at a special offer price of 6 (usually 12.99) at the theatre - proceeds go towards the refurbishment fund.

This year's Shakespeare Birthday Festival at Shakespeare's Globe will throw the theatre open to the public from 11am on the anniversary itself, 23rd April, with members of the Globe company and street performers on hand to recreate the atmosphere of Elizabethan times. There will be guided tours, and members of the public will be able to perform their favourite Shakespeare speech from the stage. At 6.30pm in the Middle Temple Hall, the Spearshaker Talk, hosted by Jeremy Paxman, will explore the work of the Samaritans in relation this year's play Romeo And Juliet, with excerpts performed by the company. This will be followed by the annual spring blessing of the Globe with water from the Thames, and an Italian banquet on the stage. The traditional Sonnet Walks will take place on Saturday 24th April, during which twelve sonneteers will entertain walkers along routes to Bankside. Participants have a choice of two tours of Tudor London, starting from either Westminster or Shoreditch. Tours leave every 15 minutes from 10.00am to 12.45pm. Further information can be found on the Shakespeare's Globe web site via the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Jessica Martin, Beth Hayward, Paul Rogan, Keith Wickham and Bruce Montague star in Taste The Love, a new comedy with music about the comeback of a former 1970s Eurovision Song Contest winning group, at the Jermyn Street Theatre from 13th to 24th April. The producer is Fake Four.

David Haig and Belinda Lang star in Haig's My Boy Jack, directed by John Dove, which opens a national tour at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford on 14th April. The play centres on the bitter family conflict triggered by author Rudyard Kipling's determination to see his son fight in the trenches in the First World War. It is the first production by Haig Lang Productions, formed to tour quality theatre around the UK.

This year's BAC Opera season, running from 6th to 29th May is titled Virtually Opera and takes the theme of new technologies. Highlights include: Madestrange's Black And Blue, which employs internet chat rooms and video conferencing; Exposure: A Digital Opera , featuring Bill Gates wandering through his empire in the dead of night, which has a virtual cast computer generated by The Popular Society with music performed by Kleboe gmbh; and The Capsule's Columbia, with live singers and musicians performing alongside a video design mixing visuals to create the image of a doomed spaceship. There are also mixed-media events such as The Opera Room, a live and interactive installation made up of hundreds of operatic fragments that come to life as visitors move through the space. Further information can be found on the BAC web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.