Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Once again British theatre is well represented in Broadway's 1998 Tony Award nominations announced at a gathering at Sardi's this week. They include Richard Briers, Geraldine McEwan and Simon McBurney for The Chairs; Alfred Molina and Matthew Warchus for Art; and Alan Cumming, Natasha Richardson and Sam Mendes for Cabaret. Full details can be found on the Tony Awards Online web site via our Organisations section.
Despite the queue of major Broadway shows looking for a large capacity London theatre, the Lyceum seems to have given up on finding one, and has accepted advanced bookings for the autumn and winter. First comes Steve Coogan's one man show, which is currently touring, arriving on 28th September, produced by Phil McIntyre. This will be followed by a Christmas season of Birmingham Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker presented by Victor Hochhauser. It will play head to head with English National Ballet's production, making its traditional festive visit to the Coliseum.
The Donmar Warehouse is replacing its new musical with a cabaret season of Divas At Donmar from 10th August to 5th September. These will include the legendary Barbara Cook, an American sister act new to London and Imelda Staunton with an 18 piece big band. Staunton will premiere this act, in which she will not be singing show songs, at the Talk Of London from 17th to 20th May.
Technology has finally conquered one of the biggest threats to theatregoing. C-Guard is a new device from Israel which allows buildings to jam the airwaves so that mobile phone calls cannot be made or received. A box of electronics, itself about the size of a cellular phone, detects signals coming to or going from a phone, and then fills the space with radiowaves, thus drowning them out. It should be available in Britain by the end of this year. A new Lottery good cause should be set up immediately to pay for the installation of these devices in all places of entertainment and artistic endeavour by the millennium.
The Young Vic is following the RSC season by re-establishing a resident company of twelve actors and three musicians in a repertoire of Twelfth Night opening on 2nd June, and As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, adapted by Edward Kemp, from 8th June. The Faulkner play tells the story of a poor American family in the 1930's travelling across the Deep South to fulfil their Mother's dying wish. Both productions are directed by Tim Supple. There is a programme of seminars and question times with the creative team throughout the season, which will include signed performances.
Gerry Robinson is making his presence felt at the Arts Council in downgrading its clients expectations. Having already thrown out the Richard Rogers plan for redeveloping the South Bank Centre as being too costly, he has now done the same to the Royal Shakespeare Company. The RSC originally applied for a £3.5m grant for work on all three Stratford theatres, including building a replacement for The Other Place. Revised applications of around half the original figures are expected from both the SBC and RSC. Robinson has also said that he will not guarantee continued funding for any of the Arts Council's existing clients.
On The Casting Couch: Lesley Joseph will play Miss Hannigan in the autumn revival of Annie; Clive Rowe is spending the summer in Regents Park in Troilus And Cressida and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; and at Chichester, Denis Quilley and Dinsdale Landen will star in Racing Demon and Emilia Fox will play Katherine Howard.