News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 8th June 2007

With 31,000 performances, of 2,050 shows (304 of which will be free), in 250 venues, involving 18,626 performers, the 61st Edinburgh Festival Fringe, running from 5th to 27th August, is once again bigger than ever, retaining its position as the world's largest arts festival. Highlights include: Potted Potter - The Unauthorised Harry Experience - A Parody By Dan And Jeff, all the books in sixty minutes, written and performed by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, directed by Dominic Knutton and Richard Hurst; a National Theatre of Scotland workshop production of Venus As A Boy, an adaptation of Luke Sutherland's novel about power of sexuality, created and performed by Tam Dean Burn; Home Truths presents Teenage Kicks, a journey through the life and times of John Peel, written and directed by Paul Hodson; and Nimble Fish with Clare Bayley's The Container, in which the audience shares the confines of a container with five illegal immigrants travelling to the UK. Further information and online booking can be found on the Edinburgh Fringe web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Royal Court Theatre is to hold an open day on 23rd June, to give theatregoers the chance to take a look at the internal workings of a theatre. Between 11am and 6pm there will be talks, tours, workshops, exhibitions and performances taking place around the building, most of which will be free. Among those taking part will be artistic directors Dominic Cooke, Max Stafford-Clark, directors Maria Aberg and Sacha Wares, writer Simon Stephens, and Lindsay Duncan and Richard Wilson. The theme of the day will be Firsts, and scenes from Royal Court playwrights' debut plays will be staged throughout the day. As many of the workshops and tours will have limited availability, they will need to be booked in advance.

Satisfaction - The Dance Concert, a dance work billed as 'sex, dance and rock 'n' roll', choreographed by Peter Schaufuss, to a score comprised of 24 Rolling Stones hits, featuring 25 dancers, and caricatures of the group members by Gerald Scarfe, will receive its British premiere at the Apollo Theatre for a limited season from 28th August to 8th September.

Rather more homespun than Glyndebourne, Iford Manor, Bradford on Avon, hosts outdoor opera performances in the round in the Peto garden, plus promenade style jazz and world music and chamber concerts, from 23rd June to 4th August. This season's new opera productions are Iford Festival Opera with Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, directed by Jeff Clarke; The Early Opera Company performing Cavalli's La Calisto, with Claire Booth, Amy Freston, Stephen Wallace and Maddie Shaw, directed by Oliver Mears; and Opera della Luna with Donizetti's L'Elisir D'Amore, directed by Jeff Clarke. The garden opens for picnics at 6pm with opera performances beginning at 7.45pm. Further information can be found on the Iford Arts web site, via the link from Festivals & Events in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Bush Theatre production of Elling, by Simon Bent, based on the novel by Ingvar Ambjornsen, about a dysfunctional couple trying to convince their social worker that they have reassimilated back into society, with John Simm, Adrian Bower, Keir Charles, Ingrid Lacey and Jonathan Cecil, directed by Paul Miller, will transfer to Trafalgar Studios 1 on 4th July.

The Society Of London Theatre has published the Box Office Data Report 2006, providing detailed analysis of attendance figures and box office returns in the West End, which includes the major commercial and grant-aided theatres. Overall attendances in 2006 were the highest on record at 12,357,427, with the capacity sold equalling the previous best ever figure. The arrival of eagerly anticipated musicals saw a sharp increase in advance bookings, up more than 20% on the previous year. As well as exploring the attendance statistics as a whole, the report also analyses the differences in number of performances, attendance and receipts between the subsidised and commercial sectors, and discusses audience trends in relation to category of production. The Box Office Data Report is essential reading for theatre investors, producers, and theatre marketers, as well as those in academic and government sectors dealing with the performing arts. Further information can be found on the SOLT web site via the link opposite below.

The summer season at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury will include another new version of the already much reworked musical Martin Guerre, music by Claude-Michel Schonberg, French lyrics by Alain Boublil, English lyrics by Edward Hardy and Stephen Clark, additional lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, with a cast of 12 actor/musicians, directed by Craig Revel Horwood, opening on 16th July. The show is based on a French folk tale of the 16th century, about a peasant arriving at a village after fighting in a war, who is not the man he claims to be. The cast comprises Andrew Bevis, Karen Mann, Kelly O'Leary, Ben Goddard, Esther Biddle, Michael Howcroft, Ken Orton, Rosie Simpson, James Traherne, Jez Unwin, Susannah van den Berg and Johnson Willis.

On The Casting Couch: Preeya Kalidas, Dean Collinson, Stephen Tate will provide professional support to the 'reality' television programme winner in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, opening at the Adelphi Theatre on 17th July; and Sally Anne Triplett will be joined by Ian Bartholomew, Michael Jibson, Sam Kenyon and Elliot Levey in the Richard Maltby-David Shire-John Wiedman musical Take Flight, opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark on 25th July.

Oxford Shakespeare Company will again be performing a season of open air productions, with A Midsummer Night's Dream at Wadham College Gardens in Oxford from 3rd July to 3rd August, at Kensington Palace from 4th to 17th August and the East Front Garden of Hampton Court Palace from 18th to 26th August; and Romeo And Juliet at Wadham College Gardens in Oxford from 11th to 16th August

Australian writer Melanie Tait's semi autobiographical comedy The Vegemite Tales, about a group of young antipodeans sharing a west London flat, will return for a second summer season at The Venue, off Leicester Square, from 26th July to 27th October. As before, Bill Buckhurst directs, and the producer is Itchy Feet Theatre.

The Rumour Machine says: that Bad Girls The Musical, the show based on the television series about a women's prison, which premiered at West Yorkshire Playhouse last year, will open at the Garrick Theatre in September; and that the sellout Broadway musical Jersey Boys, the back catalogue show about '60s pop group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, will open at the Prince Edward Theatre in the new year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.