News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 8th July 2005

The National Theatre has announced new production in its autumn season. In the Olivier: the premiere of Coram Boy, adapted by Helen Edmundson from the novel by Jamila Gavin, which follows the fortunes of two orphans in 18th century England, one rescued from an African slave ship, the other an abandoned son of the heir to a great estate, directed by Melly Still; and George S Kaufman and Moss Hart's classic American comedy Once In A Lifetime, about three New Yorkers who abandon their vaudeville act to set up a voice school for silent movie stars wanting to get into 'talkies', directed by Edward Hall. In the Lyttelton: Samuel Adamson's new version of Henrik Ibsen's Pillars Of The Community, about a businessman who, when his reputation is threatened by a long buried secret, devises an escape plan that engulfs him, directed by Marianne Elliott; and a brief appearance of Just For Show, a new production by physical theatre company DV8, using projection, illusion, word play and dark humour to explore the idea that what matters nowadays is not how good you are, but how good you look, directed by Lloyd Newson. In the Cottesloe: Mike Leigh's play - still untitled - which has been in development for some years, will finally receive its premiere, with John Burgess, Ben Caplan, Allan Corduner, Adam Godley, Caroline Gruber, Nitzan Sharron, Samantha Spiro and Alexis Zegerman; and Howard Brenton's new play Paul, an irreverent look at faith, through the Biblical story of Saul, and the road to Damascus, directed by Howard Davies.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Joseph Fiennes will star in John Osborne's rarely staged early play Epitaph For George Dillon, co-written with Anthony Creighton, about a bohemian actor and writer who becomes involved with a dull lower middle class suburban family, directed by Peter Gill, opening at the Comedy Theatre on 27th September. The producers are Act Productions, Roger Chapman, Matthew Mitchell and Kim Poster.

Adrian Lukis, Caroline Langrishe, Jeremy Clyde, Polly Adams, Daisy Beaumont, Jaqueline Clarke, Damien Goodwin and Mat Ruttle are to star in the premiere of Marrying The Mistress, adapted and directed by David Taylor from the novel by Joanna Trollope, which opens a regional tour at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on 30th August. It tells of the effects on the extended family, when a judge announces that after many years of marriage, he is leaving his wife to marry his younger mistress. The producers are Nick Brooke and Kenneth Wax.

After four years of touring, the Tall Stories Theatre Company production of The Gruffalo, a musical adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's children's picture book, will open at the Criterion Theatre on 19th July for a five week season of daytime performances. It is the tale of a mouse in a forest who invents stories about a terrifying creature to scare off predators, but then comes face to face with his imaginary creation. The cast is led by Mark Peachey and Abbey Norman, and directed by Toby Mitchell from Olivia Jacobs's original production.

British Theatres And Music Halls by John Earl, recently published by Shire Publications, outlines the history of theatres and music halls from the late 16th century to the present time. It charts changing fashions in entertainment and evolving attitudes to safety that have influenced the architectural character of the buildings. Particular attention is given to the thirty five years before the First World War, when music hall and variety entertainment developed rapidly, accompanied by a massive surge in theatre building. It is richly illustrated with photographs and drawings of theatres inside and out, their architects and their audiences. The book was commissioned by The Theatres Trust, the body charged by Acts of Parliament with 'the better protection of theatres'.

Pantomime is to make its first appearance at London Zoo. The Hiss & Boo Theatre Company's production of Dick Whittington, directed by and featuring Ian Adams, will play in a specially constructed auditorium at the Zoo, at 12noon, 3pm and 6pm from 23rd December to 8th January. A combined show and Zoo entrance ticket will be available for the first two shows each day.

The Watermill Theatre in Newbury has announced its autumn season, which includes: Jean Anouilh's farce Thieves' Carnival, about two aristocratic young women falling victim to the charms of two handsome thieves while holidaying on the Riviera, directed by Andy Brereton; Michael Frayn's Copenhagen, in which German nuclear physicist Werner Heisenberg visits Danish colleague Niels Bohr in Nazi occupied Copenhagen to discuss developments in atomic research, directed by Heather Davies; The Jungle Book, adapted by Neil Duffield from the Rudyard Kipling stories, with music by Jane Armour, directed by Andy Brereton; and Ranjit Bolt's version of Moliere's Tartuffe, about a con man who attempts to deceive a gentleman with a false show of piety, directed by Jonathan Munby.

This year's open air Cannizaro Park Festival in Wimbledon runs from 13th to 29th August. The programme includes Opera - Opera Box in Puccini's La Traviata and Swansea City Opera in Rossini's The Barber Of Seville; Comedy - Jongleurs Nights featuring the latest names on the stand up circuit; and Music - including lunchtime jazz, swing, gospel, classics, musical theatre and Second World War favourites. Further information can be found on the CPF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet

The latest production by Shared Experience, the theatre company that specialises in bringing literary works to the stage, is Bronte, written and directed by Polly Teale, with Diane Beck, Catherine Cusack, David Fielder,

Natalia Tena, Matthew Thomas and Fenella Woolgar. The piece evokes the real and imagined worlds of the household of writers Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Bramwell Bronte, as fictional characters come to haunt their creators. It opens a regional tour at Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford on 25th August, which includes a visit to the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith from 1st to 26th November.

Circus Oz, the original contemporary circus company, returns to London at the Royal Festival Hall from 28th July to 21st August, prior to a national tour. The Australian company was the first to stage a show entirely devoted to circus skills rather than animals in 1977. It is presented by Raymond Gubbay.

The Rumour Machine says: that American director Joe Mantello and choreographer Matthew Bourne are in discussions about collaborating on a Broadway production of the Rodgers and Hart musical Pal Joey; that Michael Flatley will return to Britain in the autumn with Celtic Tiger, a new multi media dance extravaganza portraying key moments from Irish history, which he has devised, choreographed, stars in and co-produced with Clear Channel Entertainment; and that Caroline O'Connor, who is about to open in Sydney as Judy Garland in End Of The Rainbow, Peter Quilter's play about the singer's final days, will bring the production to London next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.