News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 8th July 2011

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the 14th Kids Week in the West End, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience, with thousands of free tickets and special events. Once again this year it has double the fun, as it is extended to a fortnight, running from 12th to 26th August. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to 31 West End shows, with up to two additional children at half price. There will be accompanying events taking place during the two weeks, including backstage tours, workshops, classes, storytelling and 'meet the cast' opportunities. There are also freebies and discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages. Booking opens on 12th July. Further information can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link opposite.

City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds is scheduled to reopen on 18th September with a Gala fundraising event featuring Ken Dodd, following a 9.2m restoration and refurbishment programme. This has seen the auditorium returned to its 1890s glory, while the foyer has been enlarged, and the dressing block rebuilt. The reopening season will include the premiere of Big Society!, a musical comedy following the exploits of an Edwardian Music Hall variety show cast, by Boff Whalley of Chumbawamba, who will perform in the show with Phill Jupitus, Kyla Goodey, Harry Hamer, Lisa Howard and Dean Nolan, directed by Rod Dixon, opening on 20th January, produced by Red Ladder Theatre Company.

Following an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe, the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Ruby Wax: Losing It, text by Ruby Wax, music and lyrics by Judith Owen, in which the duo present a darkly comic examination of the pressures of contemporary life that result in 1 in 4 people suffering mental illness, directed by Thea Sharrock, will play a 5 week season at the Duchess Theatre, opening on 1st September.

Let's Do It, a dance show set to film and theatre scores, created by and featuring Anton du Beke and Erin Boag, will open a national tour at the Derngate Theatre in Northampton on 19th January, which will include an appearance at the Royal Festival Hall on 25th February. The producer is Raymond Gubbay.

New York TheatreNet: The recent Kennedy Center Washington production of the musical Follies, book by James Goldman, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, in which a group of former Follies stars return to their theatre as it is about to be demolished, provoking memories and a reassessment of their lives and what could have been, directed by Eric Schaeffer, with choreography by Warren Carlyle, will open on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre on September 12th. The cast will be headed by Bernadette Peters, Jan Maxwell, Danny Burstein, Ron Raines and Elaine Paige. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

The autumn season at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston will include Roland Schimmelpfennig's The Golden Dragon, translated by David Tushingham, a tragicomic tale of globalisation set in a local takeaway, with David Beames, Adam Best, Ann Firbank, Kathryn O'Reilly and Jack Tartlon playing multiple characters, directed by Ramin Gray, opening on 2nd September, an Actors Touring Company/Drum Theatre Plymouth production; Sarah Kane's Phaedra's Love, a blackly comic version of Seneca's tragedy of monarchy, incest and fatal obsession, directed by Bronwen Carr, opening on 30th September, a Reduced Circumstances production; and Speechless, by Linda Brogan and Polly Teale, based on The Silent Twins by Marjorie Wallace, about the identical twins who refuse to speak, and communicate only with each other in their own private language, directed by Polly Teale, a Shared Experience production, from 26th October.

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered, a celebration of the music and lyrics of Rodgers and Hart, devised by Tim McArthur and David Harvey, with Stephen Ashfield, Katie Kerr, Valerie Cutko, Laura Armstrong and Tim McArthur, directed by McArthur, with musical staging by Phil Aiden, will play at the Jermyn Street Theatre, off Piccadilly, from 28th July.

Respect La Diva, a tribute show featuring songs of 5 decades of female singers, with Sheila Ferguson, Denise Pearson, Katy Setterfield and Zoe Birkett, hosted by Andy Abraham, conceived and directed by Adrian Grant, with choreography by Racky Plews, will play a season at the Garrick Theatre from 8th to 24th September.

Scottish Opera's 2011/2012 season will include new productions of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, directed by David McVicar; Humperdinck's Hansel And Gretel, directed by Bill Bankes-Jones; and Offenbach's Orpheus In The Underworld, in a new translation by Rory Bremner, directed by Oliver Mears, a co-production with Northern Ireland Opera; plus revivals of Rossini's The Barber Of Seville, directed by Thomas Allen; and Puccini's Tosca, directed by Anthony Besch. Prokofiev's Betrothal In A Monastery will be the annual production in association with the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. There will also be Edinburgh Fringe productions of Weill and Brecht's The Seven Deadly Sins, directed by Kally Lloyd-Jones, a co-production with Company Chordelia; and Mark-Anthony Turnage's Greek, directed by Michael McCarthy, a co-production with Music Theatre Wales.

Forthcoming productions at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith will include Halcyon Days, written and directed by Shoji Kokami, in a translation by Aya Ogawa, examining the cult popularity of suicide websites in contemporary Japanese culture, with Mark Rawlings, Abigail Boyd, Joe Morrow and Dan Ford, opening on 25th August, a W-Squared production; and A Round-Heeled Woman, written and directed by Jane Prowse, based on Jane Juskak's book documenting her search for sexual partners at the age of 67, with Sharon Gless, from 18th October, produced by Brian Eastman and Andrew Welch.

Ben Brown's Three Days In May, a political thriller set in 10 Downing Street during 1940, when the government had to decide between surrendering to Germany or escalating the war, with Warren Clarke as Winston Churchill, directed by Alan Strachan, will open a prospective pre West End tour at the Theatre Royal in Windsor on 16th August. The producer is Bill Kenwright.