News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th April 2009

The 115th season of the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts takes place at the Royal Albert Hall between 17th July and 12th September, featuring over 100 concerts for the first time. The world's greatest classical music festival centres on 76 main concerts (at least one every evening) with consistently low ticket prices, including half price tickets for under 16s, and 500 'promming' tickets at only £5 each, available every day 30 minutes before the doors open. In addition, there is a series of 19 lunch time Chamber Music Proms at the Cadogan Hall, Late Night Proms starting around 10pm, and 73 Proms Plus events, such as pre-prom and composer portrait talks, family orchestra concerts and afternoon films at the Royal College of Music. All concerts are broadcast live on Radio 3, with many televised on BBC4, and available via audio and video webcasts. Among the highlights are a Bollywood Prom; Multiple Pianos day; large scale performances of Handel's Messiah and Haydn's The Creation; a celebration of classic MGM film musicals; Daniel Barenboim's West-Eastern Divan Orchestra; and a weekend of concerts celebrating English composers who died 75 years ago: Delius, Elgar and Holst. The Last Night will include the 14th outdoor Proms In The Park, with 35,000 people in Hyde Park, and simultaneous concerts running in County Down, Glasgow, Salford and Swansea, plus big screen relays in 9 other cities. All five live events culminate in live big screen link ups with the Royal Albert Hall. Further information can be found on the BBC Proms web site, via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Future productions at the Theatre Royal Windsor will include Hugh and Margaret Williams's comedy The Grass Is Greener, about a couple who open their stately home to make ends meet, and get romantically involved with two of the visitors, with Liza Goddard and Christopher Cazenove, opening a national tour on 22nd April; and Frederick Knott's thriller Write Me A Murder, the story of two writers who concoct the perfect crime, which is soon twisted into a reality, with Leslie Grantham, Christopher Villiers and Paul Opacic, directed by Ian Dickens, opening a national tour on 26th May.

Unions and trade bodies have united to establish a new cross industry network, to promote the interests of the cultural sector, and speak out on behalf of the arts in times of crisis. Called Era21, the group is made up of the Independent Theatre Council, National Campaign for the Arts, Theatrical Management Association, Dance UK, Equity, Bectu, Musicians' Union, Association of British Orchestras, Museums Association and the Visual Arts and Galleries Associations. It has been formed following Arts Council England's controversial spending review last year, which highlighted a failure of leadership in the sector, and the industry's apparent obsession with the actions of the funding body. Era21 aims to improve advocacy and leadership within the industry, and to deepen debate and strengthen the confidence of the sector and its engagement to the wider world.

Glyndebourne's 75th anniversary season, running from 21st May to 30th August, will comprise: new productions of Verdi's Falstaff, with Christopher Purves, directed by Richard Jones; Purcell's The Fairy Queen, with Carolyn Sampson, Lucy Crowe and Ed Lyons, directed by Jonathan Kent, with choreography by Kim Brandstrup; and Dvorak's Rusalka, with Brandon Jovanovich, Tatiana Pavlovskaya and Ana María Martínez, directed by Melly Still; plus revivals of David Mcvicar's production of Handel's Giulio Cesare, with Sarah Connolly and Danielle de Niese; Annabel Arden's production of Donizett's L'elisir d'amore, with Peter Auty and Ekaterina Siurina; and Nikolaus Lehnhoff's production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, with Torsten Kerl and Anja Kampe,. There is a programme of early evening talks about each of the operas at The English Speaking Union in London prior to the start of the season, study events at Glyndebourne giving historical background and musical analysis of the new productions, and pre performance talks on each of the productions. Further information can be found on the Glyndebourne web site, via the link from Regional Theatres in the Links section of TheatreNet.

David Lan's Painting A Wall, which follows the day in the life of four Cape Coloured South African painters, living under apartheid in 1970s Cape Town, directed by Titas Halder, will open at The Finborough Theatre in Earl's Court on 14th May, produced by JQ Productions and Generation 2.

Terence Rattigan's The Winslow Boy, in which the defence of a boy expelled from school for stealing becomes a cause celebre, with Timothy West, Claire Cox, Rachel Edwards, Diane Fletcher, Sarah Flind, Thomas Howes, Tom Jude, Adrian Lukis, Roger May, John Sackville and Hugh Wyld, directed by Stephen Unwin, will open a national tour at the Rose Theatre in Kingston on 15th May.

Historic Photos Of Broadway: New York Theater 1815-1970 by Leonard Jacobs, recently published by Turner Publishing, offers a fascinating commentary on a series of 240 previously unpublished photographs of shows garnered from the Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Extremely wide ranging, it encompasses everything from long forgotten tragedians and comedians, to the lavish musicals of the Gershwins, Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hammerstein and the Zeigfeld Follies, to the dramas of Eugene O'Neil, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee. The unparalleled look behind the scenes includes photographs of, amongst others, the Booths, the Barrymores, the Lunts, Sarah Bernhardt, George M Cohan, Ethel Merman, Marlon Brando, Carol Channing and Zero Mostel. Images range from a time when Times Square was still farmland, to include such theatres as the Lyceum, the Winter Garden and the Music Box.

Ingmar Bergman's Saraband, translated and adapted by Jeffry Kaplow and Ulla Svahnstrom Kaplow, weaving together love and conflict, the tragedy of growing old and the need to let go, with Jeffry Kaplow, Eileen Nicholas, Philip Rahm and Augustina Seymour, directed by Derek Bond, will receive its British stage premiere at the Jermyn Street Theatre, off Piccadilly, on 28th April.

The latest exhibition at the Royal Opera House celebrates the centenary of the birth of dancer and choreographer Robert Helpmann, who played a vital role in the early years of The Royal Ballet. It recalls his contribution to the development of the company with a chronological display of costumes and photographs. The costumes include those from Coppelia, designed by Osbert Lancaster in 1950; Helpmann's 1942 ballet Hamlet, designed by Leslie Hurry; and Frederick Ashton's Cinderella, designed in 1948 by Jean-Denis Malcles. In addition, a selection of film posters from the BFI National Archive recalls Helpmann's film career. The exhibition runs until 8th August.