News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th April 1998

This year's Holland Park Opera Season runs from 16th June to 27th August with a repertoire consisting of Holland Park Opera productions of Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagiliacci, Iris retained from the 1977 season, Die Fledermaus and the first major British showing of L'Arlesiana; with guest productions of Dido And Aeneas by Midsummer Opera, Lucia di Lammermoor by European Chamber Opera and La Traviata by English Festival Opera. General Booking opens on 11th May at Holland Park and on 0171 602 7856.

Following its successful launch of ballet in the round at the Royal Albert Hall last May with Swan Lake, English National Ballet returns with artistic director Derek Deane's new staging of Romeo And Juliet, playing from 18th to 30th June. Once again it is co-produced by Raymond Gubbay and the Royal Albert Hall. It will be interesting to see if an essentially intimate story can be presented successfully in arena style.

Fiona Shaw's performance of The Waste Land last Christmas, has created renewed interest in Wilton's Music Hall, which is in Grace's Alley, Ensign Street, between Cable Street and The Highway E1. The London Music Hall Trust is making a Lottery bid to fund restoration of "the finest hall in London", and is staging a series of five lectures about its history. These will take place on the last Sundays of each month from April to August, at 2.30pm, and tickets are 8.00. Further information from the Trust on 0181 521 8215.

David Mamet's latest play The Old Neighbourhood, still playing in New York, is to open at the Royal Court on 17th June for a six week run. Starring Colin Stinton and Zoe Wannamaker in the roles created by Peter Reigert and Patti LuPone, it will be directed by Patrick Marber. The piece is actually three one act plays exploring different aspects of the leading character's life, as he returns to his roots and recalls his childhood.

In a further "outside the bunker" project, the National Theatre is presenting an interactive promenade production of Twelfth Night directed by Bridgid Larmour, at the Spitalfields Market Opera House on 15th and 16th April. Tickets can be booked through the National's box office. Also on the 16th April, as part of the Theatre Square launch, in addition to the free street entertainment and children's activities, backstage tours at 10.15am, 12.15pm and 5.15pm will cost just 50p, but must be booked in advance.

This year's season at the troubled Chichester Festival Theatre will consist of Eduardo de Filippo's Saturday, Sunday, Monday with David Suchet, directed by Jude Kelly; Orson Wells' Falstaff play Chimes At Midnight starring Simon Callow, directed by Patrick Garland; Katherine Howard a new play by William Nicholson, with Richard Griffiths as Henry VIII; and David Hare's Racing Demon. These will be straight runs instead of the usual repertoire and they will not tour afterwards. No programme for the Minerva Studio has yet been announced, but it is expected to include new work.

The sixth cast of Art at Wyndhams Theatre from 21st April is Richard Griffiths, Tony Haygarth and Malcolm Storry - like Roger Allum currently, making a second appearance in a different role. Director Matthew Warchus has said he would like all three members of the cast to be able to play more than one part so that they could change round each night. He tried this idea out in his 1994 Donmar Warehouse production of Sam Shepherd's play about two brothers True West, when the actors playing the brothers alternated roles.

The Rumour Machine says: THAT continuing financial problems, because of lack of Arts Council funding, have resulted in the cancellation of the D'Oyly Carte Opera's autumn productions - although they still hope to stage some concert performances; THAT following Quentin Tarantino's stage debut in a revival of the thriller Wait Until Dark in New York, one of our "new" producers is considering an equally audacious casting coup for a production here; THAT in a further placatory move towards Luvvies for Labour, Melvyn Bragg may be offered the chairmanship of the new Lottery good cause body NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) - it shows they are on the run, when having put businessmen in charge of the arts, they put artists in charge of the sciences; THAT Julie Taymor, the director of Disney's The Lion King, is in London looking at possible theatres for the show's West End debut, now scheduled for June 1999; THAT the song Kiri Te Kanawa sang at Andrew Lloyd Webber's 50th birthday bash is from Phantom II (The Mask Hits New York), and that Antonio Banderas, who sang The Phantom Of The Opera, is under consideration to play the Phantom in the film; THAT Mary Allen, having made such a good fist of running the Royal Opera House, is a contender for chief executive of the South Bank Centre, while Edinburgh Festival director Brian McMaster has been approached to replace her at Covent Garden; THAT tickets are about to go on sale for the Adventures in Motion Pictures sixteen week Broadway presentation of Swan Lake at the Neil Simon Theatre from 8th October (co-produced with Cameron Mackintosh); THAT the new Ministry Of Comedy at the Whitehall Theatre may have to close after just two weekends because of licensing problems with Westminster council; THAT Donmar Warehouse is moving its production of Juno And The Paycock forward to open on 17th September, so may be scrapping its new musical, and while the Pet Shop Boys musical may go to Donmar it won't be this year; and THAT producers of the TV series The House, about the travails of Covent Garden, are planning an update special cataloguing the dramas which have unfolded since the series was filmed.The Rumour Machine grinds on.