News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th May 2008

Joanna Murray-Smith's The Female Of The Species, about a 1970s feminist icon held captive by a fan, with Eileen Aktins, Anna Maxwell-Martin, Sophie Thompson, Sam Kelly and Con O'Neill, directed by Roger Michell, will open at the Vaudeville Theatre on 16th July. Originally set and produced in Australia, the action has been relocated to a British setting. The producer is David Richenthal.

Victor Hochhauser will present a Chinese dance season at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, with the National Ballet of China performing Natalia Makarova's production of Swan Lake, from 28th to 30th July, and Raise The Red Lantern, created for the company from his film by director Zhang Yimou and choreographer Wang Xinpeng, on August 1st and 2nd; to be followed by the Guangdong Acrobatic Troupe of China performing their version of Swan Lake, drawing on classical dance, traditional Chinese acrobatics and elements of Peking Opera, from 5th to 10th August.

Snapshots In Time: 150 Years Of Excellence is an exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the opening of the present Royal Opera House, running until 4th August. A series of showcases and wall displays recall some of the great artists associated with the theatre, though costumes, paintings, caricatures and photographs. These include singers Enrico Caruso, Nellie Melba and Eva Turner, and dancers Margot Fonteyn, Vaslav Nijinsky and Rudolph Nureyev. The exhibition is the first to focus on the theatre itself, reflecting the changes in the building, both front of house and back stage. It includes items of architectural salvage, such as pillars removed from the grand tier during the major redevelopment in 1997, together with architectural models of the redevelopment proposals, and photographs of the Victorian stage machinery removed at that time, together with items not normally on public view, such as the chairs made for the Great Exhibition in 1851, donated by Queen Victoria for use in the royal box.

On The Casting Couch: Joseph Fiennes, Ian Hart and Phyllis Logan feature in 2,000 Feet Away, opening at the Bush Theatre on 16th June; Francesca Annis, Lisa Dillon, Chris O'Dowd and Dominic Rowan will join Catherine Tate in Under The Blue Sky, opening at the Duke of York's Theatre on 16th July; and Lesley Manville will feature in Her Naked Skin, opening at the National Theatre on 31st July.

The 16th Hampton Court Palace Festival runs from 3rd to 21st June, with a series of events in the specially designed theatre, built in the Base Court of the Palace. Artists taking part include Rufus Wainwright, Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, Curtis Stigers, Ray Davies, Sophie Cashell, Katherine Jenkins, Jools Holland, Buena Vista Social Club, Van Morrison, Michael Ball and Nicola Benedetti, plus a concert performance of Bizet's Carmen. Glyndebourne style, audiences are invited to explore the Palace and picnic in the grounds either before the events or during extended supper intervals. Further information can be found on the HCPF web site via link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Theatre Royal Stratford East production of the reggae musical The Harder They Come, adapted from the 1972 film by Perry Henzel, with Rolan Bell, Jacqui Dubois, Derek Elroy, Victor Romero Evans, Joanna Francis, Matthew J Henry, Marlon King, Susan Lawson-Reynolds, Joy Mack, Marcus Powell, Joe Speare and Chris Tummings, directed by Kerry Michael and Dawn Reid, with choreography by Jacki Guy, recently seen at the Barbican, will transfer to the Playhouse Theatre, opening on 9th June. It tells the story of a poor who dreams of becoming a singer, but finds the harsh realities of Jamaican life drive him into violence and crime. The producers are Robert Fox and Michael White.

Productions in the summer season at the Soho Theatre will include: the premiere of Philip Ridley's Piranha Heights, in which two brothers arguing about the truth of their childhood in their dead mother's flat are confronted with violence, with Luke Treadaway, Matthew Wait, Nicholas Tennant, Jade Williams and John McMillan, directed by Lisa Goldman, opening on 21st May; The Diver, by Colin Teevan and Hideki Noda, who also directs, combining the ancient Japanese Tales of Genji, traditional Noh theatre, and a contemporary murder case, with Kathryn Hunter, Glyn Pritchard and Harry Gostelow, opening on 23rd June; and in the Studio, Shelagh Stephenson's The Long Road, about a family struggling to find meaning after their teenage son is stabbed to death, with Denise Black, Alison Newman, Michael Elwynn, Michelle Tate and Stephen Webb, directed by Esther Baker, from 19th May, a co-production by Synergy Theatre and the Forgiveness Project.

The musical Carousel, music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, the doomed love story of a naive mill worker and a glamorous but unreliable roustabout, with Lesley Garrett, Alexandra Silber and Jeremiah James, will open a prospective pre West End tour at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley from 27th September. The producer is Stanhope Productions.

The 30th Association of British Theatre Technicians Theatre Show will take place at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London on 11th and 12th June. As usual, it will be the complete theatre package, featuring the products of over 120 leading lighting, sound and staging manufacturers, costume, prop and scenery makers, and suppliers of seating and soft furnishings, box office and IT systems, print and publicity, insurance and legal services, drama schools, training and safety, books and publications, and leading theatre organisations. There will also be the presentations of the ABTT and Stage Management Association Awards. Further information and online registration can be found on the ABTT and SMA web sites, via the links from Organisations, in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Opera North's spring tour has just opened at the Grand Theatre in Leeds, and continues until 21st June. It features new productions of Verdi's Macbeth, with Robert Hayward and Antonia Cifrone, directed by Tim Albery; Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, with James Laing and Jeni Bern, directed by Martin Duncan; and Gounod's Romeo et Juliette, with Leonardo Capalbo and Bernarda Bobro, directed by John Fulljames.

The Warehouse Theatre Croydon is holding its 23rd International Playwriting Festival, in partnership with Italian theatre association Extra Candoni and Teatro Ena in Cyprus. It is in three parts: a competition for previously unproduced full length plays with entries from all over the world, followed by a series of workshops and readings of ten shortlisted plays, leading on to the presentation of four finalists on 22nd and 23rd November. Last year there were 600 submissions. The deadline for entries is 30th June. Further information and an entry form can be found on the Warehouse web site via the link from the London Venues, in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Russian Imperial Ice Stars, with a cast of 23 Olympic, World, European and National Championship skaters, will perform The Sleeping Beauty, choreographed by Tony Mercer, to music by Tchaikovsky, in a 'tented palace' in the grounds of Chatsworth, Castle Howard, Burghley House, Blenheim Palace and Beaulieu, between 18th July and 25th August.