News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th July 2010

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the 13th 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 27th August. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to 32 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 13th July. Further information can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link opposite.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, J B Priestley's Edwardian comedy When We Are Married, about three couples celebrating their silver wedding anniversaries, who find out an unwelcome secret, with Maureen Lipman, Roy Hudd, Rosemary Ashe, Lynda Baron, Susie Blake, David Horovitch, Sam Kelly and Simon Rouse, directed by Christopher Luscombe, will open at the Garrick Theatre on 27th October. The producers are Duncan C Weldon and Paul Elliot in association with the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford and Nimax Theatres.

The next production at the Old Vic Theatre will be Noel Coward's Design For Living, which follows the developing triangular relationship of three free spirits in the 1930s, moving from Paris, to London, to New York, with Lisa Dillon, Tom Burke and Andrew Scott, directed by Anthony Page, opening in September.

The autumn season at Hampstead Theatre will comprise Shelagh Stephenson's Enlightenment, a psychological thriller about the lengths to which people will go to find the missing pieces of their lives, directed by Edward Hall, opening on 6th October; The Train Driver, written and directed by Athol Fugard, inspired by the true story of a train driver who is compelled to visit the unmarked grave of the woman he unintentionally killed, opening on 9th November; Beasts And Beauties, adapted by Melly Still and Tim Supple from Carol Ann Duffy's dark and dangerous fairytale collection from across Europe, directed by Still, opening on 15th December; Tiger Country, written and directed by Nina Raine, exploring the clinical and ethical issues of staff in a frenetic London hospital, opening on 19th January; Enda Walsh's Penelope, a comic take on the story of the suitors competing for the favour of Odysseus's wife, from Homer's Odyssey, directed by Mikel Murfi, opening on 16th February, a co-production with Druid theatre company; and Ecstasy, written and directed by Mike Leigh, a dark comedy about the frustrations of four working class friends living in north London, opening on 15th March.

The BBC Proms has launched an online archive listing all the performances from the annual summer festival's 115 year history. Details of almost 7,200 concerts, from 1895 to the present, have been uploaded and are fully searchable. The database not only reveals information about the proms itself, but also about the history of classical music in the Britain over the period. It is an invaluable resource for music lovers, musicians, academics and anyone interested in classical music. The database can be accessed from the BBC Proms web site, which can be found in Festivals in the Links area of TheatreNet.

The Young Vic Theatre's 40th anniversary season will include the British premieres of the musical The Human Comedy, book and lyrics by William Dumaresq, music by Galt MacDermot, adapted from William Saroyan's tale of heroism in a small town in southern California during the Second World War, from 13th September, a co-production with The Opera Group; and Icelandic company Vesturport's 'acrobatic' production of Goethe's Faust, adapted and directed by Gisli Orn Gardarsson, the classic tale of a man selling his soul to the devil, opening on 1st October; Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie, the story of an overbearing mother and her son, who is torn between an obligation to his family and his desire to break away, in 1930s St Louis, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, opening on 17th November; the return of Vernon God Little, adapted by Tanya Ronder from the novel by DBC Pierre, directed by Rufus Norris, opening on 7th February; Monteverdi's The Return Of Ulysses, with Tom Randle and Pamela Helen Stephen, directed by Benedict Andrews, from 24th March, a co-production with English National Opera; and Jon Fosse's I Am The Wind, in a new version by Simon Stephens, 'a light, beautiful, poetic, ironic, charming, funny exploration of suicide by drowning', directed by Patrice Chereau, opening on 3rd May.

In addition to the previously mentioned a 25th anniversary touring production of the musical Les Miserables, the autumn BITE season at the Barbican will include Stephen Petronio's I Drink The Air Before Me, in which dancers react to the forces of nature; Barak Marshall's Monger, a dance piece exploring issues around migration and dignity; the Merce Cunningham Dance Company with the British premiere of Cunningham's final work, Nearly Ninety, which combines video and dance; Flyboy Is Alone Again This Christmas, a family show with shadow puppets, based on folk tales, performed by Matthew Robins and his band; and the return of Complicite's Shun-kin, a tale of devotion, passion and power, directed by Simon McBurney; and Gregory Burke's Black Watch, based on interviews with former soldiers of the Blackwatch regiment who served in Iraq, directed by John Tiffany.

The Society Of London Theatre has published the Box Office Data Report 2009, providing detailed analysis of attendance figures and box office returns in the West End, which includes the major commercial and grant aided theatres. Despite the continuing world economic crisis, overall attendances in 2009 were the highest on record at 14,257,922, 2.6% up on 2008, with the capacity sold at 72%, also the highest since records began, up 2% on the previous year, producing record breaking revenue of 504,765,690 - the first time the figure has exceeded 1/2m. As well as exploring the attendance statistics as a whole, the report also analyses the differences in number of performances, attendance and receipts between the subsidised and commercial sectors, and discusses audience trends in relation to categories of production. The Box Office Data Report is essential reading for theatre investors, producers, and theatre marketers, as well as those in academic and government sectors dealing with the performing arts. Further information can be found on the SOLT web site via the link opposite.

Forthcoming productions at the New End Theatre in Hampstead will include Gopi Warrier's God Sports, exploring dilemmas of the 21st century in regard to the idea of romantic love, the belief in the infallibility of science, and the influence of mystical philosophies, directed by Olivia Rowe, from 13th July; Biblical Tales, a bill of 4 short plays giving a contemporary twist to the stories of Adam and Eve, Samson and Delilah, David and Goliath, and Moses and Pharoah, written and directed by Steven Berkoff, opening on 3rd August; I'm A Woman, a cabaret in which Kate Dimbleby celebrates women at work, home and play, directed by Cal McCrystal, from 31st August; The Saloon Singer, a cabaret in which Holly Penfield combines her life story with a recreation of her screen heroines, from 5th October; playing alongside Ernesto Caballero's Pakita, with Patricia Rodriguez as a broken hearted woman who joins a lonely hearts group and shares her story - but whose tale is not as innocent as it first appears, directed by Roberto Corte, also from 5th October.