News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th August 2002

Stomp, the British percussion phenomenon, which employs everyday objects from dustbins to cigarette lighters as instruments, is coming to the West End for the first time, opening at the Vaudeville Theatre on 26th September. Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas created the show as street theatre in Brighton in 1991. Since then it has been continuously touring the world, and has now played to more than seven and a half million people in thirty one countries. There are currently three international touring companies, and the Off Broadway production at the Orpheum Theatre is in its ninth year.

It will be preceded at the Vaudeville by Ross Noble in his new show Sonic Waffle, the first Edinburgh Fringe transfer of the season, from 9th to 21st September.

The Theatre Royal Haymarket is holding another Masterclass season for young people who have an interest in theatre, or are keen to pursue a career in the arts. Events are open to people aged 16 and over, and are free of charge - but there is a refundable deposit required confirming the booking. The autumn series runs from 9th September to 2nd December, with sessions beginning at 2.30pm and lasting around two hours. It features the following masters of their arts: Peter Hall, Geraldine James, Simon Callow, Cicely Berry, Geoffry Colman, Samuel West, Jeremy Sams, Brian Cox, Prunella Scales and Mike Leigh. Further information and online booking can be found on the Theatre Royal Haymarket web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Wendy Craig and Tony Britton are to star in a regional tour of Somerset Maugham's The Circle, opening at the Malvern Theatre on 27th August. The comedy, which is set in the 1920s, concerns a prominent family and the double standards they must maintain to stay in the public eye. The cast is completed by William Buckhurst, Jeremy Child, Barbara Kirby, Knight Mantell Hattie Morahan and Dale Rapley. This production, which was originally staged by Oxford Stage Company and Salisbury Playhouse, is directed by Mark Rosenblatt, and presented by TEG Productions and the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford.

The Cats Kids Club is dead - long live the Miz Kids Club! One of the important initiatives to come from Cats during its record breaking run was the Saturday morning club for children aged between 8 and 15, which included a backstage tour, face painting, drama games and the opportunity to meet members of the cast. This has now been revived under the auspices of Les Miserables at the Palace Theatre, on the first and third Saturday of each month, starting on 7th September. Presumably instead of the face painting they will be dressing up in rags and berets. The club runs from 10.45am to 1.15pm, with tickets costing 10 inclusive of a packed lunch, or 23 with a ticket for the matinee. Further information and booking from the Cameron Mackintosh office on 020 7439 3062 or by email

Dulwich Picture Gallery is getting into showbiz, with a season of cabaret appearances by leading musical theatre performers, on Sundays at 5.30pm, from 18th August to 27th October. There will be two 'turns' appearing each week (some solos, some duos and some trios) including Nicola Hughes, Grania and Lizzie Renihan, Simon Green, Gay Soper Stefan Bednarczyk, Dillie Keane, Robert Meadmore, Maurice Clark and Rebecca Locke, and David Firth and Elizabeth Counsell.

On The Casting Couch: Michael Gambon and Daniel Craig will star in Caryl Chruchill's A Number at the Royal Court on 26th September.

The former home of the Players Theatre is to be relaunched as the Villiers Theatre under a new management, following an agreement signed this week. It will reopen as a membership club for the entertainment profession at the end of this year, with late night entertainment introduced from February. The Players was evicted from the premises in The Arches under Charing Cross station by its landlord in March, after a long running dispute over unpaid rent. The Players had been in existence for 65 years, most of which have been spent in theatres in The Arches, presenting Late Joys, a fortnightly Music Hall programme, together with a traditional Victorian pantomime. The new management is seeking start up investment of 1.5m to ensure it is properly capitalised. Three former members of the Players management will be non-executive directors of the new venture.

The autumn season at the Bridewell Theatre starts with a Gilbert and Sullivan fest courtesy of Opera della Luna, with the return of their production The Ghost Of Ruddigore, a gothic interpretation which puts the emphasis on gore; The Parson's Pirates a church hall 'course acting' visit to Penzance; and HMS Pinafore, all directed by Jeff Clarke. This is followed by a new Stephen Sondhenm compilation looking at men confronting the world, The Road You Didn't Take, devised and directed by Clive Paget. Finally, Red Shift presents The Love Child, adapted by Lavinia Murray from the novel by Edith Olivier, employing its trademark design and soundscape skills to tell a story delving into the power of the human imagination, madness and the supernatural.

Letters and theatrical memorabilia relating to Mrs Patrick Campbell, George Bernard Shaw and W B Yeats will be sold in a public auction at Dominic Winter Book Auctions in Swindon on 28th August. Viewing on the previous day and the morning of the sale. The company holds similar sales each month.

The next screen to stage transition from the Disney Organisation marks a new chapter in its history. Aladdin, with a music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, will be presented not on Broadway, but at its California Adventure theme park from 9th December. Chad Beguelin has written the book, based on Roger Allers and Ron Clements 1992 screenplay, and Francesca Zambello will direct. The show will be presented seven days a week, with two casts and crews. This is not seen as a tryout for later theatre presentation, but a completely separate theme parks project.Last Word On: The Royal Shakespeare Company's attempts at re-inventing itself - "What they need is actors who can cope with that theatre, not film actors. Last week Ian Richardson, Derek Jacobi, Janet Suzman and myself performed The Hollow Crown at the main house in Stratford, and we proved the point that there's nothing wrong with that theatre - the acoustics are marvellous. Mind you, we're old warhorses. If they want to get Nicole Kidman in, they're going to need a very small theatre." - Donald Sinden.