News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th October 1998

Keith Waterhouse's new play Good Grief, directed by Ned Sherrin, which is currently touring, will open at the Lyric Theatre in the second week of November. Adapted from his last novel, the premise is a comic look at mourning, with Penelope Keith as a newspaper editor's widow, having difficulty expressing what other people perceive as a proper sense of bereavement. It also features Sarah Berger, David Firth and Christopher Godwin. The producers are Pericles Developments and I'm Not Ltd.

Song Of Singapore, the biggest hit of the Chichester Festival season, returns to the Minerva for a further run from 30th October to 28th November, and is already selling out. The Off Broadway spoof 40's musical, set in a night-club at the fall of Singapore to the Japanese, features a dazzling all singing, all dancing, all instrument playing cast of Ben Albu, Richard Brightiff, Beatrice Grace, Elio Pace, Martin Roach, Miles Russell, David Shaw-Parker, Simon Slater, Issy Van Randwyck, and James Wilson, directed by Roger Redfarn. A London transfer should beckon if the right venue could be found - possibly the Whitehall?

The latest Disney stage project, Elaborate Lives: The Legend Of Aida written by Tim Rice and Elton John, received a rave reception at its try out in Atlanta, and is set for Broadway next spring. It features Heather Headley, Hank Stratton and Sherie Scott. This is a further development for Disney's theatre division, aimed at a more mature and sophisticated audience, and staged on a less extravagant scale than their current shows.

Also in New York, Roger Daltry is to star as Scrooge in the spectacular production of A Christmas Carol, at Madison Square Gardens from 27th November to 27th December. Roddy McDowall made his last stage appearance in the role last year. A regular part of the city's Christmas scene since 1994, the show is directed by Mike Ockrent and choreographed by Susan Stroman. It aims to rival the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show in scale, by turning the lobby into a Victorian market place, with carolers and street performers, and features the biggest theatrical set in the history of New York theatre, and the world's largest indoor snowfall.

Joining the current accountability/accessibility mania, the Royal Shakespeare Company is staging a "meet the people" offensive in November. A free Post Show Talkback will be held in the Barbican Pit, after the matinee of Troilus And Cressida on 14th, when the cast will take part in a discussion with the audience. There will also be two RSC Backstage...Upfront lunchtime events, when the cast and production teams reveal the secrets of rehearsal and backstage work. These will be Troilus And Cressida on 18th and The School For Scandal on 19th in the Barbican Theatre from 12noon-1.00pm, admission 4.50.

The stage adaptation of Rob Long's best-selling book Conversations With My Agent, an Edinburgh Fringe success, is at the Pleasance London until 25th October. The writer and producer of Cheers gives the insider's guide to life in Hollywood, where truth is always stranger than fiction. It features Gary Parker as the writer, Lolly Susi as the agent, and Christian Malcolm as everyone else. Gordon Anderson directs.

A musical by Catherine Johnson, "inspired" by the songs of ABBA has posted an opening date of 6th April next year at the Prince Edward Theatre. Mama Mia! weaves 28 numbers into a story about a mother and her daughter who is about to be married (with the honeymoon presumably starting on the Eurostar from Waterloo). Siobhan McCarthy, who was previously in ABBA/Tim Rice's Chess plays the mother. It will be directed by Phyllida Law and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. The producer is Little Star Productions. Let's hope West Side Story is a sellout.

Former Council for Dance Education and Training director Victoria Todd has been appointed as the new director of the National Campaign for the Arts, at an important point in its development. Some people felt that with a Labour government elected, the organisation no longer had a purpose. It now appears that the arts are under a greater threat than ever before. Find out more about the NCA from their web site via the link from our Organisations section.

The Harlem Gospel Singers, seen at the Hackney Empire in March, return with a new show, blending spiritual, rhythm and blues and other styles, at the Peacock Theatre from 3rd to 28th November. They are presented by BB Promotions and Glynis Henderson.

The Rumour Machine says: that Alan Ayckbourn will test even his powers of invention with his next play, since it will use both auditoria at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough - part of the performance will be in The Round and part in The McCarthy - presumably if it transfers to London, it will have to be to the National; that The Lion King is set to break through the current West End top price barrier to 37.50 (having already upped the Broadway limit); and that the spate of wacky publicity campaigns (cf Cedric the reluctant asp) has sunk to new depths, with Paul Rhys being insured against going barmy while playing Hamlet at the Young Vic - you wouldn't think it was an insurable risk, since he admits to going a bit doulalley playing Edgar in King Lear, and after all, the mere fact that he's an actor means he can't be entirely sane. The Rumour Machine grinds on.