News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 9th November 2001

The touring production of Return To The Forbidden Planet is to return to the West End at the Savoy Theatre from 11th December to 26th January. Subtitled 'Shakespeare's forgotten rock 'n' roll masterpiece', the show takes the premise of the 1957 sci-fi film, which relocated the plot of The Tempest in outer space, and pumps it full of period rock classics. Its tackiness is its charm. The cast includes Adrian Cobey, James Earl Adair, Sarah Beaumont and Frederick Ruth, and the show was written and directed by Bob Carlton. It is presented in the West End by Bill Kenwright.

The renaissance of Peter Nichols continues. The current production of his play A Day In The Death Of Joe Egg, which ends its run at the New Ambassadors Theatre on 24th November, will transfer to the Comedy Theatre for a further eight weeks from 11th December. Eddie Izzard will replace Clive Owen, but Victoria Hamilton, Prunella Scales and the rest of the cast will remain. Laurence Boswell directed. The original London production played at the Comedy in 1967.

Nicholas Hawkesmoor's Christ Church once again hosts the Spitalfields Winter Festival from 13th to 21st December. Presented by candlelight in one of London's most striking buildings, the music ranges from the early - the European Union Baroque Orchestra with Fux, Vejvanovsky and Scheidt, through five centuries of the devotional - choral works from Trinity College Cambridge and City Chamber Choirs, to the modern - English Voices with an all Britten programme. There are opportunities for audiences to join in with the City Chamber Choir at the Allcomers workshop led by Laka D. All this, plus bell ringing, free events, walks, talks and exhibitions about the Spitalfields area and the restoration of Christ Church, one of the great baroque churches of Europe. Further information can be found on the Spitalfields Festival web site via the link form the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Louis de Bernieres Captain Corelli's Mandolin is to play a three week season at the Pleasance London from 11th December. Accompanied by Alison Stephens on mandolin and Anne Evans on piano, Mike Maran brings the epic love story to the stage with two chickens, two aubergines, three puppets, a tuba, a motorbike, some old photographs, a walking stick and a goat. Ah, the magic of live theatre.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the National Theatre production of Charlotte Jones Humble Boy will transfer to the Gielgud Theatre on 24th January. Felicity Kendal joins the existing cast of Simon Russell Beale (as a Cambridge astro-physicist in search of a unified field theory) Cathryn Bradshaw, William Gaunt, Denis Quilley and Marcia Warren. John Caird directed.

A stage adaptation of the 1936 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Swing Time, retitled Never Gonna Dance will be workshopped in New York from 29th November to 1st December, with a view to Broadway production next season. It boasts a score by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Dorothy Fields, Ira Gershwin, Otto Harbach, Johnny Mercer, Oscar Hammerstein and P.G. Wodehouse. Jeffrey Hatcher has written the book and will direct.

The Watermill Theatre Newbury has won this year's Empty Space Peter Brook Award for its support of new writers and directors. Among its recent productions were The Clandestine Marriage, which was staged partly in the theatre and partly in its gardens; Rose Rage, an abridged version of Shakespeare's Wars Of The Roses plays set in an abattoir; and a contemporary jazz version of The Gondoliers, with the actors doubling as their own band, which transferred to the West End. A new Up and Coming Theatre category was won by Shakespeare@The Tobacco Factory, for inventive staging in an unusual space with its productions of Shakespeare with no sets in an abandoned factory in Bristol.

The English Touring Theatre production of Peter Gill's new play The York Realist will run at the Royal Court Theatre from 6th January to 9th February. Set in York in the early 1960s, it centres on the relationship and culture clash between a middle class outsider directing the Mystery Plays, and a local working class amateur performer. Gill directs a company comprising Richard Coyle, Lloyd Owen, Felix Bell, Ian Mercer, Wendy Nottingham, Caroline O'Neill and Anne Reid.

The Little Angel Marionette Theatre in Islington (a stone's throw from the King's Head), which stages its uniquely entertaining shows every weekend throughout the year and during the week in school holidays, is gearing up for the Christmas season. The main show will be the return of its production of The Sleeping Beauty, dramatised by Gregory Motton and directed by Christopher Leith. It features John Wright's original marionettes, and an adaptation of Tchaikovsky's ballet music played live on the spinet. There will also be performances of The Selkie Bride, based on a Celtic myth about mysterious sea creatures, devised by Karen Torley and Howard Gayton, who also directs. Further information can be found on the Little Angel web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Louise Gold and Desmond Barrit star in this year's Lost Musical, Dubarry Was A Lady, which will play at Her Majesty's Theatre on 18th and 25th November. The 1939 show, with book by Herbert Fields and B.G. Desylva, and music and lyrics by Cole Porter, will be presented with the original Broadway orchestrations. It tells the story of a nightclub toilet cleaner who passes out and wakes up in the court of Louis XV of France. Suddenly you can see the need for Oklahoma!

And Finally . . . As if Boy George writing Taboo, a show about his rise to fame, wasn't bad enough, the group Westlife are doing the same thing - and they intend to appear in theirs. What has the theatre done to deserve this? Surely with the execrable Boyband we have already suffered enough.