News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th March 2006

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, directed by Dominic Cooke, will transfer to the Gielgud Theatre, opening on 5th April. Miller used the story of the 17th century witchcraft trials Salem, Massachusetts to draw a parallel with Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee's crusade against supposed communist sympathisers. The company, led by Iain Glen and Elaine Cassidy, includes Ken Bradshaw, Ian Gelder, Darlene Johnson, James Laurenson, Caroline O'Neill, Trevor Peacock, Clifford Rose, Helen Schlesinger and James Staddon. The show will be presented by Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt.

The next season of productions at Trafalgar Studios 2 has been announced. Sylvester McCoy will star in the world premiere of Graeme Garden and Callum McLeod's The Pocket Orchestra - The Unlikely Lives Of The Great Composers, presenting the complete history of classical music told through the often bizarre lives of the great composers, from 26th April to 20th May, produced by the Ambassador Theatre Group and ScreenStage; Joy Wilkinson's Fair, which examines the racism brewing in Britain's northern towns, with Jonathan Jaynes, Rebecca Everett and Anthony Shuster, directed by Helen Eastman, from 23rd May to 17th June, produced by Floodtide; Rod Beacham's Lies Have Been Told: An Evening With Robert Maxwell, will return from 20th June to 15th July, with Philip York as the media mogul giving the 'true' account of his death, when he fell/jumped/was pushed from his yacht and drowned, directed by Alan Dosser, produced by Andy Jordan Productions and Dale Djerassi; a Jean Cocteau double bill Human Voice / Sound Of Silence, a one sided telephone conversation in which a woman on the verge of a breakdown tries to save what's left of a passionate love affair, and a monologue written for Edith Piaf directed towards a silent Gigolo who will occasionally be performed by a guest British film star, from 19th July to 12th August, produced by Edward Barreto; and Professor Bumm's Story Machine, an improvised children's comedy show by The Black Sheep, from 21st August to 2nd September.

The Off Broadway hit The Musical Of Musicals (The Musical!), with music by Eric Rockwell, lyrics by Joanne Bogart and book by Rockwell and Bogart, will receive its British premiere at the Sound Theatre off Leicester Square, from 31st March to 22nd April. The show presents the same story - a tenant who can't pay the rent, threatened by her evil landlord - adapted into a musical in five different genres, as written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander and Ebb. The London cast will comprise Joanna Ampil, Geoffrey Abbott, Susannah Fellows and Ian McLarnon, directed by Julian Woolford, with choreography by Steven Harris. The producers are NML Productions, Melanie Herman, the York Theatre Company and Martian Entertainment, in association with Louis Bluver.

The Arches Theatre Company in Glasgow is making the most of its location by staging Inferno, Andy Arnold's adaptation of Dante's story of a journey through the nine circles of hell, as a promenade performance through some of the 65,000 square feet of subterranean vaults, corridors and stairways that make up its home. A cast of over 50 is performing Dante's epic search for his lost love, through fire and brimstone, horror and torment, past the lustful, slothful, gluttonous, wrathful, avaricious, vengeful and strayed souls, until 24th March.

The Theatre Royal Haymarket's Masterclass season for young people who have an interest in theatre, or are keen to pursue a career in the arts, continues, featuring the following masters of their arts: 22nd March - director Stephen Pimlott, 29 March - drama school director and tutor Geoffrey Colman, 28th April - actress Anita Dobson and 12th May - actor Jeremy Irons. Sessions begin at 2.30pm and last around two hours. Events are open to people aged between 17 and 30 and mature students, and are free of charge - but there is a refundable deposit required confirming the booking. Those aged over 30 who would like to attend can now subscribe to a Friends scheme. Further information and online booking can be found on the Theatre Royal Haymarket web site via the link from the London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The spring season at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston will include the premiere of Peter Morris's Gaudeamus or A Very Liberal Education, a comedy set on an American university campus where bed hopping among students isn't just inevitable, but mandatory, with Chipo Chung, Kika Markham and Travis Oliver, directed by Michael Longhurst, opening on 21st March; Christine Harmer-Brown's 15 Minutes, a multi media piece about a documentary maker shooting a teenager attempting to go straight after release from prison, with Moira Brooker and Carly Hillman, directed by Paul Jepson, opening on 18th April; and premiere of Benjamin Davis's Silverland, 'a utopian vision of a dystopian future' set in a London on the brink of chaos in 2011, directed by Dylan Lowthian, opening on 16th May, a Lacuna Theatre Company production.

United Leisure Gaming has submitted a proposal to Westminster City Council for an 8m conversion of the London Hippodrome into a casino and cabaret venue, designed by Scott Brownrigg. The false ceiling and other alterations made to the Frank Matcham designed building since the 1950s would be removed, and the main original architectural features, such as the circle front and ceiling plasterwork, would be restored. The stalls and stage would provide the main gaming area, and a restaurant presenting cabaret and dinner theatre, and a piano bar, would be created within the building. So far no theatre operator has been prepared to invest the kind of money necessary to return the Hippodrome, built in 1900 as a circus and variety house, to full theatrical use.

The London Bubble Theatre Company, which performs outdoor promenade production in parks, woods and open spaces around London, has come indoors for the winter. It will be performing My Home, a piece of verbatim theatre that tells the true stories of people who have travelled from Poland, Somalia, Kurdistan and Vietnam to make London their home, using their own words, in houses and flats in Camberwell, Purley, Sidcup and Bow, between 13th March and 13th April. Further information and can be found on the LBTC web site via the link from the Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Stage One and the Society Of London Theatre, in association with Arts Council England, are inviting further applications for a New Producer's Bursary. The bursaries are intended to support individuals in progressing their careers as theatre producers. Successful applicants will be able to use the bursary to develop and/or present a new production. In addition to a broad package of financial assistance of up to 15,000 per applicant, the scheme also provides the benefit of an established industry figure as a mentor for the project, and possibly shared office accommodation in Central London. For further information and an application form, send an A4 SAE to: New Producer's Bursary, Stage One, 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET. The closing date for this round of applications is 19th April.