News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th May 2002

There is a record number of 20 nominations for British talent in this year's Tony Awards line up. They include Best Director: Howard Davies - Private Lives, Richard Eyre - The Crucible and Trevor Nunn - Oklahoma!; Best Actor: Alan Bates Fortune's Fool, Liam Neeson - The Crucible and Alan Rickman - Private Lives; Best Actress: Kate Burton - Hedda Gabler, Lindsay Duncan - Private Lives and Helen Mirren - Dance Of Death; and Best Revival (Play): The Crucible, Noises Off and Private Lives. The recently opened musical Thoroughly Modern Millie tops the list of productions with 11 nominations. The full list of nominees and further information can be found on the Tony Awards web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet. The winners will be announced at the 56th Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall on 2nd June.

When Cats, the world's longest running musical, bows out with the 18,949th performance on its 21st birthday on Saturday 11th May, it will set another record as the only West End production to have had a free live relay on a giant screen in Covent Garden Piazza, a la Royal Opera House. Festivities will start at 3.00pm, with competitions, cast appearances, on screen interviews with the show's creators, face painting and other children's activities. The relay will begin at 8.30pm, and the performance will conclude with 150 previous cast members joining the current company in a specially staged mass finale. The Broadway production had clocked up 18 years by the time it closed in September 2000. Worldwide, the show has taken over $2.5 billion, been performed in 11 different languages, in over 300 cities in 26 countries, and been seen by over 50 million people.

125th Street, the previously mentioned musical show set in Harlem's famous Apollo Theatre, which celebrates the music of the black groups of the '60s, will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre at the beginning of September.

The 10th Opera Holland Park season runs from 11th June to 10th August, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as resident orchestra. It comprises the first Holland Park production of Bizet's Les pecheurs de perles directed by Vernon Mound; the double bill Puccini's Suor Angelica directed by Matt Lane and Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci directed by Jamie Hayes; the first Holland Park production of Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur directed by Tom Hawkes; Puccini's La Rondine directed by Nik Ashton; and Mozart's Don Giovanni directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans. Further information online booking can be found on the OHP web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

>London looks set to reach ABBA saturation point with the arrival of the tribute show Abbamania at the Strand Theatre on 6th June. The show, which is a straightforward concert format featuring the songs of the Swedish phenomenon, has been touring Britain for four years. It is presented in the West End by Paul Elliott and Laurie Mansfield, producers of Buddy which played at the same venue.

Christopher Eccleston is to make his Shakespearian stage debut as Hamlet at the West Yorkshire Playhouse Leeds from 25th October to 30th November. There is no other casting information at present. Ian Brown will direct the production.

The nine new Regional Arts Boards are looking for new members for their councils following the organisational shake up of regional arts funding. Candidates must be knowledgeable about the arts, and are likely to be practising artists, arts managers, media experts and individuals from the commercial and business sectors. The deadline for applications is 17th May. Further information can be found on the English Regional Arts Boards web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

The Right Size's comedy The Play What I Wrote, which has just completed its West End a run, will return to Wyndham's Theatre for a further two month season from 30th October. It is then likely to head to Broadway, although what New Yorker's will make of Hamish McColl and Sean Foley's show 'inspired' by Morecambe and Wise goodness only knows. It is directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by David Pugh.

The Theatre Investment Fund and the Society Of London Theatre, in association with the Arts Council of England, is 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. For further information and an application form, send an A4 SAE to: New Producer's Bursary, Theatre Investment Fund, 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET. The closing date for this round of applications is 28th May.

The Rumour Machine says: that Stephen Daldry will return to the Royal Court to direct A Number, a new play about human cloning by Caryl Churchill in September; that Jerry Hall will star in Benchmark a new play by Michael Rudman and Bud Shrake, directed by Rudman, in September; and that a Broadway bound revival of the Jerry Herman musical La Cage Aux Folles will open in London next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.

And Finally . . . Moving up the ranks of West End's Most Travelled Production, Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues is boomeranging back to the Arts Theatre on 22nd June. Casting is unknown, but in the light of the previous exhaustive list of combinations, Thora Hird, Lilly Savage and Jordan must be strong contenders. Meanwhile, retaining its position at the top of the list, Fame aims move on again when its run at the Cambridge Theatre ends on 31st August.