News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th September 2010

The National Theatre has confirmed that Alan Ayckbourn's Season's Greetings, which follows a group of characters over the family Christmas celebration from hell, with Oliver Chris, Mark Gatiss, Katherine Parkinson, Jenna Russell, Neil Stuke, Catherine Tate, David Troughton, Nicola Walker and Mark Wootton, directed by Marianne Elliott, will open on 8th December.

The 17th London Open House, the annual scheme to allow the public into architecturally interesting but usually private buildings across the capital, takes place on 18th and 19th September. Over 700 locations will include old favourites of theatrical interest such as the Almeida, Hackney Empire, Lyric Hammersmith, Hoxton Hall, National, Richmond, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Young Vic theatres, the Cadogan, King's Place, Royal Festival and Wigmore concert halls, BBC Bush House, Channel 4 building and Alexandra Palace TV studio, LAMDA and RADA, Granada Tooting, Phoenix, Finchley and Muswell Hill Odeon cinemas, and Sands Film Studio & Rotherhythe Picture Research Library. They will be joined this year by amongst others, Churchill, Bromley, Queen's Hornchurch and Rose theatres, BBC Television Centre, Academy Brixton, and BFI Imax and Gaumont Palace, Wood Green cinemas. There will also be talks, conducted walks and other accompanying special events taking place at various locations over the course of the weekend. Entrance is free, but because of limited access, a few of the buildings require prebooking. Further information can be found on the London Open House web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Former artists of La Clique, the mixture of cabaret, new burlesque, circus sideshow and contemporary variety, have created an new show, La Soiree, which will be staged in Magic Mirrors, a Victorian Spiegeltent located in Upper Ground, behind the National Theatre on the South Bank, from 12th October to 30th January. It will be presented by Brett Haylock, Mark Rubinstein and Mick Perrin for Just for Laughs Live.

Meanwhile, another La Clique alumnus, magician Carl-Einar Hackner will perform his show Big In Sweden, combining magic with slapstick comedy, music and illusion, at The Roundhouse at Chalk Farm, from 2nd to 22nd December.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group is in discussions about selling its Cambridge, Her Majesty's, New London and Palace theatres to a consortium led by Michael Grade and theatrical agent Michael Linnit, for a price of around 50m. This would leave RUG with the London Palladium and Theatre Royal Drury Lane, as well as a 50% stake in the Adelphi Theatre, which is co-owned with the American company Nederlander. RUG sold the Lyric, Garrick, Apollo and Duchess theatres to Nimax in 2005 for 11.5m, and its ticketing business See Tickets for an undisclosed sum in 2008 to a subsidiary of Stage Entertainment.

Stop Dreamin', a new musical comedy about a family, featuring the songs of Chas & Dave (Charles Hodges and David Peacock), written and directed by Ray Cooney, with Cliff Parisi, Trevor Bannister, Vicki Michelle, Louise Jameson, Royce Mills and Daisy Wood-Davis, will play prospective pre West End dates at the Theatre Royal in Windsor from 13th October, and Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford from 27th October.

Raymond Gubbay's arena production of Puccini's Madam Butterfly, in a translation by Amanda Holden, set in a Japanese water garden, directed by David Freeman, will return to the Royal Albert Hall from 24th February to 12th March.

Edinburgh International Festival Report: Box office receipts reached a record breaking 2.67m, 3% up on 2009, on ticket sales of 135,793, up 1% on last year, with one third of all events selling out, reaching an average of 80% capacity. Almost half of the ticket purchasers were Edinburgh locals, while the international audience came from 73 different countries. Of the 2,300 performers, 700 came from Scotland.

Forthcoming productions at the Riverside Studio in Hammersmith will include Peter Gill's The Sleepers' Den, depicting women from 3 generations of a family living in squalid surroundings and totally incapable of fending for themselves, from 28th September, and Over Gardens Out, charting the relationship between two young boys who are potentially bright but hampered by their family backgrounds, from 19th October, both directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher, and produced by Good Night Out Presents; and the return of Salad Days the 1950s musical in which a young couple find a magic piano, book and lyrics by Dorothy Reynolds and Julian Slade, music by Julian Slade, directed by Bill Bankes-Jones, with choreography by Quinny Sacks, opening on 10th December, a Tete a Tete production.

Lou Ramsden's Breed, about a contemporary dysfunctional working class family, with Jessie Cave, John Michie, Deirdre O'Kane, Tom Reed and Paul Stocker, directed by Tim Roseman, will play at Theatre503 in Battersea, from 21st September.

Buxton Opera House will open the adjoining Pavilion Arts Centre, comprising a 360 seater auditorium and a studio theatre, on 24th September, following a 2.5m redevelopment project of the Victorian building, which included the restoration of the Art Deco foyer. It will enable the Frank Matcham designed Opera House to present a wider range of drama, comedy and live music events not suitable for its 902 seater auditorium. The Pavilion will also provide new venues for the annual Buxton Festival and the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival.

The Rumour Machine says: that the current Royal Court Theatre production of Bruce Norris's black comedy Clybourne Park, charting how change overtakes a neighborhood, along with attitudes, inhabitants and property values, between 1958 and 2008, with Martin Freeman and Sophie Thompson, is looking for a West End transfer; that the current Broadway jukebox musical Million Dollar Quartet, set on the night in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis came together at Sun Records in Memphis, will be London bound next year; and that Betty Blue Eyes, the Ron Cowen-Dan Lipman-George Stiles-Anthony Drewe musical adaptation of Alan Bennett's film A Private Function, set in a post Second World War Yorkshire village, possibly featuring Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith, directed by Richard Eyre, will bypass its announced regional date at West Yorkshire Playhouse in April, and open cold in the West End. The Rumour Machine grinds on.