News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 10th November 2000

Dr Livingstone… I Presume? is a new musical which is a unique collaboration of contemporary British musical theatre talent, and traditional African dance and ritual, as performed by the National Dance Theatre of Malawi & Tanzania. The premiere season runs at Riverside Studios from 16th November to 2nd December. It tells the story of the legendary Scottish explorer as he charts the Zambezi River, and walks 40,000 miles across Africa attempting to discover the source of the Nile. The book is by Paul Leigh and Toby Gough (who also directs), music by James McConnel, and lyrics by Paul Leigh. It is presented by The Holders Season Barbados.

Donmar Warehouse has announced its spring season, which includes: the UK premiere of David Mamet's Boston Marriage, set at the turn of the last century, and examining the ambiguous friendship between two women who live together - a distinct change of gear from his more familiar all male contemporary dramas - possibly to be directed by Phyllida Lloyd; and Tales From Hollywood by Christopher Hampton, about German artists living in exile in Los Angeles during the Second World War, directed by John Crowley. The summer will feature productions directed by Roger Michell and John Madden, and next Christmas will see Peter Nichols and Denis King's musical Privates On Parade, directed by Michael Grandage. The season will no longer include Patrick Marber's as yet untitled new play, which will now premiere at the National (where his previous plays started) in June.

Kenny Miller has adapted, directed and designed a 70 minute distillation for the stage of Ludovic Kennedy's Ten Rillington Place, which is currently playing at Glasgow Citizens. The book revealed the truth behind Timothy Evans wrongful execution for the series of murders committed by John Christie at the infamous address, and played a significant part in the abolition of the death penalty in Britain. It stars Rupert Farley, Joanna Tope, Stephen Scott and Patti Clare.

Polka Theatre's Christmas season will comprise Beauty And The Beast by Nigel Forde, directed by Roman Stefanski, running from 23rd November to 10th February, and Puff The Magic Dragon by Mike Kenny, directed by Vicky Ireland from 5th December to 10th February. It will be followed by The Amazing Birthday by Malorie Blackman, commissioned to celebrate the company's 21st birthday, which plays from 15th February to 31st March. Further information on the shows and other events can be found on the Polka Theatre web site via the link from the UK London Theatres section of TheatreNet.

As with Cats before it, the final demise of Miss Saigon on Broadway is being postponed. Having recently celebrated its 4,000th performance, the show has been extended into the new year, and will now close on 28th January. Lea Salonga will return to the title role for the last four weeks (if it is the last four weeks).

The ubiquitous (and award winning) Bryony Lavery has a new play A Wedding Story premiering at Birmingham Repertory Theatre until 25th November. It is a dark comedy that tells the familiar story of love, life, death, and sex, which makes up the average wedding ceremony and reception. Annie Castledine directs a co-production with Sphinx Theatre Company which tours following the Birmingham run.

Leeds based RJC Dance Productions brings club culture to the stage with their new urban dance theatre piece Krazy Spirit. Eight dancers and the live band Stone Roots combine club, reggae, jazz and African beats with a variety of different dance styles. Together they tell the story of the travels and experiences of the fictitious Beat Time, as he encounters a variety of characters in his search for the rhythms of his own life. Natasha Betteridge directs. The show is currently touring nationally, including dates at the Peacock Theatre on 7th and 8th December.

Things Indian seem to be the theme for next year. Composer Philip Henderson and film director Shekhar Kapur are working on a musical adaptation of M M Kaye's weighty tome The Far Pavilions with the West End as their aim. Set during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, it tells of a love affair between a British officer and an Indian princess. The show will be produced by Michael Ward. Meanwhile Meera Syal, A R Rehman and Don Black continue work on Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bombay Dreams project. Even the Royal Opera is planning a Bollywood style version of Puccini's Turandot with Indian music. Finally, Tate Modern's first major exhibition will feature a Bombay installation in its turbine hall, that will include a 15ft high pandal (temporary Indian marquee) showing excerpts from Bollywood musicals.

Nine thespians will be inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Gershwin Theatre in New York on 29th January. They include actors June Havock, Nancy Marchand, Liza Minnelli and Al Pacino and playwright Athol Fugard. To be eligible for induction, a theatre professional must have a career that spans twenty five years, with at least five major stage credits. Membership is marked by a plaque located in the lobby of the theatre at the top of the main staircase.

Contrary to earlier reports, the London Stage Company will not be programming the Bridewell Theatre, but is simply a tenant presenting the premiere of Bridges And Harmonies, a new comedy by Oren Lavie about a painter, his lodger, a pianist and his wife which opened this week. The Bridwell itself is presenting Hot Ice, a cabaret of songs and sketches devised and directed by Clive Paget, with Maurice Clarke, Catherine Porter and Sophia Wylie on Mondays from 13th November. High Spirits, the musical by Hugh Martin and Timothy Gray based on Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, runs from 9th January to 3rd February. Raymond Wright directs a Ballantrae Theatre Productions presentation. This will be followed by a contemporary opera season presented by the Bridewell.

The joint Denver Center For The Performing Arts/Royal Shakespeare Company production of John Barton's 12 hour Greek mythology epic Tantalus will embark on a five date UK regional tour at The Lowry Salford on 27th January. It will then open the Barbican's BITE:01 season on 2nd May. Peter Hall has masterminded the project, with his son Edward Hall and Mick Gordon also directing. The production process has seen a falling out between RSC veteran collaborators Hall and Barton over cuts in the piece on which Barton has been working for 20 years. The cycle, which draws on Greek myths but is not an adaptation of extant texts, follows the plight of Tantalus and his descendants who were involved in the Trojan War.

The Rumour Machine says: that Cameron Mackintosh will bring the National Theatre production of My Fair Lady to Drury Lane when The Witches Of Eastwick departs for the Prince Of Wales - possibly even missing out the South Bank altogether. After this debacle Mackintosh says he will no longer produce new work, but will in future stick to revivals. The alternative theory is that Andrew Lloyd Webber (who now owns Drury Lane) will stage the recent Broadway production of The Sound Of Music there. The Rumour Machine grinds on.