Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Booking has opened for The Society Of London Theatre's 10th Get Into London Theatre initiative, designed to encourage new and young theatregoers to experience the wealth of theatrical fare to be found all over London. Discounted tickets are available for some 50 shows, including opera, ballet and dance, in venues encompassing West End, fringe and suburban theatres. Tickets cost from £10 to £35 (according to the venue) for selected performances from 1st January to 18th February. In addition, there are accompanying events, including backstage tours, workshops and classes. Restaurants are taking part with accompanying deals, and there are also hotels offering special mini-breaks. Further information is available on the SOLT web site, via the link opposite below.
On The Casting Couch: Juliet Stevenson, James Fleet, Lydia Wilson, Leah Whittaker and Adrian Hood will form the cast of Richard Bean's The Heretic, opening at the Royal Court Theatre on 10th February.
The Arcola Theatre in Dalston will reopen at its new location at the Colourworks in Ashwin Street with the premiere of Rebecca Lenkiewicz's The Painter, a biographical play about JMW Turner, England's greatest landscape artist and watercolourist, with Toby Jones, Niamh Cusack, Amanda Boxer, Jim Bywater, Denise Gough and Ian Midlane, directed by Mehmet Ergen, on 14th January.
New York TheatreNet: John Guare's The House Of Blue Leaves, a dark comedy about a disperate group of dreamers in Sunnyside, Queens, New York on a day in the 1960s, with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Stiller and Edie Falco, directed by David Cromer, will open on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre on 25th April. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway, can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.
The government has announced plans for an £80m matching funding scheme to encourage philanthropy in the arts, as part of a 10 point action plan designed to boost philanthropy in Britain. The money, which will comprise £50m from the National Lottery by Arts Council England and £30m from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, will fund initiatives catering to 3 tiers of organisations. Smaller organisations will be supported to develop their fundraising capacities and to identify potential donors, larger regional organisations will be offered resources to incentivise donors to be more generous, and the country's most established organisations will be encouraged to set up endowment funds.
Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years, a two handed song cycle about a relationship, told from beginning to end by the man, and from end to beginning by the woman, with Lauren Samuels and Christopher Pym, directed by Drew Baker, will open at the Tabard Theatre in Turnham Green on 11th February. The producers are Tony Green and Dayle James Productions.
The spring season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds will include in the Courtyard Theatre: Federico García Lorca's Yerma, in new version by Ursula Rani Sarma, about a woman desperate for a child battling with sexual temptation and the lure of a sorceress, directed by Roisin McBrinn, opening on 12th March; and in the Quarry Theatre: Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea, the story of a woman who has abandoned her husband and life of affluence, for a thoughtless and penniless ex-RAF fighter pilot, who cannot match her blind passion, directed by Sarah Esdaile, opening on 26th February; John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's A Whore, the Jacobean tragedy telling the tale of a brother and sister consumed by incestuous passion, directed by Jonathan Munby, opening on 14th May; and the musical The Wiz, book by William F Brown, music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls, which relocates the story of The Wizard Of Oz to a 1970s black urban environment, directed by Josette Bushell-Mingo, with choreography by Paul J Medford, opening on 25th June, a co-production with Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
Alfred Chalon At The Opera an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery until 13th February, comprises a selection of portraits of leading opera singers by the fashionable 19th century artist. Alfred Chalon specialised in small and exquisite watercolour portraits, and was renowned for his ability to depict the contrasting textures of silk, fur and velvet. In 1837 he was appointed as Queen Victoria's official painter in watercolour, and a detail of his portrait of the Queen featured on British colonial postage stamps from 1851. Chalon was fascinated by the theatre, opera and ballet, and this display features portraits and caricatures of actors, singers and dancers. It also includes prints reproduced from Chalon's portraits by leading lithographers. Often depicting his sitters in character, these portraits offer a fascinating insight into the popular operas and theatrical costume of the early 19th century.
The Arts Theatre off Charing Cross Road, will reopen on 18th January with the Edinburgh Fringe hit Woody Sez, based on the words, music and spirit of the folk singer Woody Guthrie, written and performed by David Lutkin, with Darcie Deauville, Helen J Russell and Andy Teirstein, directed by Nick Corley. The producers are Mary Cossette Productions and Hartshorn-Hook Productions.
Ho! Ho! Ho! Dept A reminder that this is the peak season for the purchase of Theatre Tokens. Available in units of £5, £10 and £20, they can be exchanged for tickets at over 240 venues nationwide, including all West End theatres. As they have no expiry date, the recipient can choose which show they want to see, and when and where they want to see it. The Tokens are delivered in a presentation pack, or gift packs, with a CD or book, and can be sent direct to the recipient. Greeting cards for all occasions are also available. Tokens are available from most theatres, major bookshops and ticket agencies, and the tkts Ticket Booths in Leicester Square and Brent Cross. Alternatively they can be bought direct from the 24/7 Tokenline on 0844 887 7878 or online from the Theatre Tokens web site via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of TheatreNet. As they say, don't just give an object this Christmas - give an emotional experience.
The Rumour Machine says: that writer/director Mike Leigh will stage a new play in the Cottesloe at the National Theatre in the autumn of next year, with a cast that will include Lesley Manville; and that the New York production of [title of show], the musical that tells of the trials and tribulations of two struggling writers creating a show for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, featuring the writers, Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, together with Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff, directed by Michael Berresse, may be London bound next year, courtesy of Very Clever Theatre Limited. The Rumour Machine grinds on.