News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th January 2002

David Warner is to appear on the London stage after an absence of thirty years, in the European premiere of The Feast Of Snails, by Icelandic novelist Olaf Olafsson, at the Lyric Theatre on 18th February. This follows Warner's return to the theatre work last year in New York, having overcome a twenty five year battle with stage fright. He is joined by Philip Glenister, Sorcha Cusack and Siwan Morris, in a story which bears some resemblance to Anthony Shaffer's Sleuth. A business tycoon is preparing for a solitary gourmet feast at home when the arrival of a stranger provokes a battle of wits during which dark secrets are revealed. The play is directed by Ron Daniels, and produced by Frederick Zollo, Nick Paleologos, Jeff Sine and Dennis Alter.

As Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express finally hits the buffers at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, the world premiere of his Bollywood musical project Bombay Dreams at the same venue, has been set for 19th June. Conceived by Lloyd Webber and film director Shekhar Kapur, the music is by young Indian composer A R Rahman, book by Meera Syal, and lyrics by Don Black. Unknown British actress Preeya Kalidas will play the daughter of a Bollywood film director who falls for a boy from the wrong side of the tracks who has come to Bombay to fulfil his dream of a life in the movies. The show will be directed by Steven Pimlott and choreographed by Anthony van Laast. Kapur is associate producer with Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Theatre Company.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, running this year from 4th to 26th August, has launched its annual nation wide programme of seminars to give would be producers an idea of what is involved. January dates and locations are: 18th Leeds, 19th Birmingham and Liverpool, 20th Newcastle, 25th Oxford, 26th Bath and Nottingham, and 27th London. Further information and contact details to request a registration form can be found on the Fringe web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Gagarin Way, currently paying a second visit to the National Theatre following a much publicised debut at the Traverse Theatre during last year's Edinburgh Festival, is to transfer to the Arts Theatre at the end of February. Gregory Burke's first play, a contemporary tale of urban violence in a kidnapping which goes wrong, stars Billy McElhaney, Michael Moreland, Michael Nardone and Maurice Roeves, and is directed by John Tiffany. It is presented by Ted Tulchin, Sonia Friedman Productions and Kevin Wallace.

As a result, Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues will return to its original West End home of the New Ambassadors Theatre on 26th February. It will be preceded at the New Ambassadors from 28th January by another airing for Linda Marlowe's Berkoff's Women. The hit from the 1999 Edinburgh Fringe, presenting characters from Steven Berkoff's plays, is directed by Josie Lawrence, and produced by Rachel Daniels. Marc Salem's Off Broadway show Mind Games, an entertainment in which he employs psychological techniques, visual information and behavioural psychology, which he performed recently at Hampstead Theatre, will also be coming to the New Ambassadors.

This year's Laurence Olivier Awards will include a new category, The Audience Award For Most Popular Show, which will give theatre audiences world wide the chance to vote online for their favourite long running West End show. Nominations for all the awards will be announced on 17th January, when voting will commence, and the presentations will be on 15th February at the Victoria Palace Theatre. Information, voting and tickets for the event can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite.

The West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Canadian playwright Janet Munsil's Smoking With Lulu will play a London season at the Soho Theatre from 15th February to 30th March. It is a fictional account of the actual meeting in 1978 of British theatre critic Kenneth Tynan and silent movie star Louise Brooks, whose portrayal of Lulu in the 1928 film Pandora's Box was legendary. Thelma Barlow, Peter Eyre and Sophie Millet repeat their WYP performances, directed by David Giles. The play is presented by Michael White and Soho Theatre Company in association with Richard Jordan.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Richard Briers and June Whitfield will star in Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce, opening on 8th April at the Aldwych Theatre. It is the story of three married couples, at different stages in their relationships, whose lives intersect over the course of an evening - with self-assembly furniture as an added complication. The play will be directed by the ubiquitous Loveday Ingram, and produced by Michael Codron.

Michael Attenborough is the surprise choice to succeed Jonathan Kent and Ian McDiarmid as artistic director of the Almeida Theatre. It is a remarkably safe decision, given his solid track record at Hampstead Theatre, Palace Theatre Watford, and 11 years as executive producer and principal associate director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. A younger and more radical figure was expected to be hired by this obsessively cutting edge company. Attenborough will oversee the organisation's return to its Islington home next winter following a 4m refurbishment.

The Place is presenting its biggest ever Resolution! season of new dance ideas and fledgling choreographic talent running until 16th February. 102 companies from this country and abroad have an opportunity to show their work, with three different programmes each night. It's a chance to spot the stars of tomorrow, with pieces including a duet for woman and telephone; a dance version of Samuel Beckett's Play; and a work starring five goldfish (you have to be there). Details can be found on The Place web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The Precise Moment company's production of Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, featuring Johnny Lindo and Arthur Caulfield, is at the Riverside Studios until 2nd February. PM, under the direction of Joss Bennathan, is known for its contemporary twists on classic texts, and relocates the action from Jacobean London to the more recent period when the City was turning base metal into gold - the 'greed is good' 1980's.