News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th February 2000

The Soho Theatre Company launches its new building, now styled "theatre and writers centre", with a season of four plays in four weeks, from 14th March. These are new work by new writers each rehearsed for a week and staged without decor. The plays are: Station by Jonathan Lichtenstein directed by Simon Usher, exploring the politics of bad memories; Billy And The Crab Lady by Holly Phillips directed by Mark Brickman, about flatsharing twentysomethings; Cadillac Ranch by Marta Emmitt directed by Polly Teale, a tale of an American road trip; and The Jerusalem Syndrome by Amy Rosenthal directed by George Ormon, set in Jerusalem in 1999 and 1988. Full details from the Soho Theatre web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Disney is setting up a new theatre production company so that it can stream its shows according to their content and target audience. Disney Theatricals, which has been responsible for Beauty And The Beast and The Lion King, will continue to be the children oriented brand for shows such as The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, currently being tried out in Berlin. Hyperion Theatricals, the new company, will stage Tim Rice and Elton John's Aida opening at the Palace Theatre in New York on 23rd March, and shows with more adult themes. Future Hyperion projects include Hoopz the basketball show being developed by Savion Glover, Reg E Gaines and Kenny Leon.

The Open Air Theatre Regents Park has announced is new season which runs from 12th June. It opens with the trademark production of A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Rachel Kavanaugh; to be joined by Much Ado About Nothing directed by Alan Strachan; and forsaking the customary American musical this year, it is completed by Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance directed by Ian Talbot.

Norman Wisdom has followed his New Year knighthood by winning the Bernard Delfont Award for Outstanding Contribution To Showbusiness at the 48th Variety Club Awards. The Variety Club, possibly the world's greatest children's charity recently launched a web site. It can be found via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

A surprise Edinburgh Festival hit last year, So, I Killed A Few People… by Gary Ruderman and David Summers, kicks off a regional tour with a season at the Riverside Studios until 26th February. David Summers plays an advertising executive turned serial killer whose goal in life was to invent a catch phrase that would sweep the nation. He achieves it by becoming a serial killer and his last request on death row is to perform a one man show - and this is it. Gary Ruderman directs and the co-producers are Martin Sutherland and Riverside Studios.

Mel Brooks is adapting his classic film The Producers to become the ultimate backstage musical show, which he hopes to bring to Broadway late this year or early next. It tells the story of two Broadway producers who stage the worst idea for a show they can find, planning to keep the investors' money when it flops. Despite (or because of) its title number Springtime For Hitler, the show is an unexpected hit and they are faced with paying off countless angels. Brooks is writing the songs and collaborating with Tom Meehan on the book. Nathan Lane is being mentioned for the lead, and Susan Stroman will probably direct and choreograph.

Siobhan Redmond, Clive Wood and Dulcie Gray are to star in a new production of Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which is now at the Yvonne Arnaud Guildford, prior to a regional tour. Jan Chappell, Heather Dickinson, Edward Hughes, Elaine Pyke, Sophie Ward and Andrew Whipp complete the company, and Peter Wilson directs.

Arts Worldwide is to stage a celebration of dance called Feet First, which will offer people the opportunity to take part classes in a choice of at least 36 different dance styles from around the world. These will include Appalachian, Baroque, Bhangra, Bharatanatyam, Cajun, Capoeira, Cossack, Flamenco, Greek, Gumboot, Hip-Hop, Merengue, Salsa, Samba, Swing, Tango and Zydeco. Taster Days will take place on 10th and 11th June at venues all over London, from the South Bank to the East End, so that people can try out different styles. Then there will be a programme of workshops for participants to refine their technique. The festival finale will be on 23rd July at an outdoor dance party in Finsbury Park. Its choice of patrons - ballet dancer Deborah Bull and comedian Alexei Sayle - show the scope of the event. Further details from the Arts Worldwide web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Following its recent premiere run at the New End Theatre, Weill And Lenya is crossing the river to the Warehouse Croydon, playing from 18th February to 19th March. A musical two hander examining the relationship between composer Kurt Weill and actress/singer Lotte Lenya, it stars David McAlister and Judith Paris. Ken Russell directs and co-wrote the piece with Paris.

The Rumour Machine says: that Oklahoma oil billionaire Max Wietzhoffer, who was pipped at the post in the sale of Stoll Moss Theatres, has come in runner up again with his bid for Associated Capital Theatres, this time to the Ambassador Theatre Group. An announcement has been "imminent" for a fortnight, in the longest running sale in history. Also, that the much discussed Cameron Mackintosh/National Theatre revival of My Fair Lady will star Martine McCutcheon, in which case Trevor Nunn is going to face a tougher job than Henry Higgins ever did. Matthew Bourne will choreograph. The Rumour Machine grinds on.