News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th February 2005

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, starring Henry Goodman, Eileen Atkins, Geoffrey Hutchings, Finbar Lynch, Sinead Matthews and Paul Ritter, directed by Lindsay Posner, will transfer to the Duchess Theatre on 25th April. In a classic Pinter premise, the mundane life of a musician is interrupted by the arrival of two sinister strangers, whose intentions grow progressively ominous. The co-producer is Duncan C Weldon.

The Theatre Museum is attempting to reveal the mysteries of The Dressing Room with its latest exhibition of photographs by Simon Annand. It features around fifty backstage portraits taken during 'the half' before a performance, ranging from theatre stalwarts such as Judi Dench and Michael Gambon to 'just visiting' film actors like Jude Law and Cate Blanchett. Annand, who has worked as a theatre photographer for 20 years, aimed to capture the transition from the actor who walks in the door to the character who walks on the stage. The show runs until 1st May.

The Royal Shakespeare Company is replacing cancelled performances of Hecuba in Stratford from 3rd to 19th March with one of its oldest war horses, John Barton's 1961 entertainment on the theme of Kingship The Hollow Crown, with Harriet Walter, Alan Howard, Richard Johnson and Donald Sinden. It tells the story of the British monarchy between 1066 to Queen Victoria's coronation, in the words of writers of the time, including Jane Austen and Queen Victoria herself.

The Bridewell Theatre is to reopen, sadly not with the former Bridewell Company that established it, but as an amateur venue. The St Bride Foundation, which owns the building, has come to an arrangement for two amateur companies, the Stock Exchange Dramatic and Operatic Society (SEDOS) and the Tower Theatre Company to share the space. SEDOS, which claims to be the oldest amateur dramatic group in London, celebrates its centenary this year. Tower, the only full time non-professional company in London, staging around 18 productions annually, will stay for up to two years while it finds a new permanent base.

The Chelsea Theatre has launched Live 05, a 13 week season of 56 performances by 17 innovative theatre companies, covering a bewildering range of subjects and styles. Those taking part are 1157 Performance Group, Demonstrate, Vicki Arbuckle, Greg McLaren, Rabbit, Bill Aitchison, Sidelong, Third Angel, Melanie Wilson, Glasseyed, Strange Names Collective, Zephyr in Zanussi, Marina Sossi, Tangled Feet, Propeller and Theatre Buddha, and Lady Inert in association with Society of Wonders. Further information about the shows and performance dates can be found on the Chelsea Theatre web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Janet McTeer and Harriet Walter will square up as the two Queens in Schiller's Mary Stuart opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 20th July.

A revised version of Jeffery Archer's first play Beyond Reasonable Doubt, with Leslie Grantham and Simon Ward, directed by Roger Redfarn, opens a prospective pre London tour at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester on 30th March. It is a courtroom drama in which a QC defends himself against a charge that he killed his terminally ill wife.

The Channel 4 Theatre Director Scheme offers an 18 month programme for anyone over the age of 20 who wishes to make a career as a theatre director. Three candidates will be awarded bursaries of 10,000, and attachments at theatres, starting in July, at the end of which they will direct a production of their own, with funding of 5,000 provided. Previous theatres participating in the scheme include the Royal Court, the Young Vic, Bristol Old Vic, Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Sheffield Theatres, while Michael Boyd, Ken Loach, Trevor Nunn and Tim Supple are among those directors who have benefited from it. The closing date for the receipt of applications is 11th March. For an application form send an A5 SAE to C4TDS (Bursary Application), PO Box 444, Teddington TW11 8FS. Further information can be found on the C4TDS web site via the link from the Information section of TheatreNet.

Hamlet, starring Tobias Menzies and Jane Birkin, directed by Rupert Goold, playing from 17th March to 3rd April, will be the final production at the Royal Theatre Northampton, before it and its neighbour the Derngate close for a 13m refurbishment. The Royal, designed by C J Phipps, will be restored to its original 1880s splendour, while new seating and decor will mitigate the 1980s design of the Derngate, and an extended and refurbished foyer will serve both theatres.

Maureen Lipman is to play the tone deaf soprano Florence Foster Jenkins in Glorious, by Peter Quilter, directed by Alan Strachan, which will open at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in September, with a West End transfer in mind. The play is based on the life of the socialite who gave supposedly serious classical concert performances in the 1920s and 1930s, singing so out of tune that she became a cult figure. The producer is Michael Codron.

Shakespeare At The Tobacco Factory's current season in Bristol comprises Pericles, with Nathan Rimell, Catherine Hamilton and Lucy Black, playing until 19th March, and Chekhov's Three Sisters, the company's first non classical production, from 29th March to 30th April. Both shows are directed by Andrew Hamilton.

The Rumour Machine says: that Kevin Spacey will play Richard II, directed by Trevor Nunn, at the Old Vic in the autumn; that the current touring production of the Tom Lehrer revue Tomfoolery with Dillie Keane, Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Richard Sisson (aka Kit and the Widow) and Matthew Wolfenden, is looking for a West End home; and that the 2002 Derby Playhouse production of Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version, starring Corin Redgrave, will be revived for a West End appearance later this year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.