News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th April 2008

The 114th season of the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts takes place at the Royal Albert Hall between 13th July and 13th September. The world's greatest classical music festival centres on 76 main concerts (at least one every evening) with consistently low ticket prices, including half price tickets for under 16s, and 500 'promming' tickets at only 5 each, available every day 30 minutes before the doors open. In addition, there is a series of lunch time Chamber Music Proms at the Cadogan Hall, Late Night Proms starting around 10pm, and 70 Proms Plus events, such as pre-prom and composer portrait talks, family orchestra concerts and afternoon films at the Royal College of Music. All concerts are broadcast live on Radio 3, with many televised on BBC4, and available via audio and video webcasts. This year's themes are music from the British Isles, particularly Vaughan Williams and folk music, Bach and Stockhausen. A Dr Who Prom will feature the theme music, plus Holst, Wagner and the premiere of a work by Mark-Anthony Turnage. The Last Night will include the 13th outdoor Proms In The Park, with 35,000 people in Hyde Park, and simultaneous concerts running in Belfast, Glasgow and Swansea, plus big screen relays in 9 other cities. All four live events culminate in live big screen link ups with the Royal Albert Hall. Further information can be found on the BBC Proms web site, via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Once again Shakespeare's birthday will receive a three day celebration at Shakespeare's Globe. On Saturday 19th April, there will be the traditional Sonnet Walks, during which twelve sonneteers will entertain walkers along routes to Bankside. There is a choice of two routes through Tudor London, starting from Westminster Abbey or St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch. Walks leave every 15 minutes from 10am to 12.45pm. On Sunday 20th April, there will be an open day from 12noon to 5pm, with games, activities, workshops, a playwriting masterclass, and an appearance by Footsbarn Theatre, plus the opportunity for members of the public to perform their favourite Shakespeare speech from the stage. On the day itself, Wednesday 23rd April, King Lear, the first performance of the season, will be preceded at 6pm by a mini Elizabethan theatre transported up the river by boat from Butler's Wharf to the Globe, with musicians entertaining along the riverside walk.

The Royal Shakespeare Company will celebrate Shakespeare's birthday the following weekend, on Sunday 27th April in Stratford upon Avon. Because of the rebuilding of the theatre it will be smaller than usual, with events held from 1pm to 5.30pm in a Birthday Marquee in the Centenary Gardens behind the Swan Theatre. These will include Alan Cumming and Julian Glover talking about what the James Bond films have in common with recent RSC productions; director Conall Morrison and a group of actors working on their first encounter with the text of a play; and Penny Downie and Alexandra Gilbreath revealing what draws them to particular Shakespeare characters.

David Eldridge's Under The Blue Sky, a darkly comic play about a group of teachers revealing secrets about the nature of love and friendship, both true and unrequited, with Catherine Tate, directed by Anna Mackmin, will open at the Duke of York's Theatre on 16th July.

This year's summer festival at the Almeida Theatre, running from 10th July to 2nd August, will include a new opera An Ocean Of Rain, music by Yannis Kyriakides, text by Daniel Danis, about three women taking helping at a Haitian orphanage, when a girl arrives on the run from a murder, with Anna Dennis, Camille Hesketh, Katalin Karolyi and Hyacinth Nicholls, directed by Cathie Boyd; Adam Rapp's Nocturne, a one man play about a teenager becoming a man and dealing with the guilt after the accidental death of his younger sister, directed by Matt Wilde; and British African Theatre Company Tiata Fahodzi presenting the work of six playwrights. In addition Theatre Of Possibilities, a concert featuring Sally Burgess performing the British premiere of John Cage's Fourteen and Monteverdi's Il Combattimento De Tancredi E Clorinda, directed by Mike Ashman, will take place at Tate Modern.

On The Casting Couch at the National Theatre: Roger Allam, David Burke, Abigail Cruttenden, Peter Forbes, Glyn Grain, Selina Griffiths and David Schofield will comprise that cast of Michael Frayn's Afterlife opening on 10th June; and Simon Russell Beale will be joined by Clare Higgins in Harold Pinter's A Slight Ache, opening on 21st July.

Elaine Stritch will return to London with her Tony Award winning autobiographical one woman show Elaine Stritch At Liberty, devised by John Lahr, playing at the Shaw Theatre in Euston from 31st July to 10th August.

The National Theatre has launched Entry Pass, a free to join membership scheme offering 5 tickets for its productions to 15 to 19 year olds, in an effort to encourage young theatregoers. Members will also be able to watch behind the scenes videos about work at the National, and access blogs, interviews and news relating to its shows. In addition, there will be exclusive tours, talks, workshops and a discussion forum, and aspiring critics will be able to apply to attend and review opening night performances. Further information and application form can be found on the NT web site, via the link from London venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Divas, a new 'dancical', devised, directed and choreographed by Peter Schaufuss, to the songs associated with Edith Piaf, Marlene Dietrich and Judy Garland, will play at the Apollo Theatre, from 19th June to 5th July.

The Rumour Machine says: that Richard Thomas, composer and co-book/lyric writer of Jerry Springer - The Opera, and composer Mark-Anthony Turnage, are writing an opera about Anna Nicole Smith, model and wife of millionaire J Howard Marshall, 63 years her senior; that following his international success in Chichester Festival Theatre's production of Macbeth, Patrick Stewart may play Iago in Othello there next year, again directed by Rupert Goold; that Can't Smile Without You, a musical featuring the back catalogue of Barry Manilow, will soon be upon us, courtesy of producer Bill Kenwright; and that Nicholas Hyntner has a long term project to direct Rory Kinnear in Hamlet at the National Theatre. The Rumour Machine grinds on.