News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th May 2007

Chichester Festival Theatre's acclaimed premiere production of Roger Crane's thriller The Last Confession, about events in the Vatican surrounding the death of Pope John Paul I, with David Suchet, Michael Cronin, Michael Jayston, Charles Kay, Bernard Lloyd, Stuart Milligan, Richard O'Callaghan and Clifford Rose, directed by David Jones, will transfer to the Haymarket Theatre on 4th July. It will be presented by Duncan Weldon.

Arts practitioners and supporters have started a petition on the 10 Downing Street web site to protest against the government's impending 35% funding cut for the Arts Council, in order to finance the 2012 Olympics. It has already amassed nearly 10,000 signatures, and the initial aim is to reach over 50,000, to push it into the top 5 petitions on the site, in the hope of shaming the government into changing its plans. You can sign the petition now at 10 Downing Street - it will take less than a minute of your time to do so. Please support the cause of the arts, and try to help this petition towards receiving the highest number of signatures ever achieved, before the closing date on 16th September.

Ewan McGregor, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kelly Reilly are to star in Othello, Shakespeare's tale of envy and jealousy, directed by Michael Grandage, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 4th December.

The summer season at the Palace Theatre Watford will include Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, in which a medium summons up the spirit of a man's first wife, who takes a dislike to her replacement, with Penelope Beaumont, Tessa Churchard, Emma Cleasby, Simon Dutton, Robin Hooper, Becky John and Aicha Kossoko, directed by Matthew Lloyd, opening on 30th May; the Barbican/Young Vic production of Herge's Tintin, adapted by David Greig and Rufus Norris, who also directs, in which the boy journalist (and second most famous Belgian) attempts to rescue his friend Chang after a plane crash in the Himalayas, opening a national tour on 28th July; and the Dash Arts Indian production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Tim Supple, with 23 Indian and Sri Lankan actors, dancers, musicians, acrobats and street entertainers, who perform in 7 languages in addition to English, opening on 10th September.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the long running Tony Award winning Broadway musical Hairspray, adapted from the 1988 John Waters film, about how the Swinging '60s hit Baltimore, as a big girl with big dreams finds celebrity on a television music show, will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre in October. The show has a book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, music by Mark Shairman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Mark Shairman, and is directed by Jack O'Brien, with choreography by Jerry Mitchell. As in the original film, the girl's mother is played by a cross dressing man. The film of the musical will open in Britain in July.

The 31st Spitalfields Festival, centred on Christ Church Spitalfields, runs from 5th to 22nd June, with over 70 events in 9 venues, including Wilton's Music Hall, St Bartholomew's Hospital and Crispin Place. The programme features a wide range of music, from medieval, to world premieres such as Richard Barrett's Flechtwerk, with Clare Wilkinson, and Terry Mann's The Bells Of Paradise. Performers include soloists such as Rohan de Saram, Matthew Barley, Chris Brannick, Philip Mead, Lore Lixenberg and David Alberman; and instrumental groups from Quatuor Diotima and CHROMA to the new ensemble fORCH. In addition to the concerts, there are free lunchtime and early evening rush hour events featuring young performers and composers, plus bell ringing, fringe events, walks, talks, visits and exhibitions about the Spitalfields area and Nicholas Hawkesmoor's Christ Church, one of the great baroque churches of Europe. Further information can be found on the Spitalfields Festival web site, via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Future productions at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester include Neil D'Souza's Small Miracle, a comedy with metaphysical overtones, involving a feuding family at the caravan park of a religious shrine in rural Ireland, with Peter Dineen, Souad Faress, Kulvinder Ghir, Gina Isaac and Ella Vale, directed by Janice Dunn, opening on 1st June.

English National Ballet returns to the Royal Albert Hall with its in the round production of Swan Lake, choreographed by Derek Deane, from 13th to 23rd June. The show features a company of 120, including a sixty strong swan chorus. It is presented by Raymond Gubbay.

New York TheatreNet: Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell will reprise their performances when the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Sunday In The Park With George, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, directed by Sam Buntrock, opens on Broadway at Studio 54 on February 14th. The show is about the nature of art, telling the story of the creation of French Pointillist painter Georges Seurat's painting 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte' and of the characters it portrays. It will be presented by Roundabout Theatre Company, Boyett Ostar, the Menier Chocolate Factory, Neal Street Productions and Mark Rubinstein.

Longborough Festival Opera, one of the 'alternative Glyndebournes', presents its 18th season, running from 23rd June to 28th July. It comprises new productions of Wagner's Das Rheingold, with Philip Joll and Nicholas Folwell, directed by Alan Privett; and Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, with Leigh Melrose, Lee Bisset and Michael Bracegirdle, directed by Richard Studer; and a revival of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte, with Rachel Nicholls, Susanna Tudor Thomas, William Berger, Ashley Catling, Elianne Pretorian and Nicholas Folwell, directed by Alan Privett. In order to accommodate a dinner interval performances begin at 6.30pm. Further information can be found on the LFO web site, via the link from Dance & Opera in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Orlando Bloom looks like being the next to board the Hollywood-West End shuttle, for a production of David Storey's In Celebration, in which three brothers return home for their parents' 40th wedding anniversary, directed by Anna Mackmin, produced by Sonia Friedman, sometime this summer; and that Polly Stenham's debut play That Face, about two children who have become parents to their parents, with Lindsay Duncan, directed by Jeremy Herrin, currently at the Royal Court Upstairs, is looking for a swift West End transfer. The Rumour Machine grinds on.