News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th June 2004

Sadly once again, the promise held out by the nominations for British talent in this year's Tony Awards wasn't quite realised in the number of winners - the closest we came was Henry IV winning Best Play Revival. It was a year for outsiders beating the favourites, with the puppet musical Avenue Q taking Best Musical and Best Score, beating the smash of the season Wicked (although it took 3 awards including Best Actress for Idina Menzel). No show swept the board this year, and the most awards won by a single show was 5 (including Best Musical Revival) which went to Stephen Sondheim's Assasins. The full list of winners can be found on the Tony Awards web site via the link from the New York section of TheatreNet.

Snoopy! The Musical, featuring the characters from Charles Schulz's Peanuts cartoon strip, will launch the New Players Theatre in Villiers Street on 21st July. The show has a book Charles Schulz, Warren Lockhart, Arthur Whitelaw, and Michael L Grace, music by Larry Grossman, and lyrics by Hal Hackady. The cast comprises Robin Armstrong in the title role, plus Clare Louise Connelly, Steven Kynman, Sarah Lark, Stuart Piper, Kellie Ryan and Alex Woodhall, directed by Arthur Whitelaw and choreographed by Lizzi Gee. The theatre has been dark since the Players music hall company was ejected by bailiffs in March 2002, and it is now run by a new management, in association with the Shaw Theatre and the New End Theatre Hampstead.

Dundee Repertory Theatre has revived its hit production of the rarely performed musical Flora The Red Menace from last autumn, and it is currently touring Scotland. It is the show that marked the Broadway debut of composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb. David Thomson's book is based on the novel Love Is Just Around The Corner by Lester Atwell, originally adapted for the stage by George Abbot. Set in New York in 1935, it tells the story of a young fashion illustrator who falls in love with a radical artist and joins the Communist party - but her enthusiasm proves too much for their liking. It stars Emily Winter, Ann Louise Ross and Richard Conlon, directed by James Brining and choreographed by Rita Henderson.

Theatre Set-Up, the company that takes Shakespeare outdoors to historic settings across the country, is this year performing The Merry Wives Of Windsor in Renaissance costumes, accompanied by dulcet lute music. The company includes Richard Ashley, Morag Brownlie, Angela Laverick, Wendy Macphee, David Reakes and Marcus Webb. Now in its 28th season, the company works in association with English Heritage, The National Trust, and public and private stately homes, gardens and castles, performing mostly one night stands from 11th June to 22nd August. The diverse venues include Glastonbury Abbey, Alnwick Castle and The Lost Gardens Of Helligan. Further information can be found on the TSU web site via the link from the Theatre Companies section of TheatreNet.

The Tricycle Theatre production of Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo's 'documentary drama' Guantanamo: Honour Bound To Defend Freedom is to transfer to the New Ambassadors Theatre, opening on 23rd June. It was created from interviews with the families of British detainees in Guantanamo Bay, and statements from lawyers, government spokesman, medical experts and others, and is directed by Nicolas Kent and Sacha Wares. The cast includes David Annen, Paul Bhattacharjee, Daniel Cerqueira, Jan Chappell, William Hoyland, Tariq Jordan, Aaron Neil, Alan Parnaby, Patrick Robinson, Theo Fraser Steele and Badi Uzzaman. It is presented by Sonia Friedman Productions.

Having taken a sabbatical last year, the Cannizaro Park Open Air Theatre Festival in Wimbledon is back, running from 12th July to 7th August. The programme includes the usual mix of Opera - London City Opera in Puccini's Tosca; Shakespeare - the RJ Williamson Company productions of Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night, featuring Carly Hillman, Norman Pace and Wayne Sleep; Music Theatre - Stephen Schwartz and John-Michael Tebelak's Godspell; Circus - Swamp Circus with both a show and circus skills workshops for children; Comedy - Jongleurs Nights featuring the latest names on the stand up circuit; Theatre - Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island; and Music - concerts featuring Gilbert and Sullivan, West End musicals and opera favourites.

The Peggy Ramsay Foundation is inviting applications for this year's 36,000 Project Award to help foster new writing. Resident or touring professional theatre companies who have been in existence for over two years, and have already produced at least two new plays by UK writers in the last three years, can submit any proposal involving commissioning and/or producing new work by a British writer. The deadline for submissions is 30th July. The Award may be given to one company or divided between a number of projects. Further information can be found on the PRF web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Al Murray will bring his new show The Pub Landlord: Giving It Both Barrels to the Cambridge Theatre on four Sundays, from 20th June to 18th July, as part of a nationwide tour. Once again he pursues a one man mission to put the Great back into Great Britain, setting the record straight on current and philosophical affairs with a frank and open discussion.

Theatre Royal Bath has announced further details of the second Peter Hall Company season, running from 30th June to 4th September, the theme of which is the dependency of women on men, and men on women. Three plays will be performed in repertoire: George Bernard Shaw's Man And Superman, including the rarely played dream sequence, Don Juan In Hell, with Will Keen, Rebecca Hall, Anna Carteret, Julian Glover and James Laurenson, directed by Peter Hall; Moliere's Don Juan, in a new version by Simon Nye, with Will Keen, Rebecca Hall and James Laurenson, directed by Thea Sharrock; and the world premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker's Galileo's Daughter, adapted from the novel by David Sobel, about the relationship between the visionary and his illegitimate daughter, with Julian Glover, Rebecca Hall, Anna Carteret, William Chubb and James Laurenson, directed by Peter Hall. The season will be completed by Noel Coward's spiritualist comedy Blithe Spirit with Penelope Keith, directed by Thea Sharrock.

The Barbican is once again this year presenting Mostly Mozart, four weekends of concerts and events featuring the world's favourite composer, from 9th to 31st July. Highlights include: performances by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, The Sixteen and Europa Galante; the Garsington Opera production of Cosi fan Tutti; Fast Forward Figaro, in which Janis Kelly, Wyn Davis and Linda Kitchen perform Marriage Of Figaro in less than an hour; and a concert pairing the talents of pianists Steven Osborne and Paul Lewis; plus free foyer music, talks and family events. Further information can be found on the Barbican web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that the tour of the Broadway musical Footloose, based on the 1984 film, will be cut short in order for the show to make its West End debut in November; that the Jackson 5 may reform and launch a comeback with their own bio musical based around their back catalogue, to be premiered in London (presumably on the grounds that if we'll put up with Tonight's The Night we'll put up with anything); and that Patrick Stewart may play Picasso in Jeffrey Hatcher's Second World War interrogation drama A Picasso, in the West End later this year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.