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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th June 2010

With 40,254 performances, of 2,453 shows (558 of which will be free), in 259 venues, involving 21,148 performers, the 64th Edinburgh Festival Fringe, running from 6th to 30th August, is once again bigger than ever, retaining its position as the world's largest arts festival. In fact, the number of shows has actually doubled since the year 2000. Some of the wackier events will include Ontroerend Goed theatre company combining cardboard boxes with multimedia in Teenage Riot; Festival In The Sky, staged in a restaurant 100 feet above the city; and Ant Dawson: I Bought Richard Hammond's Underpants On eBay. Comedy makes up 35% of the programme as it did last year, Theatre 29%, up 1% from last year, Music 16% and Musicals & Opera 5%, both the same as last year, Dance & Physical Theatre 4.5%, down 0.5%, Events 4.5%, up 0.5%, Children's shows remain at 4%, and Exhibitions at 2%. The Fringe generates around 75m annually for the Scottish economy. Further information and online booking can be found on the Edinburgh Fringe web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Royal Court Theatre has announced the remaining productions in its autumn season. Bruce Norris's Clybourne Park, a black comedy charting how change overtakes a neighborhood, along with attitudes, inhabitants and property values, between 1958 and 2008, inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun, directed by Dominic Cooke, opening on 2nd September; and Nina Raine's Tribes, the story of a young deaf boy's struggle to be heard in a fiercely intelligent and proudly unconventional family, directed by Roger Michell, opening on 20th October; will join the previously announced Get Santa!, written and directed by Anthony Neilson, with music by Nick Powell, who also collaborated on the story, about a 10 year old girl's mission to find the perfect family by enlisting the help of Santa Claus, opening on 14th December. Simon Stephens's new play Wastwater, directed by Katie Mitchell, will be performed in three parts over the course of one evening, played in differing orders, next April

The Chichester Festival Theatre production of Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn's stage adaptation of their television sitcom Yes, Prime Minister, with David Haig and Henry Goodman, directed by Lynn, will transfer to the Gielgud Theatre, from 17th September.

The autumn season at the Rose Theatre in Kingston will include Noel Coward's Hay Fever, the story of a weekend at the country retreat of a bohemian actress, her writer husband, and their two adult children, all of whom behave extravagantly badly in front of their mystified house guests, with Celia Imrie and Alexandra Gilbreath, directed by Stephen Unwin, from 23rd September; and the musical version of The Three Musketeers, book by Peter Raby, music by George Stiles and lyrics by Paul Leigh, adapted from Alexandre Dumas's 17th century swashbuckling tale of the court of King Louis XIII, directed by Francis Matthews, from 27th November.

The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn is to stage Arthur Miller's Broken Glass, about a Jewish couple in New York in 1938, whose lives are deeply affected by the events of Kristallnacht in Germany, leading to problems in their relationship, with Antony Sher, directed by Iqbal Khan, opening at on 6th October.

Good Night Out will stage Jack Hibberd's A Stretch Of The Imagination, a one man show with Mark Little as a philosopher, yarn spinner, heroic battler, satirical revolutionary, man of letters and bon vivant, at the Cock Tavern Theatre in Kilburn, from 16th June.

New York TheatreNet: The Broadway League has announced that Broadway shows grossed a record breaking $1.02bn during the 2009/2010 theatre season, up from $943.3m in 2008/2009, with 11.89m paid attendances, compared to 12.15m the previous year. In 2009/2010 there were 39 new productions, comprising 11 new musicals, 14 new plays, 6 musical revivals and 8 play revivals.

It has now been confirmed that Martin Sherman's Onassis, about the final years of the Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis, and his relationships with Jacqueline Kennedy, Maria Callas and his son, with Robert Lindsay, Lydia Leonard, Anna Francolini, Tom Austen, Liz Crowther, Ben Grove, Robert Hastie, John Hodgkinson, Sue Kelvin, Graeme Taylor and Gawn Grainger, directed by Nancy Meckler, will open at the Novello Theatre on 30th September.

Heartbreak Productions is presenting its 19th season of classic plays performed outdoors in historic settings across the country, with Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden, the story of an orphan brought back from India to live in her uncle's house in England, who is desperately unhappy until one day she and her sickly cousin discover the key to a secret garden, adapted by David Kerby Kendall, directed by Marie McArthy; Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband, where a woman's attempt to ruin a politician's career by producing incriminating evidence about his past is thwarted by the faithfulness and forgiveness of his wife, directed by Peter Mimmack; and Love In Shakespeare, a 21st century love story incorporating elements from Shakespeare's plays. Heartbreak Productions works in association with English Heritage, The National Trust, and public and private stately homes, gardens and castles, performing mostly one night stands, until 29th August. The diverse venues include The Walled Garden Chiswick House, Thornbury Castle Tudor Gardens, and Mottisfont Abbey Garden. Further information can be found on the HP web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Theatre Royal in Bath will stage Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, in which a seance summons up the ghost of a novelist's first wife, who is determined to cause trouble for him and her replacement, with Alison Steadman, directed by Thea Sharrock, opening in November, which will transfer to the Apollo Theatre in March.

The sign from the Boar's Head tavern in Eastcheap, undoubtedly the most historically significant pub in Britain, is now on public view at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre after almost 180 years. The original Boar's Head, built in 1537, is the location of the tavern scenes in Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, and was allegedly frequented by members of James Burbage's company at the Theatre (prior to its removal to Southwark and rechristening as the Globe). It burned down in the Great Fire in 1666, but was rebuilt two years later, with a stone bas-relief of a boar's head set in its wall. This second building was demolished in 1831 in preparation for the reconstruction of London Bridge. The sign was preserved, most recently in storage at the Museum of London, but has not been seen by the public since then.