News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th June 1999

Britain fared poorly in this year's Tony Awards, despite the many West End shows currently on Broadway. Judi Dench won Best Actress in a Play for Amy's View; Matthew Bourne took Best Choreography, and surprisingly Best Direction of a Musical, for Adventures in Motion Pictures Swan Lake, for which Lez Brotherson also won Best Costume Design; and Andrew Bridge carried off Best Lighting Design for Fosse. Full details are on the Tony Awards site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Oh! What A Night will open at the Apollo Hammersmith on 5th August. Another musical entertainment built around 70's pop songs, it features John Altman, Kid Creole and Will Mellor. The London season follows regional tryouts in Blackpool and Manchester. It is directed and choreographed by Kim Gavin, and produced by International Artists and Barry Clayman Corporation.

The original set of The Mousetrap, the world's longest running play, is to be auctioned for charity after the performance on Saturday 19th June. The bad news is, the show will go on as usual with a new set from the following Monday. The money raised will go to Denville Hall, the residential care and nursing home for elderly actors and actresses run by The Actor's Charitable Trust. Furniture and dressing is not included, so reports of a complete Terence Conran makeover seem wildly exaggerated. The set will go to the highest bidder by 5pm on Friday 18th June. Those interested should call Jane Titchband on 0171 828 0600.

Battle Royal, a new play by Nick Stafford, will open at the National Theatre in December. It centres on the tempestuous marriage of the Prince Regent and Princess Caroline of Brunswick, which resulted in Caroline being locked out of her own coronation. Her popularity with ordinary people made her the original "People's Princess" and contributed to the marriage breakdown. Simon Russell Beale and Zoe Wanamaker star, directed by Howard Davies.

In association with Riverside Studios, the National Theatre will present Cloudstreet at the Hammersmith venue from 10th September to 3rd October. The Company B Belvoir and Black Swan Theatre production, adapted from Tim Winton's novel by Nick Enright and Justin Monjo, will be the UK debut of one of Australia's leading theatre companies.

Campaigners for a National Arts Day have asked Culture Secretary Chris Smith to prove he has the courage of his convictions. They want him to stand by an Early Day Motion he signed in 1991, calling for an annual day of celebration of the nation's cultural achievements. The bill was introduced by current sports minister Tony Banks, and was an attempt to promote accessibility and grassroots involvement in the arts. Although the Arts Day Trust has been campaigning for eighteen years, it seems no closer to achieving its goal, as Smith has simply referred it to the Arts Council.

Great Balls Of Fire - The Jerry Lee Lewis Story, featuring Billy Geraghty as Lewis, will open at the Cambridge Theatre on 6th October. Another compilation biomusical, it launches at Theatre Royal Plymouth on 31st July, prior to a regional tour. Simon Asher directs and the producers are Laurie Mansfield, Jim Davidson, Greg Smith and Robin Clark. More interestingly, a revised version of the musical Just So will open at Theatre Royal Plymouth in February, before transferring to the Young Vic. Based on Rudyard Kipling's animal stories, book and lyrics are by Anthony Drewe, and music by George Styles. Henry Goodman will direct.

The eight London theatres and four cinemas operated as Associated Capital Theatres, will be sold within the next two months, as part of the take-over of their parent company Chesterfield Properties. There have been expressions of interest in individual venues, but the group will not be split up, and if no satisfactory offer is immediately forthcoming, it will continue to trade under the current management until one does.

Maureen Lipman is to play legendary literary agent Margaret (Peggy) Ramsay in Peggy For You a new play by Alan Plater. It presents a picture of "a day in the life of" the influential agent, who discovered and launched many new dramatists in the 50's and 60's, including Joe Orton. She was recently the subject of a book by Simon Callow. The play will be directed by Robin Lefevre, and presented at the Hampstead Theatre from 18th November to 8th January.

The Rumour Machine says: that Elaine Page will join Lou Diamond Phillips in the London presentation of the current Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King And I next spring; and that Barbara Dickson will play Viv Nicholson in the musical Spend Spend Spend at the Piccadilly Theatre in October. The Rumour Machine grinds on.