News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th July 2008

The National Theatre has confirmed new productions opening this autumn. In the Olivier: Sophocles's Oedipus, in a new version by Frank McGuinness, with Ralph Fiennes, Alan Howard, Clare Higgins, Patrick Brennan, Steven Page, Christopher Saul, David Shaw-Parker and Malcolm Storry, directed by Jonathan Kent; in the Lyttelton: To Be Straight With You, conceived and directed by Lloyd Newson of DV8, using dance, text, documentary, film and animated projections to explore tolerance, intolerance, religion and sexuality, with Ankur Bahl, Dan Canham, Seke Chimutengwende, Ermira Goro, Hannes Langolf, Coral Messam, Paradigmz, Rafael Pardillo and Ira Mandela Siobhan; and a Harold Pinter double bill, Landscape and A Slight Ache, each of which puts a marriage under the spotlight, with Simon Russell Beale and Clare Higgins; and in the Cottesloe: Enda Walsh's The Walworth Farce, about violence in a south London Council estate, with Denis Conway, Garrett Lombard, Tadhg Murphy and Mercy Ojel, directed by Mikel Murfi, a Druid Theatre Company production.

Returning productions at the National Theatre will be, in the Lyttelton: the Live Theatre Newcastle production of Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, which tells the true story of a group of Ashington coal miners in the 1930s who invited a professor to give them art appreciation classes, directed by Max Roberts; and in the Cottesloe: Waves, the multimedia show based on Virginia Woolf's experimental novel The Waves, a fragmented and dreamlike tale of friendship, loss, identity and love, devised and directed by Katie Mitchell.

The previously mentioned production of the musical Carousel, music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, with Lesley Garrett, Alexandra Silber and Jeremiah James, directed by Lindsay Posner, with choreography by Adam Cooper, which opens a national tour at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley from 27th September, will transfer to the Savoy Theatre, opening on 2nd December. It tells the doomed love story of a naive mill worker and a glamorous but unreliable roustabout. The producers are Stanhope Productions, Michael Edward and Carole Winter, Tiger/WSZ, Stevens-O'Boyle and Tulchin/Bartner/Ambassador Theatre Group.

The next production at the Soho Theatre will be Chloe Moss's This Wide Night, with Cathy Owen and Jan Pearson, directed by Lucy Morrison, opening on 31st July. The Clean Break production is the story of two women who forged a strong friendship while in prison, but find that this threatens their attempts to make a fresh start when they are released.

The autumn season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough will include Alan Ayckbourn's Woman In Mind, with Janie Dee as a woman who, after a bump on the head, creates an imaginary family to make up for the shortcomings of her real one, from 4th September, directed by Ayckbourn; Jack Lear, Ben Benison's fisherman reworking of Shakespeare's King Lear, performed and directed by Barrie Rutter, from 16th October; and the premiere of Awaking Beauty, a musical that is Ayckbourn's 72nd work, music by Denis King, a contemporary twist on the tale of Sleeping Beauty, from 11th December.

The Fortunes And Misfortunes Of The Famous Moll Flanders, adapted by Peter Machen from Daniel Defoe's novel, with Robert Carragher, Martha Dancy, Sarah Feathers, Tilly Fortune, Chloe Gilgallon, Suzanne Goldberg, Paul Jellis, Peter Machen, Victoria Newlyn, Jessica Pollert-Smith, Tricia Ryan and Kate Skinner, directed by Rebekah Fortune, will open at Southwark Playhouse, near London Bridge, on 14th August. The producer is Camarilla.

The autumn season at the Palace Theatre in Watford will include Ronald Harwood's The Dresser, portraying the relationship of an aging actor manager and his dresser, touring a production of King Lear during the Second World War, based on Harwood's personal experience of working with Donald Wolfit, directed by Di Trevis, opening on 8th September; Alan Ayckbourn's Absent Friends, in which three marriages are exposed at a tea party by the grief of their recently bereaved friend, directed by Brigid Larmour, opening on 7th October; and Dick Whittington And His Cat, written and directed by Joyce Branagh, with Dale Superville, opening on 2nd December.

New York TheatreNet: The Royal Court Theatre's production of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, in a new translation by Christopher Hampton, featuring original cast members Kristin Scott Thomas, Mackenzie Crook, Art Malik, Carey Mulligan, Pearce Quigley, Peter Wight, Christopher Patrick Nolan and Mary Rose, joined by Peter Sarsgaard and Zoe Kazan, directed by Ian Rickson, will open on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre, on 1st October. The play relates the romantic entanglements and regrets of a group of actors, writers and artists gathered on a Russian estate. The production will play a limited run of 14 weeks through to 1st December.

The autumn season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds will include: in the Quarry Theatre: the musical Privates On Parade, book and lyrics by Peter Nicholls, music by Denis King, about a British army entertainment unit in late 1940s Malaya, directed by Ian Brown, from 15th September, a co-production with Birmingham Repertory Theatre; George Orwell's Animal Farm, the classic story of rebellion, manipulation and dictatorship, adapted by Peter Hall, with lyrics by Adrian Mitchell and music by Richard Peaslee, directed by Nikolai Foster, from 18th October; the musical version of JM Barrie's Peter Pan, book by Willis Hall, music by George Stiles, lyrics by Anthony Drewe, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, from 22nd November, a co-production with Birmingham Repertory Theatre; and in the Courtyard Theatre: Clare Brown's Don't You Leave Me Here, a biographical play about the jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton, directed by Sarah Punshon, from 27th September; and Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, adapted by Mike Kenny, directed by Gail McIntyre, from 5th December.

The Rumour Machine says: that New York producers Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig have acquired the rights to develop the 2005 film Kinky Boots, a comedy about a drag queen cabaret performer who helps revitalise a failing British shoe company by creating a line of fetish wear, into a musical; that Tim Rice has written the script for a musical based on the life of 16th century Italian politician and philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli, and is now searching for a composer to join the project; and that the Broadway musical adaptation of The Little Mermaid, is looking for a West End home in the autumn of next year, which may be the London Palladium. The Rumour Machine grinds on.