News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th October 2002

It's Official! 1 As previously forecast here, the Edinburgh Fringe hit Aunty And Me starring Alan Davies and Marcia Warren will open at Wyndham's Theatre on 14th January. This is despite that fact that Warren is due to open in Arsenic And Old Lace at the Strand Theatre in February. However, this would not be the fastest West End recast of all time, as American dancer Donna McKechnie played in Promises Promises for just ten days. Canadian Morris Panych's play, about an ailing aunt who drives an eccentric bachelor to distraction by refusing to die in good time, is directed by Anna Mackmin, and presented in the West End by David Johnson, Karl Sydow and Matthew Gale.

The three week Soho Writers Festival, aimed at encourage new writing, will open on 4th November with the announcement of the winner of the Verity Bargate Award, who receives 1,500 and the opportunity to have their play staged at the Soho Theatre. Over fifty events include: Paines Plough holding a workshop encouraging new writers to develop their individuality; Told By An Idiot exploring devised theatre; Polly Teale with a workshop on adapting novels for the stage; Eastenders writer Liz Colgan presenting Writing For Soap Opera; Polka Theatre running a workshop on writing for children; Will Self reading from his new novel; and Alexi Sayle leading a How To Write The Perfect Sitcom workshop. Further information can be found on the Soho Theatre web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

As the picnic hampers and travel rugs are packed away for another year, Glyndebourne Touring Opera takes to the road until Christmas, following a launch mini season of performances on home turf until 26th October. The repertoire comprises: this season's new production of Bizet's Carmen directed by David McVicar; and revivals of Graham Vick's production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, and Peter Hall's production of Benjamin Britten's Albert Herring.

It's Official! 2 As previously forecast here, Kenneth Lonegran's angst ridden rich kids sex'n'drugs fest This Is Our Youth will return to the Garrick Theatre on 20th November, with trios of relatives of the famous/small time film actors in limited runs, starting with Colin (son of Tom) Hanks, Kieran (brother of Macaulay) Culkin and Alison Lohman, directed by Laurence Boswell.

After a delay of almost fifty years (prolonged even by Italian standards) the historic Teatro Della Muse in Ancona reopens this week. Originally designed by Pietro Ghinelli in 1827, work on its reconstruction after bomb damage in the Second World War was interrupted by an earthquake in 1972 and a landslide ten years later. It finally emerges as a marriage of the classical exterior and front of house, with a new but sympathetically designed auditorium and stage. Following the opening concert, future plans include an opera season, Claudia Cardinale in Pirandello's As You Desire Me, and an international contemporary music project. Further information and a virtual tour can be found on the Teatro Della Muse web site via the link from the International section of TheatreNet.

Aldwych Tube Station, which is becoming an increasingly popular venue for arts events, is home to digital artist and choreographer Stephan Silver's 'walk-through digital-dance sensory environment' between 12pm and 8pm daily from 14th to 20th October. And the best news is: it's free.

John Fisher's previously mentioned play about Tommy Cooper, now retitled Cooper! Not Like That, Like This is finally moving into a high powered production. It will star Jerome Flynn, directed by Simon Callow, choreographed by Lionel Blair, and with Geoffrey Durham as magic consultant. The show, set on the night the comedian died on stage, will open a short tour at Malvern Theatre in March, with the West End in mind.

Over the next three months the National Theatre will be presenting 'three classic children's tales reinvented to fire contemporary imaginations'. Indefinite Articles will perform Pinocchio with puppetry, shadows, illusion and live music in the Loft; Tall Stories will perform Snow White with music and magic in the Olivier foyer; and the Caird Company will present Robin Hood as a medieval pageant in the Loft. Further information can be found on the National Theatre web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The long heralded musical Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, based on Robert Aldrich's 1962 film, with book by Henry Farrell (from his original novel), music by Lee Pockriss, and lyrics by Hal Hackaday has finally reached a full scale production at the Theatre Under The Stars in Houston, Texas. Millicent Martin and Leslie Denniston have the featured roles, with British support from director David Taylor and orchestrator Chris Walker.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Prince of Wales has discussed commissioning composer Patrick Doyle to write an opera celebrating the life of the Queen Mother, by developing his piece The Thistle And The Rose which was written to mark her 90th birthday; that the Prince may be the "guest celebrity" taking part in a Prince's Trust charity performance of The Play What I Wrote; that Adam Faith is working on an autobiographical one man stage show going back to his days as a pop star - possibly similar in style to Elaine Stritch At Liberty; that Janet McTeer will play The Duchess Of Malfi at the National next year, directed by Phyllida Lloyd; and that discussions have taken place about adapting one of the Monty Python films, The Holy Grail or The Life Of Brian, as a stage musical. The Rumour Machine grinds on.

And Finally . . . "It's an exhibition Jim, but not as we know it." Star Trek The Adventure - 'a multi-media interactive experience through five decades of Star Trek adventures' will receive its world premiere near Speakers Corner in Hyde Park from 6th December to 3rd January. It will be staged in a 7,000 sq metre 'hi-tech climate controlled environment' (that's tent to you and me) and will consist of specially recreated sets, props, costumes and interactive demonstrations. Stars, creators and state of the art technology will come together to reveal the secrets of the creative process. Entertainment crosses the final frontier.