News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 11th November 2005

The Barbican has announced the productions that will make up the first half of its BITE:06 season. These include Robert Lepage in The Andersen Project, a one man show about a writer creating an opera based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales; Peter Brook's Theatre des Bouffes du Nord production of The Grand Inquisitor, based on a chapter from Dostoevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov, with Bruce Myers; a Samuel Beckett Centenary Festival co-produced with the Gate Theatre Dublin, featuring Waiting For Godot, with Barry McGoven and Johnny Murphy, and Endgame, both directed by Walter Asmus, plus double bills of Rockaby and Ohio Impromptu, Footfalls and Come And Go, and Play and Catastrophe, and the return of John Hurt in Krapp's Last Tape, directed by Robin Lefevre; Companhai de Dancia Deborah Colker with Knot, choreographed around a huge knot of ropes; the first productions of Cheek by Jowl's residency, Twelfth Night, and Thomas Middleton and William Rowley's The Changeling, directed by Declan Donnellan; and Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre with The Flowerbed, loosely based on Romeo And Juliet, choreographed by Michael Keegan-Dolan.

Commercial productions have fought back against the recent domination by subsidised productions in the nominations for this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards. The nominations are also more evenly spread with no shows dominating the list. The highest scoring shows are As You Desire Me - Kristin Scott Thomas (Actress), Jonathan Kent (Director) and Paul Brown (Design); Mary Poppins - (Best Musical), Richard Eyre (Director) and Bob Crowley (Design); Don Carlos - Derek Jacobi (Actor), Michael Grandage (Director) and Christopher Oram and Paule Constable (Designer); Death Of A Salesman - Brian Dennehy (Actor), and Clare Higgins (Actress); and Hedda Gabler - Eve Best (Actress) and Richard Eyre (Director). Winners will be announced at a ceremony hosted by Ned Sherrin at the Savoy Hotel on Monday 28th November. The full list of nominees can be found on the This Is London web site via the link from Guides in the Links section of TheatreNet.

A survey carried out by Theatre Tokens has revealed surprising regional differences in performing arts preferences. While London is the home of both the Royal and English National Opera companies, only 3 % of Londoners choose Opera as their favourite, while in the north west it is 9% - the highest in the country. Comedy peaked at 39% in Wales and the south west, and Drama at 19% in London. There were gender differences too, as men preferred Comedy at 46%, while women chose Musicals at 45%. Nationwide, Comedy came out top with 35%, just ahead of Musicals 34%, with Drama third 12%, followed by Dance 4%, and finally Opera 3%.

New year productions at the National Theatre will include in the Olivier: The Royal Hunt Of The Sun, Peter Shaffer's epic play about the Spanish conquest of Peru, directed by Trevor Nunn; in the Lyttelton: the return of Alan Bennett's The History Boys, directed by Nicholas Hytner, the Complicite co-production of Measure For Measure, with Naomi Frederick and Angus Wright, directed by Simon McBurney, and Mike Leigh's Two Thousand Years; and in the Cottesloe: the world premiere of Southwark Fair, a comedy by Samuel Adamson, in which past misdemeanours bear down on the present in the stories of a variety of characters on the South Bank, with Margaret Tyzack, directed by Nicholas Hytner, and double bills made up from three short plays about the lives of teenagers - Burn by Deborah Gearing, Chatroom by Enda Walsh and Citizenship by Mark Ravenhill.

Legendary stage performances by some of the greatest British actors of the last half century are now publicly available for the first time. The Royal Shakespeare Company and British Library have released The Essential Shakespeare Live, a double CD featuring excerpts from recordings made by the National Sound Archive during performances of 20 RSC productions between 1959 and 2003, selected by RSC Associate Director Gregory Doran. Among the highlights are Laurence Olivier's Coriolanus (1959), Paul Scofield's King Lear (1964), David Warner's Hamlet (1966), Janet Suzman's Cleopatra (1973), Ian McKellen's Romeo (1977), Alan Howard's Henry V (1978), Derek Jacobi's Prospero (1983), Antony Sher's Richard III (1985), Brian Cox's Titus Andronicus (1988) and Robert Stephens's Falstaff (1992). Further information can be found on the RSC web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The next Disney film to be translated to Broadway will be Tarzan, based on the 1999 animated film, which will open at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on 10th May. The show will be directed and designed by Bob Crowley (making his directorial debut), with choreography by Meryl Tankard, aerial movement by Pichon Baldinu, and associate direction by Jeff Lee. David Henry Hwang has adapted the screenplay by Tab Murphy, Bob Tzudiker and Noni White, from the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, and Phil Collins has added eight new songs to his film score. Meanwhile, Disney will move its biggest hit, The Lion King, to the Minskoff Theatre from 14th June, to make way for the arrival of Mary Poppins at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 16th November. Changes are expected to be made for the Broadway production of Mary Poppins to make it less dark than the London original.

Andrew Lloyd Webber will become the sole owner of Really Useful Theatres on 30th November, after buying out his joint venture partner Bridgepoint for an undisclosed sum. Having sold the drama theatres from its portfolio earlier this year, this leaves Lloyd Webber in control of the West End's major lyric theatres: London Palladium, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Her Majesty's, Palace, Cambridge and New London, plus Adelphi (jointly owned with Nederlander), and the remaining lease on the Gielgud, which reverts to Delfont Mackintosh in March next year. The deal also includes the ticketing arm of the company, See Tickets, based in Nottingham and London. Lloyd Webber has pledged to invest 10m in renovation and refurbishment of the theatres over the next five years.

The Christmas productions at The Little Angel Theatre in Islington, home of British puppetry, will be Quentin Blake's Angelo, directed by Sarah Wright, the story of a family of strolling players travelling through Italy in a horse drawn wagon, singing, dancing and performing on a tightrope, and Circus Tricks, a new adaptation of the same story for 2 to 5 year olds. The shows will play daytime performances in repertoire from 3rd December to 29th January. In addition, there will be workshops revealing backstage secrets and teaching how to make and develop puppets and create shows.