News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th January 2001

The previously mentioned production of Under The Doctor, Peter Tilbury's modern farce, with Anton Rodgers, Peter Davison and Belinda Lang, will transfer directly from Churchill Theatre Bromley to the Comedy Theatre on 22nd February. Fiona Laird directs and the producer is Peter Wilson Productions.

Natural Nylon Entertainment, the company formed by Ewan McGregor, Jude Law and Sadie Foster to develop British films, is moving into stage production. It has formed an alliance with the Ambassador Theatre Group, the Natural Nylon Theatre Company, which is looking at a development deal with the Young Vic Theatre. The first ventures, scheduled for early next year, are expected to be: Marlowe's Dr Faustus directed by Young Vic artistic director David Lan; Chekov's Three Sisters in a new version by Christopher Hampton, directed by Sean Mathias; and John Fowles The Collector adapted by Mark Healy, directed by Mark Clements.

Yasmina Reza's latest play Life X 3, with Mark Rylance, Imelda Staunton, Oliver Cotton and Harriet Walter, transfers to the Old Vic Theatre on 12th February, following its run at the National. It tells three versions of what happens when a couple arrive for a dinner party 24 hours early. It is translated by Christopher Hampton, directed by Matthew Warchus and produced by David Pugh.

Leslie Phillips and Ana Carteret star in the world premiere of John Mortimer's satirical courtroom drama Naked Justice, opening on 26th January at the West Yorkshire Playhouse Leeds. A 17 year old who had a motive and the deceased's blood on his clothes is accused of murder, and since the police have his confession, the trial seems a foregone conclusion . . . Christopher Morahan directs a co-production by the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Triumph Proscenium Productions and the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford.

The Hull Truck theatre company's twenty first anniversary production of John Godber's Bouncers will open on 2nd February at the Whitehall Theatre. It stars Andrew Dennis, Andrew Dunn, Zach Lee and Godber himself, playing forty characters between them (female as well as male) in the story of a night out in a Northern nightclub. Godber's "slice of life" plays, usually drawn from his own experiences, have proved very popular on tour, making him one of the country's most performed playwrights, but West End appearances have been less successful. The producers are Ambassador Theatre Group and Act Ltd.

The Theatre Investment Fund, by arrangement with The Society Of London Theatre, is holding a Workshop For New Producers from 8th to 10th March. This is an intensive course for anyone interested in producing or investing in the commercial West End theatre. It will provide detailed information on how to set up, produce and promote commercial productions, for those who have limited knowledge of production, or have not previously been involved. For an application form send a stamped addressed envelope to The Theatre Investment Fund, The Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London W1V 8AY. Closing date for applications is 12th February.

We're used to seeing James Stewart in the Frank Capra film each Christmas, but now It's A Wonderful Life has taken to the stage. Will Gregson is the desperate middle aged man contemplating suicide, who is shown by an angel how valued he actually is. Mary Elliott has adapted the Philip van Doren Stern story, and Gavin Stride directs. New Perspectives will be touring small scale venues with their production until 24th February.

Although it failed in an attempt to get its hands on the inter-war architectural gem the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, the JD Wetherspoon pub chain continues to stalk regional theatres like some rabid wolf. Now the Kings Theatre in Southsea is in its sights. Hampshire County Council is not prepared to offer continued financial support, and is considering bids for the freehold of the 1400 seat Frank Matcham theatre, while the local Portsmouth Council is turning its back. Once again it would be a disgrace for a fine regional theatre, in a city which should be capable of supporting such a venue, were to be turned into a pub.

Gaye Brown and Aimi MacDonald are to star as Mapp And Lucia, a new musical based on the characters in E.F. Benson's books, at the Jermyn Street Theatre from 15th February to 3rd March. Mapp and Lucia live in a fictitious Sussex village called Tilling, and have pursued their rivalry through six novels and two short stories. The show is written and directed by Peter Benedict, with music by William Hetherington.

Simon Callow in The Mystery Of Charles Dickens played a live webcast from the Albery Theatre on Online Classics on 11th January, which will remain available for viewing until 18th January. Trevor Nunn's National Theatre production of The Merchant Of Venice can also still be seen. There is a link to Online Classics from the Webcast section of TheatreNet.

The 12th Garsington Opera season, running from 9th June to 8th July, comprises the British premiere of Rossini's La Gazzetta with Donald Maxwell and Robert Poulton, directed by Marco Gandini; Mozart's Die Zauberflote with Felicity Hammond, Rufus Muller and Jennifer Rhys-Davies, directed by James Macdonald; and Strauss Intermezzo with Yvonne Kenny, Tom Erik Lie and Lynda Russell, directed by David Fielding. The operas are performed on a terrace at the end of the manor house, within the gardens created in the 1920's by Lady Ottoline and Philip Morrell, while the audience is in a purpose built auditorium.

The Rumour Machine says: that Peter Brook's controversial Paris production of Hamlet with Adrain Lester (which cuts about 40% of the text) may transfer to London; that Lynn Redgrave will replace Patricia Hodge in the National Theatre production of Michael Frayn's Noises Off when it moves to the Piccadilly Theatre in May; and that Robert De Niro is in discussion about joining a future cast of Art at Wyndham's Theatre, which the producer is at pains to "neither confirm or deny. Frankly, Kermit, Big Bird and Fozzy Bear are about the only ones not to have been rumoured for a future cast, and who knows, Junior Art may be just around the corner. The Rumour Machine grinds on.