News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th January 2007

The National Theatre has announced a further production: Anne-Marie Duff will star in George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, about the life, trial and death of Joan of Arc, who was burnt at the stake by the English in Rouen in 1431, directed by Marianne Elliot, opening in May. Meanwhile, Zoe Wanamaker will be joined by Sheila Ballantine, Darrell D'Silva, Susannah Fielding, Stephanie Jacob, Rosalind Knight, Andrew Langtree, Maggie McCarthy and Jules Melvin in the previously mentioned production of Tennessee Williams's The Rose Tattoo, directed by Steven Pimlott, opening at the National on 29th March.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Pinter's People, a collection of 13 sketches and monologues by Harold Pinter, compiled and directed by Sean Foley, performed by Bill Bailey, Kevin Eldon, Geraldine McNulty and Sally Phillips, will play a season at the Haymarket Theatre from 1st to 23rd February. Among the sketches, some of which date back to the 1950s, are Night, in which a couple's recollections of their early romance differs; Tess, a young girl's recollection of growing up without parents, and her sinking into a surreal madness; and The New World Order, about a couple who go on a disturbing and comical journey while discussing what to do with the blindfolded man sitting them. The producer is Mick Perrin for Just For Laughs Live.

Manuel Puig's Kiss Of The Spider Woman, translated by Allan Baker, directed by Charlotte Westenra, will open at the Donmar Warehouse on 19th April, prior to a short tour. It tells the story of two men sharing a cell in a Latin American jail, one a young Marxist rebel punished for his ideals, the other a middle aged man condemned for his sexuality, who form an unlikely relationship through a shared passion for the glamorous fantasy of the movies.

New York TheatreNet: The recent 75th anniversary West End production of R C Sherriff's groundbreaking 1929 anti war play Journey's End, directed by David Grindley, will open at the Belasco Theatre in New York on 22nd February. It will feature an all American cast comprising Hugh Dancy, Boyd Gaines, Jefferson Mays, Stark Sands, John Ahlin, Nick Berg Barnes, John Behlmann, Justin Blanchard, Kieran Campion, John Curless and Richard Poe. Set in the trenches of the First World War, it is the story of a new arrival among a group of British officers preparing their men for a raid on the enemy, who is shocked to find the effect the experience has had on his former friend.

The Tricycle Theatre is continuing its 'enquiry theatre' policy with Richard Norton-Taylor's self explanatory Called To Account - The Indictment Of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair For The Crime Of Aggression Against Iraq - A Hearing, directed by Nicolas Kent, opening on 23rd April. The piece is based on findings of two leading barristers - Philippe Sands QC for the prosecution and Julian Knowles for the defence - who tested the evidence as to whether there would be sufficient grounds to indict the Prime Minister for the crime of aggression against Iraq.

Northern Ballet Theatre will premiere David Nixon's futuristic interplanetary vision of A Sleeping Beauty Tale, in a scenario created with Patricia Doyle, at the Grand Theatre in Leeds on February 24th, opening a regional tour. Set to Tchaikovsky's score, arranged by John Longstaff, it will feature sets, lighting, costumes and special effects by the French designers Jerome Kaplan and Olivier Oudiou. The repertoire for the tour will also include Nixon's last production The Three Musketeers, and Christopher Gable's Romeo And Juliet.

Plastic People of the Universe, the dissident Czech band that forms an integral part of Tom Stoppard's play Rock'N'Roll, will make their British debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank on 24th January, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the human rights petition Charter 77.

On The Casting Couch: Jessica Lange will be joined by Ed Stoppard, Amanda Hale and Mark Umbers in Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie, opening at the Apollo Theatre on 13th February; Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe will be joined by Jenny Agutter and Will Kemp in Peter Shaffer's Equus, opening at the Gielgud Theatre on 27th February; and Miquel Brown, Samantha Hughes, Su Pollard and Amanda Symonds will star in the British premiere of Jeanie Linders's Off Broadway hit Menopause The Musical opening at the Shaw Theatre on 18th April.

The Bush Theatre's recent production of Steve Thompson's Whipping It Up, a farce that reveals the inner workings of backstage life in the House of Commons, with Richard Wilson, Robert Bathurst, Lee Ross, Helen Schlesinger, Fiona Glascott and Nick Rowe, directed by Terry Johnson, will transfer to the New Ambassadors Theatre from 22nd February.

The spring season at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch will include Tim Firth's comedy Neville's Island, about four middle managers on an outward bound weekend when everything than can go wrong does so, directed by Matt Devitt, opening on 5th February; Shakespeare's The Tempest, directed by Bob Carlton, opening on 12th March; Around The World In 80 Days, adapted by Robin Kingsland from the novel by Jules Verne, about the Victorian gentleman who risks his entire fortune on a bet that he can travel around the globe in precisely 80 days, directed by Bob Carlton, opening on 16th April; and the Heather Brothers musical A Slice Of Saturday Night, about a group of teenagers in a 1960s disco, directed by Matt Devitt, opening on 21st May.

The Rumour Machine says: that American TV actress Megan Mullally is negotiating to star alongside Michael Ball in English National Opera's production of the Arabian Nights musical Kismet, opening at the London Coliseum on 25th June; that Imogen Stubbs's two handed play with music Way Beyond Blue, which postulates the American musicians Jeff Buckley and Eva Marie Cassidy marooned together on a desert island, directed by Trevor Nunn, may receive a West End production in the autumn; and that Desmond Barrit will star later this year in a prospective pre West End tour of Braham Murray's 2003 Royal Exchange Manchester production of John Dighton's The Happiest Days Of Your Life, the classic comedy about a girls school billeted in a boys boarding school just after the Second World War. The Rumour Machine grinds on.