News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th March 2004

Stephen Tompkinson and Michelle Collins are to star in Charles Dyer's Rattle Of A Simple Man, directed by John Caird, opening at the Comedy Theatre on 11th May. The poignant comedy is the story of a provincial middle aged man in London for a football match, who is drawn to the bright lights of Soho, and meets a working girl.

English Touring Opera, celebrating its 25th season, has just launched a three month spring tour, comprising new productions of Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro, with Rodney Clarke, Hyacinth Nicholls, Keel Watson, Barry Martin and Donna Bateman, directed by Paul Miller; and Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, with Andrew Slater, Elizabeth Atherton, Douglas Bowen, Serena Kay and Hal Cazalet, directed by James Conway and Joseph Alford. Further information can be found on the ETO web site via the Dance, Opera & Orchestras section of TheatreNet.

Hurricane, Richard's Dormer's one man show about the snooker legend Alex Higgins, is to play a six week season at the Arts Theatre, opening on 30th March. Written by Dormer, and directed by Rachel O'Riordan, the show was originally produced in Belfast and a hit at last year's Edinburgh Fringe, and recently ran at the Soho Theatre. It is now presented by Martin Witts and Edward Snape.

Double Indemnity, adapted for the stage by David Joss Buckley from the novel by James M. Cain, starring Hywel Simons, Lucy Cohu and Lou Hirsch, directed by Giles Croft, is running at Nottingham Playhouse until 3rd April. The story of an insurance salesman who falls for a client, and helps to murder her husband, but is rumbled by a claims adjuster, was made famous by the Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler 1944 film noir classic.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Hollywood actress Alicia Witt will make her UK stage debut, joined by British actors Enzo Cilenti, Sienna Guillory and James Murray, in Neil LaBute's The Shape Of Things, directed by Julian Webber, opening at the New Ambassadors Theatre on 17th May. Set on a college campus in America, it is the story of four students engaged in an intense experiment in modern love and art. After its premiere at the Almeida Theatre three years ago, the play bypassed the West End, transferred to Broadway, and was subsequently filmed. The produces are Kenny Wax, PW Productions, Lee Menzies and McLaren Burnell.

The Bridewell Theatre, champion of small scale musicals, has secured its first public funding, and staved off the imminent threat of closure. It has existed on a shoestring since it opened ten years ago, partly because it secured the use of the former swimming pool in the basement of St Bride's Institute rent free. However its landlord demanded that the company pay both an economic rent and service charges as conditions for a new lease from 1st April. Thanks to a grant of 30,000 each from the Corporation of London and Arts Council England, together with 50,000 achieved by its direct fundraising appeal, the company has safeguarded its immediate future, and signed a new two year lease. It is now searching for long term alternative accommodation. Further information, and details of how to contribute to the appeal can be found on the Bridewell Theatre web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

A series of events to celebrate the centenary of the birth of John Gielgud on 14th April is being organised by the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Shakespeare Guild and RADA. Highlights include: Judi Dench, Martin Jarvis, Michael Pennington, Ian Richardson and Paul Scofield in a recital at the Gielgud Theatre on 19th April; and a reading of selections from Gielgud's prolific collection of letters, which express trenchant views on his contemporaries, at the National Theatre on the anniversary itself.

The musical Dracula, starring Tom Hewitt, Len Cariou and Melissa Errico, directed Des McAnuff, is heading for Broadway, opening at the Belasco Theatre in July. The show, which has book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton and Don Black, and music by Frank Wildhorn, was originally mounted at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego in three years ago, but has been substantially revised since then. Based on the Bram Stoker character, the vampire count ages backwards from a 70 year old Translyvanian in his castle, into a handsome thirtysomething seducing the young women of Victorian London.

The spring season at Southwark Playhouse comprises: the Bristol Old Vic production of Kangaroo Valley, written and directed by Toby Farrow, about a professional swimmer living in a hostel with a pole dancer, a hairdresser and skateboarder, from 24th March to 10th April; physical theatre company Tour De Force's production of Jean Genet's The Maids, a contemporary interpretation of the story of two sisters who contrive the perfect murder of their mistress, from 13th April to 1st May; and Arthur Miller's The Archbishop's Ceiling, in which a dissident writer, whose only copy of his novel has been stolen by secret police, is left in a room (which may or may not be bugged) to decide whether to flee the country or stay, directed by Gareth Machin, from 5th to 29th May.

Entente Cordiale is a year long festival celebrating the centenary of the signing of the historic agreement of co-operation between Britain and France on 8th April 1904. It will include official ceremonies, sporting, cultural and scientific events, and many exchange visits, highlighting ties between the two countries. In Britain, performing arts events will include: a series of ten concerts of the work of Camille Saint Saens, directed by cellist Steven Isserlis, at the Wigmore Hall, the Barbican and the Royal Academy of Music in April; the inevitable Pop Concert in Hyde Park in July; and Rameau's opera Les Paladins, featuring the baroque ensemble Les Arts Florissants, directed and choreographed by Jose Montalvo, with dancers from Comagnie Montalvo-Hervieu at the Barbican in October. In addition, many annual events, such as the Edinburgh Festival, will have a French theme. Further information can be found on the EC web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Jonathan Pryce has obviously hit it off with Edward Albee, as he is to star in Albee's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? on Broadway late this year or early next; that Kevin Spacey's first season as artistic director at the Old Vic from September is making the latest bid for a London production of Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story - if the rights situation can be sorted out; that Lorna Luft may bring Songs My Mother Taught Me, her one woman show about her mother, Judy Garland, to the West End this year; and that Kristina, the Benny Andersson-Bjorn Ulvaeus-Herbert Kretzmer musical based on Wilhelm Moberg's novel The Emigrants, is now likely to be launched in America, rather than Britain as originally planned. The Rumour Machine grinds on.