News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th March 1999

The Ambassadors Theatre Group is launching a new writing venture at its Ambassadors Theatre when the Royal Court season finishes in April. Under the banner of New Ambassadors, it will present six to eight week limited run productions of new writing, either alone, in co-operation with other producers, or as a West End showing for touring companies. Taking a lead from regional theatres, there will be subscription tickets available, late night entertainment, and an education programme. The opening season will be Holy Mothers by Werner Schwab, in a new version by Meredith Oakes, directed by Richard Jones, from 24th May to 3rd July; Last Dance At Dum Dum by Ayub Khan-Din, directed by Stuart Burge, from 8th July to 28th August - both plays produced in association with the Royal Court, Bright Ltd and Mark Goucher; a residency by Out Of Joint with two plays between 30th August and 20th November; and a Shared Experience production of Charlotte Bronte's Jayne Eyre adapted and directed by Polly Teale from 22nd November to 24th December.

The Actors Touring Company's radical reworking of The Tempest is now on a three month regional tour. It is conceived and directed by Nick Philippou, and edited by American playwright Steven Sater, with music by Laurie Anderson. The production uses modern technology to create its twentieth century magic. A company of three is led by performance artist Rose English as Prospero, with Kate Alderton and Jeremy Edwards. Definitely "as never seen before".

In addition to co-presenting Slava's Snowshow at the Piccadilly Theatre, the Hackney Empire is featuring a Clowning Season on its home turf, where Slava made his British debut in 1988. It starts with Leandre, a hit at 1998 Edinburgh Fringe, in Clown? Cabaret? Silent Movie? specially created for the Empire stage, from 15th to 18th April. This will be followed by Devero, a Russian company featuring Anton Adassinski, in Once, another Edinburgh Fringe and 1999 London International Festival of Mime success, from 27th April to 9th May There will also be clowning workshops led by Angela de Castro, Anton Adassinski and Frankie Anderson. Although it was turned down for a 28m lottery refurbishment grant by the Arts Council last year, the Empire has now received 7m for a scaled down plan. Further details on the Hackney Empire web site via the link from our UK London Venues section

Following Slava into the Piccadilly Theatre from 20th April, will be the previously mentioned revival of Pinter's The Birthday Party which is currently touring. It stars Timothy West, Prunella Scales, Nigel Terry, Stephen Pacey, Barry Jackson and Lisa Dulson, and is directed by Joe Harmston. The producers are Green and Langan.

As part of its long-term development programme, the Unicorn Children's Theatre is to leave its home at the Arts Theatre in the West End on 9th April. The company aims to create a purpose built centre for children's theatre, using lottery grant assistance, for which a feasibility study is under way. Until then, Unicorn will present its shows at the Pleasance London off Caledonian Road in N7, starting in the Autumn.

This year's Holland Park theatre season runs from 8th June to 14th August. The productions will be: Verdi's Rigoletto (in Italian) directed by Kate Brown; European Chamber Opera's production of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore (in Italian); Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro (in Italian) directed by Tom Hawkes; Mecklenburgh Opera's production of Offenbach's Orpheus In The Underworld (in English) directed by John Abulafia; Menotti's The Consul (in English) directed by Simon Callow; and Central Festival Opera's production of Puccini's La Boheme (in Italian) directed by Tom Hawkes. Booking opens in May.

English National Ballet returns to the Royal Albert Hall with Derek Deane's 1997 in the round production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, with more cygnets than you can shake a stick at, from 16th to 26th June. The season is presented by the RAH and Raymond Gubbay. ENB is currently on the road with its Tour de Force! mixed programmes. There is a link to the ENB web site from our UK Dance, Opera and Orchestras section.

The ninth season of The Lost Musicals, Ian Marshall Fisher's Sunday concert performances of rarely produced musicals (often notable for their starry casts) is moving from the Barbican to the West End. At the Fortune Theatre: I'd Rather Be Right with book by Moss Hart and George S Kaufman, music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart, from 9th to 30th May; 110 In The Shade with book by N Richard Nash, music by Harvey Schmidt and lyrics by Tom Jones, from 4th to 25th July; and Finian's Rainbow with book by E Y Harburg and Fred Saidy, music by Burton Lane and lyrics by E Y Harburg, from 5th to 26th September. At Her Majesty's Theatre: Jubilee with book by Moss Hart and music and lyrics by Cole Porter on 21st and 28th November.

The National Student Drama Festival takes place in Scarborough from 7th to 14th April. From a record breaking 133 entries, 16 have been selected for presentation, ranging from new writing to world classics. Scarborough assumes the mantle of a mini Edinburgh Fringe, as a variety of venues across the town become performance spaces. Scarborough's Cultural Godfather Alan Ayckbourn is the patron. There is a link to the NSDF web site from our Festivals section.

The Rumour Machine says: that Lorna Luft and father Sid will take part in a tribute show at the London Palladium to mark the thirtieth anniversary of Judy Garland's death, but half sister Liza Minnelli declined; and that The Full Monty is to be turned into a musical, with book by Terence McNally and music and lyrics by David Yazbeck, to be staged at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego next January. The Rumour Machine grinds on.