News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th April 2001

Patrick Marber's new play Howard Katz will open the National Theatre on 13th June, with a cast that includes Ron Cook, Ashley Jensen, Cherry Morris, Trevor Peacock, Paul Ritter, Nadim Sawalha, Mossie Smith and Russell Tovey. It tells the story of a 50-year-old showbusiness agent who throws his family life into confusion in the search for his soul. Marber directs.

The National is staging two exhibitions to accompany its current smash hit. My Fair Lady: Beyond The Stage provides an insight into the design and production process which brought the production to the stage. It focuses on the contribution made by the National's production workshops in the realisation of the show. Examples of costumes, accessories and props, are displayed together with some of the original designs created by Anthony Ward. The Musical Years traces the history of popular musical entertainment from commedia dell'arte to the present day, through original designs, sketches and costume drawings. Important landmarks such as the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan, revue and modern stage and screen musicals are highlighted. Featured designers include Cecil Beaton, Erte, Tim Goodchild, Oliver Messel and Berkeley Sutcliffe.

The Young Vic has announced details of its 'in house' summer productions. Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun featuring Lennie James and directed by David Lan opens on 1st June. Its 1959 Broadway premiere was theatrical watershed, being the first artistic and commercial success for a serious play about an aspiring black family. Timothy Sheader directs Streetcar To Tennessee, a collection of short plays written by Tennessee Williams in the 1940s, which opens on 8th June. They comprise This Property Is Condemned, Talk To Me Like The Rain, Let Me Listen, The Dark Room, Moony's Kid Don't Cry and Hello From Bertha. Sam Shepard's one act play Action directed by Arlette George opens on 20th July. Peter Brook's controversial Paris production of The Tragedy Of Hamlet with Adrain Lester, which cuts about 40% of the text, will play from 22nd August to 8th September.

In a very welcome reversal of the usual trend two London theatres are about to reopen. The Shaw Theatre was part of a library complex that closed in 1994 and has since been converted into the Shaw Park Plaza Hotel. The refurbished venue will open on 18th May with Murder At Deem House by Sam Bate. The Mayfair Theatre is part of the Mayfair Hotel, and in recent years has been used for trade shows. It relaunches on 2nd July with Issy Van Randwick in Song Of Singapore, an Off Broadway spoof '40s musical set in a night-club at the fall of Singapore, which was a hit at Chichester three years ago. Book, music and lyrics are by Allan Katz, Erik Frandsen, Michael Garin, Robert Hipkins and Paula Lockheart.

Disney's Beauty And The Beast will open a national tour at Liverpool Playhouse on 6th November. This is the first time one of Walt Disney Theatricals shows has played outside London.

Highlights of English National Opera's next season starting in the autumn are: the first London staging of Spontini's La Vestale since 1842 with Jane Eaglen; the company's first productions of Lulu, Alban Berg's operatic version of the Wedekind plays and Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress; and Prokofiev's War And Peace, with a cast including Susan Chilcott, Simon Keenlyside and Willard White. Revivals will include Mark-Anthony Turnage's The Silver Tassie; Jonathan Miller's productions of La Traviata and The Mikado; Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro; and Verdi's A Masked Ball.

The 41m refurbishment of ENO's home, the Coliseum, will be phased over the next three years with performances continuing. The auditorium will be redecorated, reseated and air conditioned. Alterations to the front of house areas will create up to 40% more space for the public. The original rooftop conservatory, which was removed in the 1950s, will be replaced with a contemporary version, housing a balcony bar with views of Trafalgar Square. The scheme will be completed by the autumn of 2004 in time for the Coliseum's centenary. It will be celebrated with Berlioz's The Trojans and a fully staged complete Wagner Ring Cycle directed by Phyllida Lloyd and conducted by Paul Daniel.

Further details have been released about the production of the Pet Shop Boys/Jonathan Harvey clubland musical Closer To Heaven which opens at the Arts Theatre on 31st May. Frances Barber and Paul Keating will head the cast, with David Burt, Stacey Roca, Paul Broughton, David Langham and Tom Walker. Gemma Bodinetz directs with choreography by Peter Darling.

Simon Williams stars in his new comedy Nobody's Perfect, with Stephanie Beacham, Moray Watson and Amy Williams. It opens a prospective pre West End tour at the Yvonne Arnaud Guildford on 30th April. When the male winner of a women-only romantic fiction competition has to collect the prize in person, he does so in the character of his non-existent aged Aunt, but fails to let the rest of his family in on the secret, resulting in complications. Andy De La Tour directs.

The Rumour Machine says: that David Thewlis will star in Adventures in Motion Pictures stage version of Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands at the Old Vic next year; and that Judi Dench may play Myra Hindley in a new play by Howard Brenton at the National. The Rumour Machine grinds on.