News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th May 2006

The new season at the Old Vic Theatre will include Kevin Spacey in Eugene O'Neill's A Moon For The Misbegotten, about a quick witted young woman, her scheming father, and their landlord, directed by Howard Davies, opening on 26th September; the all male Propeller Theatre Company's productions of The Taming Of The Shrew and Twelfth Night, directed by Edward Hall, in repertoire from 17th January; and John Osborne's state of the nation play The Entertainer, with Robert Lindsay as the struggling music hall comedian and Pam Ferris as his wife, directed by Sean Holmes, opening in late February. Future productions will include Alan Ayckbourn's trilogy The Norman Conquests, in which the story of a group of characters over a weekend is played out simultaneously in three different areas of a house with Table Manners in the dining room, Living Together in the living room and Round And Round The Garden in the garden, directed by Matthew Warchus; a new version of Cinderella by Stephen Fry; and premieres of Frank McGuinness's Londoners, based on Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor, using a music hall concept devised by director Di Trevis, and Malcolm McKay's Bette And Joan, set on a sound stage in 1960s Hollywood exploring the relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Royal Shakespeare Company's two part adaptation of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, by Mike Poulton, directed by Gregory Doran, Rebecca Gatward and Jonathan Munby, will transfer to the Gielgud Theatre, opening in late July. It features all 23 of the observations on the frailties of man, as told by pilgrims to entertain themselves, on the road from Bankside to Canterbury. The company is led by Claire Benedict, Paola Dionisotti, Lisa Ellis, Michael Mateus, Joshua Richards and Christopher Saul. The season will be presented by Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt.

The new season at Almeida Theatre in Islington will comprise Michael Hastings's Tom And Viv, about the relationship of the writer T S Eliot and his disturbed first wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood, directed by Lindsay Posner, opening on 22nd September; and the world premieres of Charlotte Jones's The Lightning Play, set at a north London literary Haloween party taken over by interference from the past, directed by Anna Mackmin, on 17th November, and Frank McGuinness's There Came A Gypsy Riding, in which a secret is exposed in a family gathering at a remote holiday home in the west of Ireland, directed by Michael Attenborough, on 18th January; with Henrik Ibsen's Rosmersholm, a doomed hotbed of emotions in a cold Norwegian town with a young woman manipulating a former vicar, directed by Anthony Page, following later in the year.

Tom Conti is to star in a revival of Keith Waterhouse's Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell, with Royce Mills, Elizabeth Payne and Nina Young, directed by Ned Sherrin, opening at the Garrick Theatre on 19th June. Based on the life and writing of the Spectator columnist and drinker, the premise is that Bernard is locked in the Coach And Horses pub alone overnight, and recalls people and incidents from his life. The producers are Tom Kinnonmont and Laurence Myers.

The Channel 4 Theatre Director Scheme offers a year long programme for anyone over the age of 20 who wishes to make a career as a theatre director. Three candidates will be awarded bursaries of 10,000, and attachments at theatres, starting in September, during which they will work as assistant director on a variety of in house productions, as well as becoming involved in education, outreach and community work. They may also have the opportunity to direct play readings and other events. Previous theatres participating in the scheme include the Royal Court, the Young Vic, Bristol Old Vic, Belgrade Theatre Coventry and Sheffield Theatres, while Michael Boyd, Ken Loach, Trevor Nunn and Tim Supple are among those directors who have benefited from it. The closing date for the receipt of applications is 25th May. Further information and an application form can be found on the C4TDS web site via the link from Information in the Links section of TheatreNet.

New York TheatreNet: High Fidelity, a musical based on Nick Hornby's novel about a record shop owner (and constant Top 5 list maker) who revisits his former relationships to find where he went wrong, will play a pre Broadway season at the Colonial Theatre in Boston, opening on 26th September. The stage show, with book by David Lindsay-Abaire, music by Tom Kitt, and lyrics by Amanda Green, relocates the story to New York. It will be directed by Walter Bobbie, and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli, with a December Broadway opening scheduled.

This year's season at Grange Park Opera, one of the 'alternative Glyndebournes', runs from 1st June to 4th July, with further performances at Neville Holt from 8th to 16th July. It comprises Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, with Sophie Daneman, Olafur Sigurdarson, Rebecca von Lipinski, Howard Reddy, Stephen Richardson and Frances Bourne, directed by Stephen Langridge; Massenet's Thais with Ann-Sophie Duprels, Ashley Holland, Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts and Vuyani Mlinde, directed by David Fielding; Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, with Victoria Joyce, Colin Lee, Quentin Hayes and Eric Roberts, directed by Martin Constantine; and Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia, with Karina Lucas, Nicholas Sharratt, James McOran-Campbell, Freddie Tong and Lukasz Jakobczyk, directed by Ptolemy Christie. In order to accommodate a dinner interval performances begin at 5.20pm. Further information can be found on the GPO web site via the link from Dance & Opera in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Andrew Lloyd Webber's production of The Sound Of Music, with music by Richard Rodgers, and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, directed by Jeremy Sams, with choreography by Arlene Phillips, will open at the London Palladium on 14th November. The show is based on the book The Von Trapp Family Singers, written by Maria Von Trapp, about her experiences as a novice nun falling in love with a widowed naval captain and his children in 1930s Austria.

Sit And Shiver, written and directed by Steven Berkoff, with Catherine Bailey, Iddo Goldberg, Linal Haft, Louise Jameson, Sue Kelvin and Saul Reichlin, will receive its European premiere at the New End Theatre in Hampstead on 29th May. A semi-autobiographical comedy, it is set in the East End of London during the mourning for a stern patriarchal father with a reputation for self-denial, where the family and friends who have come to pay their respects are shocked by the news that a visitor imparts.

The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester has announced its 30th anniversary season, beginning on 11th September, which includes: the world premiere of Mary Barton, Rona Munro's adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel about a woman in 1840s Manchester who is torn between two men when her past and present collide, directed by Sarah Frankcom; August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, the story of a recording session with blues legend Ma Rainey in 1920s Chicago, with American actor Antonio Fargas, directed by Jacob Murray; Anthony Burgess's adaptation of Edmond Rostand's classic romance, Cyrano de Bergerac, with Ben Keaton, directed by Greg Hersov; and Noel Coward's The Vortex, the dark comedy of emotional blackmail and drug abuse in the relationship of a young musician and his mother, directed by Jo Combes.