News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th July 2002

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the fourth Kids Week in the West End from 23rd to 30th August, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience with thousands of free tickets and special events. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to over 25 West End shows, with up to two additional children at half price. Over 35 accompanying events will be taking place during the week, including backstage tours, workshops, classes, storytelling and 'meet the cast' opportunities. There are also discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages, and a free accompanying Kids Week Passport in which to collect a sticker or stamp at each show visited, and of course, autographs. Booking opens at noon on 17th July. Further information can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Alan Ayckbourn's Damsels In Distress trilogy, which premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough last summer, will open at the Duchess Theatre on 7th September. GamePlan, FlatSpin and RolePlay (Ayckbourn's 58th, 59th and 60th plays), feature one group of actors, in three separate comedies, that share the same set - a luxury Docklands apartment. The company comprises Robert Austin, Saskia Butler, Bill Champion, Tim Faraday, Jacqueline King, Alison Parageter and Beth Tuckey. Ayckbourn directs, and it is presented by Michael Codron, Lee Dean, Michael Linnit, Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Ian.

A five year development process involving the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and writers Paul James and Eric Angus culminates in the world premiere of the musical Police Story in the Fame school's Paul McCartney Auditorium from 16th to 28th July. The comedy-thriller-dance show, with book and lyrics by James and music by Angus, is a contemporary look into the world of television cop shows and Hollywood movies. The company, featuring Emma Bispham and Jason Hain, is drawn from LIPA graduates over the period, and is co-directed by tutor Nick Phillips who has led the development, and graduating student Jamie Lloyd. Thanks to this unique collaboration, the show has undergone extensive workshopping and subsequent refinement that would have been beyond the financial resources of a traditional commercial production. This is a valuable way of fostering British musical theatre talent which should be taken up elsewhere.

Brenda Blethyn is to star in George Bernard Shaw's Mrs Warren's Profession, directed by Peter Hall, opening at the Strand Theatre on 10th October. Although written in 1894, the subject was considered so scandalous that it was not produced until 1902. The 'profession' in question is the oldest one, and the play concerns the shattering of their relationship when Mrs W's blue stocking daughter finds out how her education was paid for.

Colin Baker Louise Jameson and Mark McGann are to star in Gerald Moon's Corpse!, which opens a national tour at Theatre Royal Northampton on 15th August. The comedy thriller is the story of an actor's attempt to kill his identical twin and assume his identity in order to inherit a fortune. It will be directed by Robin Herford, and produced by Kenneth Wax and Nick Brooke.

The European premiere of David Lindsay-Abair's Off Broadway hit comedy Fuddy Meers will now be at the Arts Theatre on 29th October, rather than at the Edinburgh Fringe as previously planned. Jane Krakowski of Ally McBeal fame (though she has had a distinguished Broadway career) will make her British stage debut as an amnesiac who embarks on a wild journey of self discovery attempting to regain her memory. It will be directed by Stephen Henry and presented by Edward Snape.

The Watermill Theatre Newbury is inviting submissions for its Raising Voices new writing programme, with plays of any kind, requiring no more than 6 performers welcome. 6 finalists will be chosen to have the opportunity to work with a dramaturg for a day, and then with a director and actors for a further day, prior to a reading before an audience. A development award will be made to the most promising work. The deadline for entries is 30th November, with the finalists announced in February, and the readings staged in April. Submissions should be made to Jill Fraser, Watermill Theatre, Bagnor, Newbury, RG20 8AE, with an entry fee of 20 and a SAE for the return of scripts.

The autumn season at Sadler's Wells comprises Bounce, the streetdance show; Sangeetham, a celebration of classical and contemporary Indian dance; Danses Concertantes featuring principals and soloists of New York City Ballet; Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project with a new work by Richard Move; Richard Alston Dance Company with Stampede, a new piece set to Italian medieval music; Rosas performing Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's Rain; Dance Theatre of Harlem in two mixed programmes; Rambert Dance Company with a new piece by Wayne McGregor; and Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! at Christmas.

Gary Wilmot, Clive Francis and Jeffrey Holland are to star in Giles Havergal's adaptation of Graham Green's Travels With My Aunt, which opens a national tour at Nottingham Playhouse in August. The trio play myriad characters (including the aunt) in the extraordinary journey around the world of a retired bank clerk and his eccentric aunt. It will be directed by Richard Baron and presented by Green and Lenegan.

Umoja, the celebration of South African song and dance, which was forced to close at the Shaftesbury Theatre earlier this year after complaints of noise by the neighbours, and is currently at the Queen Theatre, is on the move again. It will transfer to the New London Theatre on 2nd September.

Music venue operators Mean Fiddler are planning a further move into the West End, by turning the 400 seater ABC cinema at Piccadilly Circus into a cabaret venue. London has few cabaret spaces compared to New York, and a small, quality central venue would a valuable addition, providing previously unseen entertainers with an opportunity to perform here.

The Rumour Machine says: that Marsha Lebby and John Lollos Mr. Goldwyn, the bio-comedy two hander about movie producer Samuel Goldwyn starring Alan King, which has just finished an Off Broadway run, will open at the Comedy Theatre in March; that legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham may create a new work to be performed in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern next year; and that Pamela Anderson has ambitions to star in the West End in a revival of The Girl Can't Help It, about the attempts of a gangster to turn his talentless girlfriend into a pop star, the 1956 film of which made Jayne Mansfield a legend. The Rumour Machine grinds on.