News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th October 2001

It's Official! Confirming earlier reports, the current hit Broadway musical adaptation of The Full Monty is to open at the Prince Of Wales Theatre on 12th March. The 1997 film told the story of a group of out of work Sheffield steelworkers who form a strip act in order to earn a living. The stage version, with book by Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by David Yazbek, relocates the action to Buffalo in upstate New York. Jason Danieley and Andre De Shields from the Broadway cast will be coming to the West End with director Jack O'Brien.. The London producer is Sacha Brooks.

Meanwhile McNally has written the book for A Man Of No Importance, a musical based on the 1994 film, which is scheduled for production at the Lincoln Centre in New York next autumn. Music is by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and Joe Mantello will direct. Set in Dublin in 1963 it is about a bus driver with a passion for Oscar Wilde. McNally also wrote the book for Kander and Ebb's much delayed musical The Visit, which finally opened at the Goodman Theatre Chicago earlier this month.

Despite growing year on year success, the Covent Garden Festival of opera and music theatre is to be wound up after its main commercial sponsor withdrew 250,000 support, and public funding was refused. The Festival, which has run during May for the last 11 years, was known for its inventive juxtaposition of show and venue, such as presenting Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial By Jury at the Royal Courts of Justice. As alternative commercial funding on the scale required has not been forthcoming there will be no festival next year, but if a new major sponsor - commercial or public - comes forward it could perhaps return in 2003. So if any company in the area (particularly mejia) wants to support their home team now is the time to come forward.

The West Yorkshire Playhouse production of J B Priestley's 1927 play Dangerous Corner, in a revised version updated to the present day, will transfer to the Garrick Theatre on 6th November. It stars Dervla Kirwan, Kate Foster Barnes, Jacqueline Pearce, Rupert Penry-Jones, Steve John Shepherd and Anna Wilson Jones. A chance remark after a dinner party leads to a series of dramatic revelations. Laurie Sansom directs, and Max Weitzenhoffer and Lee Dean are co-producers.

Glynn Robbins adaptation of JRR Tolkien's novel The Hobbit returns to the Queen's Theatre for a second Christmas season from 28th November to 19th January. Tolkien's classic tale tells of a creature who reluctantly becomes involved in an adventure in the realm of Middle Earth, during which he encounters goblins, elves, dragons, and other mythical creatures in his search for the Ring - thus setting in motion the Lord Of The Rings cycle. The show, which is directed by Roy Marsden, starts a short pre London tour by re-opening the Kings Theatre Southsea on 6th November. It is produced by Vanessa Ford, who is also presenting Ron Pember's musical adaptation of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol at the relaunched UCL Bloomsbury Theatre from 4th December to 6th January. Also directed by Roy Marsden, it opens a short pre London tour at Theatre Royal Norwich on 14th November.

Madame Tussauds has broken with a 210 year old tradition by creating its first wax figures of celebrities in costume and character make up. Bela Lugosi as Dracula and Boris Karloff as both Frankenstein's Monster and The Mummy were unveiled at Universal Studios Hollywood recently, marking the 70th anniversary of the original Dracula and Frankenstein films this year (and The Mummy next). The figures will go on permanent display at Madame Tussauds on 42nd Street in New York from 31st October. If they prove popular they are expected to make an appearance in London next year.

Richard Briers and June Whitfield are to star in Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce in the West End next spring. An opening is scheduled for 8th April, but the theatre is yet to be announced. The show will be directed by current hottie Loveday Ingram, and produced by Michael Codron.

Umoja - The Spirit Of Togetherness, a musical celebration of South African song and dance, will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 15th November. It combines tribal music, gumboot dancing, jazz, gospel and the contemporary sounds of Kwaito and Pantsula, and is performed by a company of 36, led by Hope Ndaba as narrator. The show was created by Todd Twala and Thembi Nyandeni, who was previously involved in the long running Ipi Ntombi, with Ian von Memerty who also directs. It arrives in London after receiving its world premiere earlier this year in Johannesburg.

As the picnic hampers and travel rugs are packed away for another year, Glyndebourne Touring Opera takes to the road until Christmas, following a launch mini season of performances on home turf until 27th October. The repertoire comprises: this season's new production of Beethoven's Fidelio directed by Deborah Warner; Jean-Marie Villegier's production of Handel's Rodelinda, revived by Christopher Cowell; and Graham Vick's production of Mozart's Le Nozzie de Figaro from last season, revived by Jacopo Spire.

Forkbeard Fantasy presents their production Frankenstein - A Truly Monstrous Experiment at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith from 7th to 24th November. The show is a surreal take on Mary Shelley's gothic story employing cinematic animation and mechanical sets. The Forkbeard interpretation involves a literary researcher who undertakes a fact finding mission in the Alps, where he stumbles on a forgotten town where Victor Frankenstein lived. Chris Britton, Tim Britton and Penny Saunders founded Forkbeard Fantasy in 1974, and their hallmark is use of visual trickery and the blending theatre and film. This show is conceived, written and performed by the company and directed by Andy Hay. Further information can be found on the FF web site via the link from the UK Theatre Companies section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Chichester Festival Theatre's UK premiere production of the Gershwin musical My One And Only, starring Janie Dee and Tim Flavin, and directed by Loveday Ingram (yes, her again) will transfer to Albery Theatre in the new year; and that last year's Tony Award winning dance musical Contact - three stories about sex and power - co-conceived (with John Weidman), directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, will arrive in the West End in May, produced by Michael White. The Rumour Machine grinds on.