News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th November 2004

The Donmar Warehouse has announced its spring and summer productions, which comprise: the world premiere of Owen McCafferty’s new version of Days Of Wine And Roses, by J P Miller, the story of a couple who make a new start in 1960s London, but descend into alcoholism, directed by Peter Gill, on 22nd February; David Greig’s Cosmonaut’s Last Message To The Woman He Once Loved In The Former Soviet Union, about two forgotten cosmonauts orbiting a world that cannot hear them, opening on 12th April; the British premiere of Neil LaBute’s This Is How It Goes, looking at issues of race and infidelity in small town America, on 31st May; and the world premiere of Peter Oswald’s new version of Mary Stuart, by Friedrich Schiller, about the relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, on 20th July. Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, in a new translation by David Eldridge, directed by Michael Grandage, will form part of the following season.

Donmar has formed a new partnership with the American producer Arielle Tepper, who will work on the transfer of productions and the development of new writing. Tepper will link Donmar with her annual four week Summer Play Festival in New York, enabling writers to work with British directors and performers, to help develop their skills. It has been confirmed that Ewan McGregor will star in the Donmar production of Guys And Dolls, the musical by Frank Loesser, Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, based on Damon Runyon’s short stories of shady New York characters, directed by Michael Grandage, with choreography by Rob Ashford, which is expected to open at the Piccadilly Theatre in early June.

The recent Liverpool Playhouse production of Bill McIllwarith’s The Anniversary, a family celebration from hell, directed by Denis Lawson, will transfer to the Garrick Theatre on 26th January. It stars Sheila Hancock, who played the young daughter in law in the 1966 premiere production in Liverpool, and in the subsequent film, who now returns as the matriarch, joined by Rosie Cavaliero, Liam Garrigan, Tony Maudsley and Madeleine Worral. The producer is Matthew Byam Shaw.

Venice’s Fenice Theatre has reopened with a gala performance of a new production of La Traviata, conducted by Lorin Maazel, and directed by Robert Carsen, featuring Patrizia Ciofi. The interminable struggle to rebuild the theatre after it was completely destroyed by fire in 1996 - with arguments over who was to pay (since it was underinsured) and what form it was to take - seems, in the end, to have produced a satisfactory outcome. The decision of ‘come era dove era’ - as it was where it was - has resulted in an auditorium that looks (and sounds) like the old one, but with a new foyer and modern backstage and technical facilities. Meanwhile, the more intimate Malibran Theatre, which housed the company during reconstruction, will continue to be used to stage smaller scale works. Further information can be found on the Fenice web site, via the link from the International section of TheatreNet.

The National Theatre has announced new productions for the first half of next year, which are: A Minute Too Late, a vaudevillian comedy of mourning, devised by Complicite, with Jos Houben, Simon McBurney and Marcello Magni, directed by Simon McBurney, opening on 27th January; Caryl Churchill’s new version of A Dream Play by August Strindberg, a surrealist dream about a girl from another world who comes to find out why people complain so much, with Sean Jackson, Charlotte Roach, Dominic Rowan, Justin Sallinger, Susie Trayling and Augus Wright, directed by Katie Mitchell, with choreography by Kate Flatt, opening on 16th February; David Hare’s new version of The House Of Bernarda Alba, by Frederico Garcia Lorca, with Penelope Wilton, about sibling rivalry and a clandestine affair in a household of sexually repressed women, directed by Howard Davies, opening on 15th March; and Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts 1 & 2, with Michael Gambon and David Bradley.

The National Theatre production of Primo, written and performed by Antony Sher, from Primo Levi’s account of his life and survival at Auschwitz, through fiction, memoir and poetry, directed by Richard Wilson, will transfer to Hampstead Theatre from 23rd February to 19th March. This will follow the world premiere of Losing Louis, by Simon Mendes da Costa, a comedy in which events from the past and present interweave at a family reunion, directed by Robin Lefevre, playing at Hampstead from 20th January to 19th February. The cast comprises Lynda Bellingham, Jason Durr, David Horovitch, Brian Protheroe and Alison Steadman.

Brits On Broadway: Edward Hall will direct the Roundabout Theatre Company production of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, which follows the woes of a faded Southern belle and her road to madness aided by her violent brother in law, starring Natasha Richardson, opening at Studio 54 on 24th April; following the withdrawal of Matthew Bourne, Francesca Zambello will now direct the Broadway stage musical of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, with book by David Ives, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman; and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Woman In White will open on 10th November next year, at the Nederlander Theatre.

The English National Opera production of On The Town, the musical evocation of 1940s New York, with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and music by Leonard Bernstein, will feature Helen Anker, Philip Ball, Adam Garcia, Caroline O’Connor, Lucy Schaufer, Willard White and Greg Winter. The show, which will be directed by Jude Kelly, and choreographed by Stephen Mear, will open at the Coliseum on 5th March.

It’s Official! As previously forecast here Mark Rylance will play Prospero as part of his final season as artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe. The season, running from 6th May to 2nd October, under the title The Season Of The World And Underworld, is made up of The Tempest, with a cast of just three actors, three dancers and six musicians, directed by Tim Carroll; Pericles, in a modern staging directed by Kathryn Hunter; The Winter’s Tale, in an ‘original practices’ production, exploring the clothing, music, dance and settings from the original Globe, (but performed by a mixed gender company) directed by John Dove; and Plautus’s Greco-Roman comedy The Storm, in a new version by Peter Oswald, directed by Tim Carroll. Two accompanying minimalist ‘Persephone Projects’, will focus on acting skills. In The Fall Of Man, written by Jack Shepherd and Oliver Cotton, Shepherd and Marcello Magni will lead the Pericles company in an exploration of the use of masks; while Giles Block will lead The Winter’s Tale company in an exploration of eloquence with Troilus And Cressida.