News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 12th December 1997

EXCLUSIVE! Even before its Playhouse season of The Judas Kiss opens, the Almeida Theatre is planning a much more ambitious step. It is poised to sign a year long deal with a West End theatre, to present a repertory programme of four shows, each running for 12 weeks. This will be in addition to the work presented at its Islington home. I can't reveal the name of venue, but the clues I can offer are: it is in St Martin's Lane and the name begins with an A!

Last Saturday night saw the grim reaper appearing at two stage doors posting notices. As a result their companies will be turfed out into the snow (like the little match girl) on 20th December. So its have a very Happy Christmas and don't worry about the Boxing Day matinee to: The Boys In The Band and HRH.

Following its successful relaunch this year The Vivian Ellis Prize, which encourages new writing in musical theatre, is making further moves forward. Firstly, Chris Grady, who pioneered the Quest For New Musicals and New Musicals Alliance, is to succeed Abigail Anderson as a full time, rather than part time, co-ordinator. Then triple threat musical person (writer, composer and director) Jeremy Sams is joining the board of directors. Finally, and very suitably, the headquarters of the Prize is moving to the offices of sponsor Rose-Morris in Denmark Street - Tin Pan Alley. Next year's Prize will be officially launched in January, but enquiries are welcome at any time to Abigail or Chris at 11 Denmark Street, London WC2H 8LS, phone 0171 836 7732 or fax 0171 240 9874.

Despite mixed reviews, the Bristol Old Vic production of Macbeth, starring Pete Postlethwaite, has broken box office records on its six date tour, taking over 500,000, and is now looking for a West End home. Patricia Kerrigan plays the Lady with the stain removal problem, and the director is George Costigan. Rebbeck Penny are the co-producers.

The future of Chichester Festival Theatre is in doubt, after the board of trustees voted to close the venue for 32 weeks, at the end of the next summer season. It seems unlikely that current artistic director Duncan Weldon will patch up his differences and return to run next year's programme, and the administrator has been dismissed. Meanwhile in London, Greenwich Theatre, also currently without an artistic director, and facing the loss of its arts board grant, will close for six months from March for "refurbishment". If these closures go ahead, will either of them ever reopen?

Shopping And Fucking by Mark Ravenhill returns for a fourth West End season at the Queens Theatre, from 21st January to 14th March. The Royal Court/Out Of Joint production, directed by Max Stafford-Clark, is again presented by G&J Productions and Bright Ltd.

The Rumour Machine says: that Nicholas Kenyon, having "rebranded" Radio 3 as user friendly, has applied for the job as general director of English National Opera, so if you've always wanted to hear Henry Kelly conduct The Ring... and that four weeks after bidding for the Old Vic Theatre closed, the Mirvishes will still consider offers, so if you've won the lottery in the last month don't delay. The Rumour Machine grinds on.