News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th February 2009

Arts Council England has officially launched A Night Less Ordinary, the scheme designed to encourage young people to gain the theatregoing habit. 618,000 free tickets will be made available to young people under the age of 26 at selected venues throughout the country, over a 2 year period from 16th February. Among the 200 venues taking part in the scheme, ranging from the National Theatre to church halls in Cornwall, are a consortium of 12 off West End theatres, comprising the Almeida, BAC, Bush, Donmar Warehouse, Greenwich, Hampstead, Lyric Hammersmith, Royal Court, Soho, Tricycle, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Young Vic. To celebrate the launch of the scheme, many theatres are holding special events, including post show talks, masterclasses and workshops. Further information can be found on the ANLO web site, via the link from Festivals & Events in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn is to stage The Great Game: Afghanistan, a festival of plays, concerts, readings, talks, films and exhibitions exploring Afghan culture and history from 1842 to the present, directed by Nicholas Kent and Indhu Rubasingham, running from 17th April to 14th June. It will include the world premieres of 12 plays by Stephen Jeffreys, Ron Hutchinson, Amit Gupta and Joy Wilkinson, David Edgar, J T Rogers, David Greig, Colin Teevan, Ben Ockrent, Abi Morgan, Richard Bean and Simon Stephens, which will run in repertoire.

A stage version of Quadrophenia, music and lyrics by Pete Townshend, adapted by Jeff Young, John O'Hara and Tom Critchley from the 1973 album and 1979 film, a coming of age story about rebellious teenage Mods in the 1960s, who live for music and riding their scooters, directed by Tom Critchley, with choreography by Frances Newman, will open a national tour at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth, on 11th May. The producers are Bill Schultz, Ina Meibach and the Theatre Royal Plymouth in association with Industrial Language.

Forthcoming productions at Theatre 503 in Battersea will include Jane Brodie's Hallelujah, a comedy in which three people are trapped in a rundown hotel, with Mark Arends and Aoife McMahon, directed by Gemma Fairlie, opening on 2nd March, produced by Pyre Productions; and Orlando Wells's Tin Horizon, a futuristic view of a man beset by problems, directed by Phoebe Barran, opening on 14th April.

Ticketing company Ticketmaster Entertainment and venue and concert promoter Live Nation are to combine in a tax-free, all-stock merger of equals with a combined enterprise value of approximately $2.5bn, to be called Live Nation Entertainment. Ticketmaster shareholders will receive 1.384 shares of Live Nation common stock for each share of Ticketmaster they own, subject to certain adjustments. Live Nation and Ticketmaster shareholders will each own approximately 50 percent of the combined company, which anticipates generating approximately $40m savings through the combination of their ticketing, marketing, data centres and back-office functions. Live Nation currently produces more than 16,000 concerts for 1,500 artists in 57 countries and sells more than 45m tickets each year, while Ticketmaster, with 10,000 clients, operates in 20 international markets, and as well as online sales, has 6,700 retail outlets and 19 call centres worldwide. However the merger may run into regulatory difficulties over fears that it will create a monopoly in concert ticketing.

The British premiere of the Off Broadway show Jolson & Co - The Musical, a biomusical about the entertainer Al Jolson featuring his best known songs, written by Stephen Mo Hanan and Jay Berkow, featuring Alan Stewart, directed by Ed Curtis, will open a national tour at the King's Theatre in Edinburgh on 3rd March. The producers are Paul Elliott, Michael Harrison, Festival City Theatres Trust and Churchill Theatre Bromley.

The 32nd London Handel Festival, marking the 250th anniversary of his death, runs from 23rd February to 14th April, with highlights including: a fully staged performance of Alessandro in collaboration with the Royal College of Music; the oratorios Theodora and Jephtha; and the premiere of 25 Brook Street, an oratorio by composers Mark Bowden, Larry Goves, Chris Mayo and Charlie Piper with a libretto by Helen Cooper, about Handel's writing of Jephtha; and the Bach St Matthew Passion. Events are mainly at St George's Church Hanover Square (best known as setting for the celebration of Alfred Doolittle's nuptials in My Fair Lady) plus the Craxton Studios, Foundling Museum, Grosvenor Chapel, Royal Academy of Music, Handel House Museum Royal College of Music, St Lawrence Little Stanmore and Wigmore Hall. Further information can be found on the LHF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Last year's Edinburgh Fringe hit musical Jet Set Go!, book and lyrics by Jake Brunger, music by Pippa Cleary, a comedy about the lives and loves of the cabin crew of a transatlantic airline, directed and choreographed by Luke Sheppard, will open at the Jermyn Street Theatre off Piccadilly on 2nd April. The producer is Take Note Theatre.

Francis Durbridge's Murder With Love, in which deceit, suspicion, blackmail and incrimination are woven into a web of crime involving an attempted murder, with Leslie Grantham, Jack Marsden, Neil Stacy and Marcus Hutton, will open a national tour at the Civic Theatre Darlington on 24th February. The producer is Ian Dickens Productions.

The winter season at New End Theatre in Hampstead includes Resident Alien, written and directed by Tim Fountain, with Bette Bourne reprising his performance as the 91 year old Quentin Crisp reflecting on life, in the East Village apartment in New York that has not been dusted for 18 years, currently playing; Michael Morpurgo's The Mozart Question, about a Jewish violinist in Nazi Germany, adapted by Simon Reade, performed by Andrew Bridgmont, directed by Julia McShane, from 3rd March, produced by Scamp Productions; G & I, a musical comedy by Anton Burge, with songs by Noel Coward, Cole Porter and George Gershwin, in which Gertrude Lawrence prepares for an ENSA tour during the Second World War, from 8th April, produced by Anne Pinnington; and Alan Balfour's The Hokey Cokey Man, a bioplay about Al Tabor, the bandleader and violinist who wrote The Hokey Cokey, from 20th May, produced by Music By Arrangement.

The Rumour Machine says: that the current Menier Chocolate Factory production of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music, with Hannah Waddingham, Alexander Hanson and Maureen Lipman, may transfer to the Garrick Theatre; and that Ramin Karimloo, who has played the Phantom in London, and Sierra Boggess, who has played Christine in Las Vegas, have been cast in Phantom: Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera, which is expected to open at the Adelphi Theatre and simultaneously at a Broadway Theatre yet to be announced in the autumn. The Rumour Machine grinds on.