News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th April 2006

Shakespeare's birthday will again receive a double celebration this year. On Saturday 22nd April Shakespeare's Globe will stage its traditional Sonnet Walks, during which twelve sonneteers will entertain walkers along routes to Bankside. Participants have a choice of two routes through Tudor London, starting from either Westminster or Shoreditch, and on arrival, a guided tour of the theatre is included. Tours leave every 15 minutes from 10am to 12.45pm. On Sunday 23rd April Shakespeare's Globe will be thrown open to the public from 10am to 4pm, with Roman side shows and workshops (in honour of this year's Roman season of plays), guided tours, and the opportunity for members of the public to perform their favourite Shakespeare speech from the stage.

On Saturday 22nd April the Royal Shakespeare Company will launch its Complete Works Festival in Stratford upon Avon. On Sunday 23rd April there will be an open day from 11am to 6pm, with free events, talks, demonstrations and opportunities to get creatively involved with company members. Events for which there will be a charge will include: In Conversation - including Janet Suzman and Harriet Walter on playing Cleopatra, Brian and his son Alan Cox on acting in film and on stage, and Judi Dench on life and art; Theatre Surgeries - about different aspects of theatre for those interested in pursuing it as a career; Masterclasses - including Tim Supple, Patrick Stewart and John Barton; and Star Tours - a comprehensive backstage tour, culminating in tea and cake in the Green Room with a member of the company.

The 59th Aldburgh Festival, running from 9th to 25th June features poetry and the music of Stravinsky. Among the highlights will be a production of Stravinsky's The Rakes Progress, featuring soloists from the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme and chorus from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, directed by Neil Bartlett; the world premiere of Raymond Yiu's The Original Chinese Conjurer, with libretto by magician Lee Warren, telling the true story of magician William Robinson, directed by Martin Duncan; Emily Hall's Sante, with text by Kit Peel, a story of love and betrayal set in the weeks leading up to the Rwandan genocide, directed by Tim Supple; settings of W H Auden's poems, from Britten to a new composition by Simon Bainbridge; settings of Edith Sitwell's poems, from Walton to a new composition by Colin Matthews; and Britten and Stravinsky programmes. As well as performances, there will be films, workshops, lectures, masterclasses, walks and other outdoor events.

The current touring production of the musical Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, with Dave Willetts and Shona Lindsay, directed by Maurice Lane, with choreography by Adrian Allsop, will transfer to the Haymarket Theatre from 10th August. In 1850s Oregon, when a rancher brings his new wife home, she finds he has six uncouth younger brothers (all looking for wives) who she endeavours to reform. The stage adaptation of the 1954 film has book by David Landay, music by Gene De Paul and lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The producers are Martin Dodd and Peter Frosdick for UK Productions.

The Tower of London is to host a second music festival, taking place on a specially designed stage in the moat, from 28th June to 14th July. However, it has abandoned last year's mix of high and low culture, and is just settling for the low, with opera replaced by The Pet Shop Boys. Other artists taking part include: Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, James Brown, Dianne Warwick, Dr John and Randy Newman, Pink Martine, Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy, Madeleine Peyroux, Al Jarreau and Jamie Cullum. Glyndebourne style, audiences are invited to picnic in the moat before the events. Further information can be found on the TLFM web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

New York TheatreNet: According to a new study by The League of American Theatres and Producers, Broadway's economic impact on New York City reached $4.8bn during the 2004-05 season, almost back to the pre 11th September 2001 level. This figure is broken down into three categories. Visitor Spending (money spent on hotels, restaurants and shopping by people who visit New York specifically to take in Broadway shows) was $3.06bn. Show Expenses (money spent to produce and run Broadway shows) totalled $1.7bn. Theatre Expenses (money spent to maintain and renovate Broadway theatres) were $17.6m. 45,000 full time jobs depended upon Broadway. There were 39 new productions, the second highest in recorded history, which cost an all time high of $165.2m. The number of playing weeks was 1,494, the second highest ever, and total attendances were 11.53m, the third highest.

Hatstand Opera, the 'go-anywhere' opera cabaret company, is definitely reaching the parts others cannot reach. Its Opera Can Be Murder show, a tongue in cheek look at how opera dispatches its heroes and villains, will be touring the Channel Islands during May - including Sark and Alderney. The company has also gone global thanks to Podopera, the first podcast by a professional opera company anywhere in the world, with news and interviews about the world of opera. Archive issues include interviews with Toni Nunn, Zoe Barnes and Katarina Karneus. Further information and instructions can be found on the HO web site via the link from Opera & Dance in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Alan Parker is in negotiation to make a film version of Willy Russell's long running musical Blood Brothers; that the next Hollywood star vehicle to hit the West End will be Sam Shepard's Fool For Love, a two hander set in a motel room uncovering dark secrets, directed by Lindsay Posner in June; that Rufus Norris will direct a new West End production of Kander and Ebb's musical Cabaret in September, with Bill Kenwright producing; and that Simon Mendes da Costa's feuding family comedy Losing Louis will receive its American premiere in the autumn, at Manhattan Theatre Club, directed by Jerry Zaks. The Rumour Machine grinds on.