News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th May 2005

Once again there is a strong showing of British talent in this year's Tony Awards nominations. They are led by 14 nominations for Eric Idle's Monty Python musical Spamalot, including Tim Curry and Hank Azaria going head to head for Best Actor Musical (Leading); 5 for Martin McDonagh's The Pillowman, including Best Play and Best Director (Play): John Crowley; 4 for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, including Best Scenic Design: Anthony Ward and Best Lighting Design: Mark Henderson; and Michael Frayn's Democracy Best Play. Other British interest includes Special Theatrical Event: Dame Edna: Back With A Vengeance! and Best Play (Revival): Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf , which was directed by Antony Page. The big American hitters are the musicals Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and The Light In The Piazza with 11 nominations each. The winners will be announced at the 59th Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall on 5th June, hosted by Hugh Jackman. The full list of nominees and further information can be found on the Tony Awards web site via the link from NewYork TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Kevin Spacey will play Richard II, directed by Trevor Nunn, opening at the Old Vic Theatre on 13th September; to be followed by Ian McKellen in the return of Aladdin, directed by Sean Mathias, opening on 6th December.

Alan Ayckbourn's 69th play Improbable Fiction, with Eileen Battye, Terence Booth, John Branwell, Laura Doddington, Becky Hindley, Giles New and Clare Swinburne will receive its premiere on 26th May, at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. It is set in a local writers circle, and promises to do for would be authors, what A Chorus Of Disapproval did for amateur dramatics. This will be followed on 30th June by the premiere of Playing God, the first stage comedy by television writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, with David Sibley, David Cardy, Becky Hindley and Clare Swinburne, directed by Laurie Sansom. A surprise announcement at dinner by a rock'n'roll legend to his travel writer wife, his best friend, and his tough businesswoman wife, changes their lives forever.

Tintin will make his British stage debut at the Barbican Theatre on 14th December, in the world premiere of a play by David Greig and Rufus Norris (who will also direct), which is a co-production by the Barbican and the Young Vic. It will be based on Herge's story Tintin In Tibet, in which the boy journalist (and second most famous Belgian) attempts to rescue his friend Chang after a plane crash in the Himalayas.

Stephen Frost, Andy Smart, Steve Steen, Jim Sweeney, and Richard Vranch have embarked on a national one nighter tour as The Improvisers, joined variously by guests Phil Jupitus, Paul Merton, Muke McShane and Josie Lawrence. Dates run through to September (with August off for good behaviour and the Edinburgh Fringe). The producer is ISI Entertainment.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, The Genius Of Ray Charles, a compilation show featuring music associated with the singer, pianist and composer, will open a season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 21st June. The show premiered regional casino in America last month, and six singers from the original company will perform in London. It is directed and choreographed by Gary Lloyd and presented by Spirit of the Dance Productions.

Concerts In Churches's summer series of events in churches across the country, from Tewkesbury Abbey to Beverley Minster, runs from 26th May to 11th August. Performers such as Evelyn Glennie, Cleo Laine and John Dankworth, The King's Singers, Felicity Lott and Thomas Allen, Julian Lloyd Webber, Nicola Benedetti and Willard White, present a wide range of music, from English medieval to contemporary jazz. Whenever possible the performers meet with members of the audience after the concert. Further information can be found on the CIC web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

This year's summer season at Covent Garden, from 18th July to 6th August, will feature the Kirov Opera and Ballet. The ballet programme sees the return of Uliana Lopatkina in Swan Lake, Lavrovsky's Romeo And Juliet, Petipa's La Bayadere, a Forsythe quadruple bill and a new Balanchine triple bill; while the opera will perform Mussogsky's Boris Godunov and Khovanshchina, and Puccini's Turandot.

Dancing In The Streets, the Motown compilation show, which has toured extensively, directed by Keith Strachan and choreographed by Carole Todd, will open at the Cambridge Theatre on 19th July. The producer is Flying Music.

The Rumour Machine says: that Cameron Mackintosh will co-produce the West End production of the Tony Award winning musical Avenue Q, a kind of adult Sesame Street with a mixture of real and puppet performers, next spring; that Mackintosh may rename the Albery Theatre after Noel Coward, when the takes over the lease later this year; that Andrew Lloyd Webber is hoping film actress Scarlett Johansson will star in his long talked of West End production of The Sound Of Music, to be directed by Trevor Nunn; and that the Roundabout Theatre Company production of Reginald Rose's Twelve Angry Men, which ends its Broadway run this week, will transfer to London in the autumn of next year, courtesy of Bill Kenwright. The Rumour Machine grinds on.