News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th June 2003

Sadly once again, the promise held out by the substantial number of nominations for British talent in this year's Tony Awards wasn't quite realised in the number of winners. Vanessa Redgrave won Best Actress for Long Day's Journey Into Night, which also took Best Play Revival and Best Actor for Brian Dennehy. Er, and that's it. Nine, directed by David Leveaux, won Best Musical Revival, with Jane Krakowski taking Best Featured Actress. The night belonged to Hairspray, which won eight awards, including Best Musical. The full list of winners can be found on the Tony Awards web site via the link from the New York section of TheatreNet.

It's Official 1! As previously forecast here, Edward Hall's Propeller Theatre company's all male production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is to receive a West End showing, at the Comedy Theatre from 7th August. The cast comprises Tony Bell, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, Richard Clothier, Emilio Doorgasingh, Matt Flynn, Robert Hands, Vince Leigh, Jonathan McGuiness, Chris Myles, Simon Scardifield, Guy Williams and Jules Werner. The show originated at the Watermill Theatre Newbury in February, and is presented by the Ambassador Theatre Group.

English National Opera has announced its autumn season, which will be performed at the Barbican Centre, while the 41m restoration programme at the Coliseum is completed in time for its centenary next year. The season comprises a new production of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, directed by Samuel West making his opera debut; and a revival of David McVicar's production of Benjamin Britten's The Rape Of Lucretia, with Sarah Connolly and Christopher Maltman, both in the Barbican Theatre. There will also be concert performances of Massenet's Thais, with Elizabeth Futral and Richard Zeller; ENO's first performances of Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi, with Sarah Connolly and Dina Kuznetzova, and Twilight Of The Gods, the completion of Wagner's Ring Cycle in the Barbican Hall. ENO will also present a semi-staged version of Prokofiev's War And Peace as part of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on 6th September.

With 21,594 performances, of 1,541 shows, in 207 venues, involving 668 companies, and 12,940 performers, the 57th Edinburgh Festival Fringe, running from 3rd to 25th August, is bigger than ever, retaining its position as the world's largest arts festival. As usual, new work plays a significant part, and 41% of the shows are premieres - 30% world, 4% European and 7% UK. The really good news is that 10% of the shows are free. Highlights will include: the premiere of Gregory Burke's The Straits; Stephen Landrigan's adaptation of V S Napaul's Miguel Street; Bob Kingdom's Dylan Thomas - Return Journey, directed by Anthony Hopkins; Jo Brand in Mental, a new play about the line between insanity and genius; and Reginald Rose's 12 Angry Men starring, Bill Bailey, David Calvitto Kevin Eldon Stephen Frost, Steve Furst, Jeff Green Owen O'Neill and Phil Nichol. Among the wackier venues, dance company Materiali Resistenti will perform under 16,000 litres of cascading water in the Old College Quad; Semper Fi will play Ladies And Gents in a public toilet; Alfie Joey will entertain in a Ford Escort; No Room On Top will take place on a double-decker bus; Katy Slater will play Toast on a stepladder; and the company 5065 will present their comedy, show and film in a lift in the Pleasance courtyard. Further information and online booking can be found on the Edinburgh Fringe web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

It's Official 2! As previously forecast here, Rupert Graves and Rachel Stirling will star in Oscar Wilde's A Woman Of No Importance, directed by Adrian Noble, opening at the Haymarket Theatre in September. The producers are Theatre Royal Haymarket and Stanhope Productions.

The Shared Experience production of After Mrs Rochester, written and directed by Polly Teale, which was seen recently at the Lyric Hammersmith, will transfer to the Duke of York's Theatre from 22nd July. The play is about the life and travels of Jean Rhys, the author of Wide Sargasso Sea, the book that fills in the back story of Mrs Rochester, the mad woman in the attic in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Diana Quick and Madeleine Potter share the role of Jean Rhys, and the company also includes David Annen, Sarah Ball, Syan Blake, Hattie Ladbury, Amy Marston and Simon Thorp. It will be presented by the Ambassador Theatre Group and Maidstone Productions.

Theatre Set-Up, the company that takes Shakespeare outdoors to historic settings across the country, is this year performing The Two Gentlemen Of Verona in 18th century costume, with music from Mozart's operas played on the harp. The company comprises Morag Brownlie, Terry Jermyn, Angela Laverick, Sam Laydon, James Mitchell, Jim Morley and David Reakes. Now in its 27th season, working in association with English Heritage, The National Trust, and public and private stately homes, gardens and castles, performances during June, July and August are at diverse venues, including The Orangery at Kew Gardens, Alnwick Castle and The Lost Gardens Of Helligan.

The Young Vic's autumn season will include a radical Icelandic interpretation of Romeo And Juliet, using aerial and an acrobatic skills, co-produced with Theatre Vosturport in Reykjavik, from 1st to 25th October. The Christmas show will be the premiere of Skelig, adapted from his children's novel by David Almond, directed by Trevor Nunn, playing from 3rd December. It is the story of a troubled child who finds a mysterious man-owl-angel in the garage when his family moves into a run down house, with whose help he begins to take control of his life.

And Finally . . . Wayne Sleep is to take over the role of the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Is this an effort to give the children more of a chance to get away - or a double bluff that they will think he's one of them?