News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th June 2008

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Royal Shakespeare Company will transfer three of its Stratford productions the to the Novello Theatre this winter. Hamlet, with David Tennant, Patrick Stewart, Pennie Downie, Mariah Gale and Oliver Ford Davies, directed by Gregory Doran, will open on 9th December; A Midsummer Night's Dream, with Andrea Harris, Peter de Jersey, Joe Dixon and Mark Hadfield, also directed by Doran, will open on 20th January; and The Taming Of The Shrew, with Michelle Gomez, Stephen Boxer, Amara Karan and Patrick Moy, directed by Conall Morrison, will open on 12th February. It has also been confirmed that Michelle Gomez and David Hargreaves will feature in Marina Carr's The Cordelia Dream, with echoes of King Lear, as two rival musicians question the hatred they have used to outdo each other in pursuit of art, directed by Selina Cartmell, opening on 8th January in the previously mentioned RSC season at Wilton's Music Hall in Wapping.

The opening festival at the 420 seater concert hall and 220 seater studio in the Kings Place development, between York Way and Battlebridge Basin on the Regent's Canal, at King's Cross, will take place between 1st to 5th October. It will comprise 100 concerts running from 9.30am to 11pm, featuring new residents the London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, together with the Endymion Ensemble, the Classical Opera Company, Peter Cropper, Jean Bernard Pommier, the Schubert Ensemble, Christopher Richter, Ian Burnside, Abram Wilson, Justin Adams and the F-IRE Collective, with the participation of organisations such as Royal Academy of Music, International Guitar Foundation, Society for the Promotion of New Music and London Chamber Music Society. Tickets for all the concerts are 4.50, or just 2.50 if booked online, in addition to which there are a number of free events in the atrium. The development also includes two art galleries, and a sculpture studio, together with restaurants and bars. Further information can be found on the King's Place web site, via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The autumn season at the Royal Court Theatre will include the world premiere of Christopher Shinn's Now Or Later, set on the eve of a presidential election, exploring the tension between liberalism and fundamentalism in American politics, with Eddie Redmayne, Domhnall Gleeson and Adam James, directed by Dominic Cooke, opening on 9th September; and the British premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney's Wig Out!, a story of two competing 'houses' of drag queens, and the loyalties and dreams which pull their members together and apart, also directed by Cooke, opening on 28th November.

In addition to the permanent displays at Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition there is an extensive selection of wood engravings by the artist June Crisfield Chapman on show until 5th October. The engravings are taken from literary themes or theatre characterisations, including characters from Shakespeare, Chaucer, Commedia dell-arte and ancient Greek plays. Subjects include characters from plays in this year's Globe Theatre season, including the lovers from A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Fool from King Lear and Falstaff from The Merry Wives Of Windsor. Alongside the engravings there is an opportunity to see the tools and boxwood blocks which Crisfield Chapman uses to achieve her dramatic images.

Buxton Festival, centred on the spectacular Opera House designed by Frank Matcham, running from 9th to 27th July, continues the twin themes of opera and literature. Opera highlights include new festival productions of Lortzing's The Poacher, directed by Patrick Mason; Handel's Samson, directed by Daniel Slater; a triple bill comprising by Holst's Savitri and The Wandering Scholar, and Vaughan Williams's Riders To The Sea, directed by Michael Barry; plus the New London Consort performing Purcell's Dido And Aeneas, directed by Jonathan Miller; the Watford Palace/Young Vic production of Kurt Weill's Street Scene, directed by John Fulljames; and the Le Chien qui chante Quebec/Taliesin Arts Centre production of John Metcalf and Larry Tremblay's A Chair In Love, directed by Keith Turnbull. The Literary Series boasts appearances by a variety of writers, broadcasters and personalities, including Antonia Fraser, Shirley Williams, Lynne Truss, Andrew Davies, Michael Billington, Katherine Whitehorn, Janet Suzman and Valerie Grove. Further information can be found on the Buxton Festival web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Ed Stoppard, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Charlotte Emmerson and Nick Caldecott will feature in On The Rocks, opening at Hampstead Theatre on 1st July; Simon Paisley and Patrick Godfrey will lead the cast in Timon Of Athens, opening at Shakespeare's Globe on 6th August; and Anna Chancellor, Tom Burke and Owen Teale will star in August Strindberg's Creditors, opening the Donmar Warehouse on 30th September.

The Shaw Theatre in Euston has announced cabaret appearances by further American performers. Veteran Judy Garland impersonator Jim Bailey will play from 5th to 7th September; Al Martino will perform on 22nd and 23rd September; and Ben Vereen will appear on 4th and 5th October. The Shaw will host Cinderella, with Britt Ekland and Dominic Littlewood, from 9th December to 3rd January, produced by Paul Tate Productions.

The Royal Opera House Collections catalogue and Performance Database are now online, as part of an ongoing project to make the ROH resources more widely available. Two collections have been selected for the launch of the website, the costume collection containing some 4,000 items, and the Frank Sharman Photographic Collection of dance photographs from the 1940s and 1950s. The site also provides an overview of the other collections housed at the ROH, from administrative records and production files, through libretti and music, and posters and programmes, to technical equipment and model sets, which will be added online in the future. The Performance Database reproduces the information found in the theatre's programmes, and is one of the most comprehensive databases in use by a performing arts company. Selected records are available now, and will also be added to on a regular basis. A further Highlights from ROH Collections section of the site provides a detailed look at selected treasures, recent acquisitions, and interesting items newly available online. Further information can be found on the ROHC web site, via the link from Information in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Live Theatre Newcastle production of Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, currently in a limited run at the National Theatre, will return in January, with a possible West End transfer to follow; that the Australian musical The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, adapted from the 1994 Australian film, about three drag queens on a road trip to Alice Springs, using existing disco songs, will open at the Palace Theatre next March; and the current Broadway musical Legally Blonde, adapted from the 2001 film about a cosmetics friendly sorority girl who goes to Harvard law school and beats the swats, will open at the Piccadilly Theatre, also in the spring. The Rumour Machine grinds on.