News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th July 2001

The Broadway production of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate, directed by Michael Blakemore, opens at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 30th October. Tony Award nominees Marin Mazzie and Michael Berresse from the New York company will be joined by fellow American Brent Barrett, and a fourth as yet un-named American, to head the London cast.

The much travelled production of Fame begins to look as though it is "gonna live forever". It will return to its original home at the Cambridge Theatre on 20th September, following the demise of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Beautiful Game. It was due to end its fourth West End run at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 8th September. The stage version, with book by Jose Fernandez, music by Steve Margoshes, and lyrics by Jacques Levy, tells the story of the "next generation" at the New York High School of Performing Arts after those featured in the film and television series. Karen Bruce is the director.

The Inspector is also to call again, as Stephen Daldry's award winning production of J B Priestley's An Inspector Calls returns to the West End at the Playhouse Theatre on 20th September. The 1991 National Theatre production transferred to the Aldwych Theatre, and then toured, before arriving at the Garrick Theatre, where it ran until last April. The radical expressionist interpretation of Priestley marked a significant milestone in Daldry's career.

First seen in London two years ago at the Riverside Studios, as part of the Heads Up Australia Festival, Cloudstreet will visit the National Theatre from 6th to 22nd September. The Company B Belvoir and Black Swan Theatre production, adapted from Tim Winton's novel by Nick Enright and Justin Monjo, charts the story of two families over a twenty year period as they share a house at number 1 Cloud Street. Neil Armfield directs.

The National Theatre is hosting an exhibition Beyond Time And Space: Contemporary Japanese Theatre Design For Shakespeare in the Lyttleton foyer as part of the Japan 2001 festival. Set models, production photographs and costumes from drama, opera and dance productions (sometimes radical adaptations) staged over the last decade, celebrate the skilled craftsmanship of members of the Theatre Designers Society of Japan. The exhibition continues until 18th August. Stage By Stage is a permanent exhibition in the Olivier circle gallery, which tells the National's story, from the first proposals in 1848, through ideas for buildings at various locations and its final construction, up to the present day, with nearly 200 photographs, plans and illustrations. The National's current Fourth Wall series of night time images projected on to the outside of the Lyttelton flytower, includes costume designs by Erte.

After the runaway success of The Producers, the recent trickle of films being turned into Broadway musicals has grown to a flood. Producers Fran and Berry Weissler are working on an adaptation of Elia Kazan's 1957 film A Face In The Crowd, with book (and prospective direction) by Walter Bobbie, and music and lyrics by Don Schlitz. The story concerns a humble 'singing vagabond' who becomes a television personality, and then changes into a cynical power hungry egotist - even more relevant today than 50 years ago.

The Market Theatre Johannesburg production of The Island, which enjoyed two sell out seasons at the National Theatre last year, is to return to London, opening at the Old Vic on 14th January. Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona's 1973 play is based on the experiences of inmates of Robben Island, South Africa's maximum security prison. Performers Kani and Ntshona and director Fugard have won a number of international awards for the work, including Tonys for both actors. The season will be presented by Lee Menzies. There is a link to the Market Theatre web site from the International Venues section of Theatrenet.

On The Road: The current West End production of Kander and Ebb's Chicago will open a national tour at the Opera House Manchester on 14th September, starring John Altman, Jane Fowler and Amra-Faye Wright; the National Theatre production of Yasmina Reza's Life X 3, directed by Matthew Warchus, will start a major UK tour at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 30th August, with Serena Evans, David Haig, Belinda Lang and David Yelland; Michael Blakemore's recent National Theatre production of Michael Frayn's Copenhagen embarks on a nationwide tour at Oxford Playhouse on 14th August, featuring Anna Carteret, Alexander Hanson and David Horovitch; and a new production of Tom Stoppard's comedy The Real Thing, recently revived in both London and New York, starts a regional tour at Bristol Old Vic on 7th September, with Neil Pearson, directed by Alan Strachan.

The London Pinterfest looks like continuing, with the Gate Theatre Dublin production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming aiming for the West End in September, following an appearance as part of New York's Pinter Festival. It stars Ian Holm and Lia Williams, and is directed by Robin Lefevre. The action takes place at a "meet the in-laws" occasion with a typically Pinteresque family. Holm was in Peter Hall's original Royal Shakespeare Company production in 1965.

The Three Choirs Festival, which this year rests at Gloucester from 18th to 25th August, takes British music as its theme. Among the pieces to be performed will be Vaughan Williams The Fantasia On A Theme Of Thomas Tallis, and A Lark Ascending; Elgar's Symphony No 2 and The Apostles; Delius A Mass of Life; Handel's Messiah; and Walton's Belshazzar's Feast. New works will include the specially commissioned Urbs Beata by John Sanders. Full details can be found on the Three Choirs Festival web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Angela Jolie will make her stage debut playing Ophelia in a London fringe production of Hamlet, directed by her brother James Voight; that We Will Rock You, Ben Elton's Mamma Mia! style Queen show will open at the Dominion in January; and that the much trailed production of Tennessee Williams Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, with Brendan Fraser and Francis O'Connor, directed by Anthony Page, will arrive at the Lyric Theatre in late September. The Rumour Machine grinds on.