News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th July 2007

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the tenth Kids Week In The West End, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience, with thousands of free tickets and special events. Once again this year it has double the fun, as it is extended to a fortnight, running from 17th to 31st August. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to over 30 West End shows, with up to two additional children at half price. Over 40 accompanying events will be taking place during the two weeks, including backstage tours, workshops, classes, storytelling and 'meet the cast' opportunities, plus special activities the under 5s. There are also freebies and discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages. Further information can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link opposite.

The Theatre Royal Haymarket is delving back into its 186 year history to become a producing theatre again, with its first season under the artistic direction of Jonathan Kent. This will comprise William Wycherley's Restoration comedy The Country Wife, with Toby Stephens, Liz Crowther, Fiona Glascott, David Haig and Patricia Hodge, opening on 9th October; Edward Bond's The Sea, a blend of farce, social satire and poetic tragedy set in an Edwardian seaside village, with Eileen Atkins, David Haig and Marcia Warren, opening on 23rd January; and the world premiere of Marguerite, a musical based on Alexandre Dumas's La Dame Aux Camellias, set in Paris during the German occupation in the Second World War, with music by Michael Legrand, book by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, and English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer from the original French lyrics by Boublil, starring Ruthie Henshall, opening on 20th May. The Haymarket Masterclass scheme will also be involved in the venture, with new apprenticships offering places working alongside the production team.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Desperately Seeking Susan, Peter Michael Marino's stage musical adaptation of the 1985 film, featuring the greatest hits of Blondie, with Emma Williams and Kelly Price, directed by Angus Jackson, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, will receive its world premiere at the Novello Theatre on 15th November. It is a complex story in which an amnesiac New Jersey housewife thinks she is the eponymous free spirit who is being sought by the mob in Manhattan. The producers are Susan Gallin, Ron Kastner, Mark Rubinstein and Old Vic Productions.

New York TheatreNet: According to figures released by The League of American Theatres and Producers, paid attendance for the 2006/2007 Broadway theatre season, which ended on 27th May, was the highest ever, up 2.6% from the previous season. 12.31m people attended Broadway shows, up from 12m, while grosses increased by 8.9% to an all time record of $939m, up from $861m the season before. In 2006/2007 there were 35 new productions: 12 new musicals, 11 new plays, 5 musical revivals and 7 play revivals, which was down from 39 the previous season. The number of playing weeks (the sum total of all shows multiplied by the number of weeks each show played) was the second highest on record at 1,509 weeks. The record was the 2002/2003 season with 1,544 weeks. Strong attendance by tourists continued to be a major factor in Broadway's success, with domestic tourists accounting for more than 5m tickets, and international visitors more than 1.3m tickets. Broadway contributes almost $5bn to New York City's economy, and supports 45,000 full time equivalent jobs.

The autumn season at Hampstead Theatre will include the premieres of Robin Soans's Life After Scandal, a piece of verbatim theatre based on interviews with victims of scandal and press intrusion, opening on 20th September; Antony Sher's The Giant, about Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Machiavelli, and the competition for the commission to carve a statue of David, with Roger Allam, directed by Gregory Doran, opening on 1st November; Penny Gold's The President's Holiday, telling the story of how Mikhail Gorbachev and family were taken captive and cut off from the world while on vacation, opening on 17th January; and Tracy Ann Oberman and Diane Samuels's 3 Sisters On Hope Street, which relocates the story of Chekhov's Three Sisters among a Jewish family in Liverpool in 1946, opening on 21st February.

Principal Theatre Company will be staging outdoor performances of Twelfth Night, directed by Christopher Geelan, at Forty Hall, in Enfield north London, from 17th to 28th July, and Coram's Fields, in Guilford Street, Bloomsbury, from 2nd to 18th August.

The Pitlochry Festival Theatre season, which runs until 20th October, continues its unique repertoire system of 'stay 6 days see 6 plays'. It includes two plays examining different aspects of 'Scottishness': Robert McLellan's The Flouers o Edinburgh, a raucous classic comedy about the Union of 1707, the Scottish Enlightenment and the battle between the Scots and English tongues, directed by Richard Baron; and Stephen Greenhorn's Passing Places, a 'road movie for the stage' detailing a comic journey through the vagaries of contemporary Scottish identity, directed by Ken Alexander. The company includes Martyn James, Jacqueline Dutoit, Robin Harvey Edwards, Callum O'Neill, Steven Rae, Crawford Logan and Alan Steele.

TightRope will stage a promenade production Daniel Whelan's A Harlot's Progress, inspired by Hogarth's series of paintings and engravings of 18th century low life, with Anna Blades, Leila Raoufi, Sophie Steel, Jamie Baughan, Cassie Raine, Kirsty Stuart, directed by Gemma Johnson, in Montague Square, in Bankside, between Shakespeare's Globe and Borough Market, from 23rd July to 11th August.

The autumn season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds will include a new adaptation of Cervantes's Don Quixote, by Colin Teevan and Pablo Ley, directed by Josep Galindo, from 22nd September; a new staging of Brief Encounter, David Lean's 1945 film based on the Noel Coward play Still Life, which explores betrayal and adultery through three separate love stories set in a railway station, adapted and directed by Emma Rice, from 24th October, a co production with Kneehigh Theatre and Birmingham Repertory Theatre; the return of the 2004 production of C S Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, adapted by Adrian Mitchell, directed by Ian Brown, with choreography by Ann Yee, from 24th November; a new version of Beauty And The Beast, by Mike Kenny, directed by Gail McIntyre, from 6th December; and Louise Page's Salonika, an exploration of the universal issues of love, directed by Nikolai Foster, from 18th January.