News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th September 2002

It is now confirmed that Gillian Anderson will make her West End debut with Roger Allam in What The Night Is For, a new play by American writer Michael Weller, opening at the Comedy Theatre on 27th November. A married woman meets her former (and now also married) lover, and their encounter provokes an examination of modern marriage and infidelity. The director is John Caird, and the producers are Act Productions and Sonia Friedman.

The National Theatre has announced the rest of its autumn season, which comprises the premieres of Christopher Hampton's The Talking Cure, with Ralph Fiennes, James Hazeldine and Jodhi May in the story of how the psychoanalyst Karl Jung used methods learned from 'rival theorist' Sigmund Freud to help a patient, directed by Howard Davies; Mappa Mundi by Shelagh Stephenson, with Ian Holm, Tim McInnerny and Lia Williams, about a terminally ill map collector who discovers that he may be related to both an 18th century plantation owner and a slave, directed by Bill Alexander; and Moira Buffini's Dinner, with Penny Downie, Nicholas Farrell and Harriet Walter, about a party to celebrating the publication of a book which turns into a dinner from hell, directed by Fiona Buffini - an extra play in the temporary Loft Theatre space. There will be two contrasting musicals, the previously announced Anything Goes, by Cole Porter, Guy Bolton and P G Wodehouse, directed by Trevor Nunn; and a concert staging of Stephen Sondheim's version of Aristophanes The Frogs, with book by Burt Shevelove.

The Society Of London Theatre is looking for 14 enthusiastic and knowledgeable theatregoers to join one of the judging panels for next year's Laurence Olivier Awards. Panellists will receive a pair of free tickets for all shows playing in the West End between 1st January and 31st December. There are four panels assessing Theatre, Opera, Dance and Affiliates (covering work at the Almeida, Greenwich, Hampstead, Lyric Hammersmith, Royal Court Upstairs, Tricycle and Young Vic). The Theatre panel is expected to attend about 60 performances (of which about 20 are musicals), Opera and Affiliates about 20 each, and Dance about 40. Applications can be made online on the SOLT web site, which can be found via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet. Alternatively there are leaflets in all West End theatres. The deadline for applications is 15th November.

On The Casting Couch: Peter Blythe, Laurence Fox, Rebecca Hall, Richard Johnson and James Saxon will join Brenda Blethyn in Bernard Shaw's Mrs Warren's Profession at the Strand Theatre on 10th October.

Oxford Stage company is staging a national tour of Terence Rattigan's After The Dance, in association with Salisbury Playhouse, where it opens on 3rd October. Unseen since its premiere, which was cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War, the play examines the frailties of aging Bright Young Things of the 1920's, as they face middle age and the uncertain political times of the 1930s. Dominic Dromgoole directs.

The Royal Shakespeare Company is returning to the Barbican on 29th January with Zubin Varla leading the cast in the premiere of a stage adaptation of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. It centres on two children who are born at the moment India became an independent nation and have magical powers, whose fates are inextricably linked when they are switched by a nurse at the hospital. This adaptation is based on an unfilmed screenplay by Rushdie, Simon Reade and director Tim Supple. It is presented in association with University of Michigan, and will run for five weeks before transferring first to Michigan, and then to the Apollo Theater in Harlem, before returning to undertake a UK regional tour.

Will Power Holdings, the company behind Shakespeare's World, the long planned scheme to build a theme park near Stratford-upon-Avon, will soon be making a formal planning application. It has now released architects drawings and a more detailed description of the proposed 200 acre attraction. The project will involve the creation of a full scale Elizabethan street, with buildings populated by people in period garb plying trades such as baking, meat smoking, cider making and shoeing horses. The surrounding area will have olde Englishe sports such as jousting, archery and sword fighting, plus stocks and ducking stool. Peasants in hovels will tend sheep and cattle, maintain orchards and beehives, and practice Medieval strip farming methods. There will be wandering players performing the Bard's works, but these are expected to be on the hoof in nugget form, rather than full length in a playhouse. The Royal Shakespeare Company, which has its own controversial redevelopment plans, has declined to be involved.

Glastonbury is a touring production which is a radical departure from the theatrical norm, the result of an unusual multidisciplinary alliance of people. Zoe Lewis play about 'drink, music, love, drugs and disappointment', which tells the stories of seven visitors to the famous festival, and includes live musical support from named bands, is to be performed in a marquee, with a set designed by artist Damian Hirst, and is directed by Keith Allen. It aims to replicate the experience of attending the festival, so before entering the marquee, audiences will pass through a series of sideshows, and food and drink stalls. Hopefully to make it really authentic they will neglect to provide toilets. The show features Kieran O'Brien, Chris Coghill, Paul Broughton and Allen himself, and the circus is initially planned open in Brighton on 8th October, and then visit Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham.

The Rumour Machine says: that Alfred Molina may play Archie Rice in John Osbourne's The Entertainer at the Royal Court, directed by Ian Rickson; that Antonio Pappano, the Royal Opera House's new musical director, has indicated that the pursuit of 'inclusivity' may see Covent Garden stage its first non opera production, possibly Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd; and that American provocateur Michael Moore's first live one man show, which was to have launched on the Edinburgh Fringe, may receive its premiere in London soon. The Rumour Machine grinds on.