Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Billy Zane and Claire Bloom will star in the British premiere of Richard Alfieri's Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks, directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman, with dances staged by Craig Revel Horwood, opening at the Haymarket Theatre on 29th November. It is the story of the unlikely relationship that develops when a prudish Florida retiree signs up for dance lessons with cynical and equally lonely tutor - he knows all the dance moves, but she can teach him about life. The producers are TRH Productions and EntPro Plays Inc.
The Royal and Derngate Theatres in Northampton are about to reopen following a £15m refurbishment programme, by architects Arts Team. This has seen the restoration of the Royal, designed by the great architect C J Phipps in 1884, and an upgrade of the multipurpose Derngate, built in 1983, together with a complete remodelling and extension of their foyers into one shared space, with a new cafe bar and box office. There is also a new rehearsal room, workshop, and education performance area. The Royal will reopen with the musical Follies, book by James Goldman, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, directed by Laurie Sansom, with choreography by Nick Winston, on 20th October, taking advantage of having the builders in, as it is set in a theatre festooned with scaffolding. This will be followed by Pinocchio, with live and puppet performers, directed by Lu Kemp, opening on 5th December; Twelfth Night, opening on 26th January and Sarah Woods's Soap, a comedy mixing reality and fantasy, opening on 2nd March, both directed by Laurie Sansom. The Derngate will reopen with Dick Whittington, featuring Julian Clary, on 3rd December. The official reopening, Return & Discover, a weekend of free performances, activities and tours of the building, will take place on 11th and 12th November.
Neve Campbell, Kristen Johnston, Michael McKean and Cillian Murphy will star in the European premiere of John Kolvenbach's Love Song, directed by John Crowley, opening at the New Ambassadors Theatre on 4th December. The off beat romantic comedy is the familiar story of the arrival of a stranger who turns the world of the leading character upside down. The producers are Sonia Friedman Productions, Tulchin/Bartner Productions and Bob Boyett.
The autumn season at the Soho Theatre will include an Asian Women Talk Back season, whose main features will be Amber Lone's Deadeye, about family loyalties, individual values and freedom of choice, opening on 14th November, and 20/20, collection of snippets from 20 writers woven together with sound and music to create a vocal tapestry, opening on 17th November, both directed by Janet Steele; Mick Gordon and A C Grayling's On Religion, a contemplation on the issues of faith and religion, opening on 28th November; and daytime performances of That Pesky Rat, a contemporary puppet musical for young children about a street rat looking for an owner, based on the books of Lauren Child, adapted and directed by Jonathan Lloyd, with music by Kenny Mellman, and puppets by Talk To The Hand, opening on 3rd December.
New York TheatreNet: The names of this year's thespians to be inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in New York have been announced. They are actors Patti LuPone, George Hearn and Elizabeth Wilson, playwright Brian Friel, and designers Willa Kim and Eugene Lee, with playwrights Wendy Wasserstein and August Wilson inducted posthumously. The 36th annual ceremony will be held at the Gershwin Theatre on 29th January. The Hall of Fame was created in 1973 to honour performers and creatives who have made a lasting impression in American theatre. To be eligible for induction, a candidate must have a career that spans twenty five years, with at least five major stage credits. They are chosen by 350 voting members of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Theatre Critics Association. Membership is marked by a plaque located in the North Rotunda in the lobby of the Gershwin Theatre.
It's Official! As previously forecast here, Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths will star in Peter Shaffer's Equus, directed by Thea Sharrock, opening at the Gielgud Theatre on 27th February. The play is a series of sessions in which a psychiatrist tries to discover why a stable boy blinded six horses. The producers are David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers.
The autumn season at the Unicorn Theatre for Children at London Bridge includes the CTC Theatre production of Leonardo, which tells the life story of Leonardo Da Vinci as a working machine is built, created by Chris Connaughton, Paul Harmon and Joseph Harriott; The Mouse Queen, a puppet musical from the Little Angel Theatre, based on several of Aesop's fables, adapted by Ben Glasstone and Tim Kane, directed by Steve Tiplady, with puppets by Peter O'Rourke; the Ajtc theatre company production of Mike Kenny's The Gardener, a tale about new siblings, grandparents, growing and changing, with Ian Armstrong and Mick Jasper, directed by Rosamunde Hutt; and the return of Journey To The River Sea, adapted by Carl Miller from Eva Ibbotson's novel about an orphaned London schoolgirl's journey to Brazil and up the Amazon, also directed by Rosamunde Hutt, with choreography by Jeanefer Jean-Charles.
The Arts Theatre will reopen under new management on 3rd November with Paul Sellars's Edinburgh Fringe hit 2 Graves, with Jonathan Moore, directed by Yvonne McDevitt. The modern verse black comic drama is a tale of murder, revenge and retribution set in the East End underworld. The producer is Andy Jordan Productions. There will also be late night performances of two other Edinburgh Fringe shows: The Pool, a day in the life of a Liverpool bookies, written by and featuring James Brough and Helen Elizabeth, from 19th November, and My Polish Roots, a multimedia show in which Karola Gajda delves into her Polish/Yorkshire background while cooking soup, from 22nd November. The refurbishment of the building by the new lessees Jack in the Box Theatres includes the installation of a recording studio, and the conversion of the basement bar into a performance space, with afternoon events during the week and a weekend comedy club.
The Rumour Machine says: that the current Old Vic production of A Moon For The Misbegotten, with Kevin Spacey and Eve Best, will transfer to Broadway next autumn; and that the long running Off Broadway show Menopause The Musical (the clue to the content is in the title) will receive its British premiere next March. The Rumour Machine grinds on.