News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th January 2005

The Royal Shakespeare Company production of the one man show Tynan, with Corin Redgrave as the drama critic Kenneth Tynan, will transfer to the Arts Theatre on 21st February, for a six week season. The show is based on the book The Diaries of Kenneth Tynan, edited by John Lahr, adapted by Richard Nelson with Colin Chambers. It is directed by Nelson, and presented by the Arts Theatre and Fiery Angel. The show will play 9pm performances, alongside Becky Mode's Fully Committed, which continues at 7.30pm. This will see the RSC back in London with a vengeance, with shows at four theatres simultaneously: Albery, Playhouse, Soho and Arts.

The New York Musical Theatre Festival, a celebration of the next generation of musical theatre writers and their work, is accepting submissions for this year's Festival, which will run from 12th September to 2nd October. Writers are invited to submit 'production ready' musicals to the Festival's Next Link Project, from which a jury of theatre professionals will choose 18 shows to be performed. The 2004 Festival saw over 23,000 people attending 141 different events in 26 performance venues across the city. It led to commercial options or productions for seven shows, including an Off Broadway run of Altar Boyz, which opens at Dodger Stages in March. Further information and an application form can be found on the NYMF web site via the link from NewYorkTheatreNet.

Eve Ensler's 'documentary' The Vagina Monologues will open a six week season at Wyndham's Theatre on 7th April. The three strong cast, which will include Sharon Osbourne, will be directed by Irena Brown. It will be presented by Mark Goucher and Sally Greene.

The two major regional theatre operators and producers, ClearChannel Entertainment and the Ambassador Theatre Group, have formed a joint company, First Family Entertainment, to produce pantomimes in their venues. This pitches them against Qdos, the UK's most prolific pantomime production company, which currently provides the shows in most of their theatres. FFE aims to start by producing nine 'high quality' pantomimes next Christmas, which will feature performers and directors 'not usually associated with the genre' (the inference being that they want real actors in the shows instead of reality TV 'stars'). Five of the venues that will house these are currently featuring Qdos pantomimes, representing a fifth of its output.

Richard Bremmer, Christopher Cazenove and Hywel Simons star in Bryony Lavery's new adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, which opens a prospective pre West End tour at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley on 27th January. The new version relocates the story to a contemporary setting. It is presented by the Touring Consortium.

The ever enterprising Little Angel Theatre, the home of British puppetry, is to stage the first production in this country of the traditional Turkish show Karagoz in March. Described as Turkey's version of Punch And Judy, it will feature Ronnie Le Drew, Britain's foremost puppeteer (the man who gave life to Zippy), and will be directed by the Little Angel's artistic director Steve Tiplady.

The Theatre Museum is celebrating the centenary of J M Barrie's boy who wouldn't grow up with Peter Pan: 100 Years Old And Still Flying. An exhibition charts the history of stage presentations of the story, and the daily costume workshops and make up demonstrations will feature its characters. So if you always wanted to be a fairy, now's your chance.

The spring season at the Peacock Theatre will include visits by the Australian physical theatre duo The Umbilical Brothers; Nihon Buyo, whose traditional form of Japanese dance dates back to the 8th century; Singapore Dance Theatre, which has a repertoire encompassing classical, modern and Asian dance; and a production of E Nesbit's

The Railway Children, adapted by Mary Elliott Nelson, directed by Andrew Breakwell, complete with a steam train.

On Broadway: Following the death of James H Binger, chairman and founder of Jujamcyn Theatres, New York's third largest theatre chain, the company's president Rocco Landesman is to buy the company. The group comprises the Virginia, Al Hirschfeld, Walter Kerr, Eugene O'Neill and St James - where the company is based, and The Producers is currently running. Landesman will become a rare thing in commercial New York theatre, a landlord who is also a creative producer. Jujamcyn derives its name from the names of James and Virginia Binger's children, Ju(dith), Jam(es), and Cyn(thia). The Bingers launched the company in the 1970s, when Virginia's father gave them two theatres he had acquired twenty years earlier.

The Open Air Theatre has announced this year's season, which runs from 6th June to 10th September, and comprises: Twelfth Night, directed by Timothy Sheader; Cymbeline, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh; a new adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta HMS Pinafore, by Herbert Appleman, directed by Ian Talbot; and the return of last year's daytime children's play The Wind In The Willows, adapted from Kenneth Grahame's classic by David Conville and David Gooderson, with music by Carl Davis, directed by Laura Baggeley. Last season's production of High Society, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter, and book by Arthur Kopit, featuring Graham Bickley, Susie Blake, Ria Jones, Katherine Kingsley and Paul Robinson, directed by Ian Talbot, continues on tour until June.

Wilson +Wilson, a company that specialises in site specific events, will be staging Mulgrave, written by Amanda Dolton, with music by Hugh Nankivell, co created by Louise Ann Wilson and Wils Wilson, in the Mulgrave Woods at Lythe in North Yorkshire, from 11th June to 3rd July. Audiences will be led on a four mile journey through the woods, sometimes on foot, sometimes on various modes of transport, where live performance, installations and music inspired by the history of the area will unfold around them. They will be invited to enter environments - from forester's huts to the ruins of Mulgrave Old Castle - that will combine visual art, music, sound and performance. If you go down to the woods today . . .

The Rumour Machine says: that the landmark musical A Chorus Line (Broadway's longest runner until Andrew Lloyd Webber came along) will return to the Great White Way in the autumn of next year, with original co-choreographer Bob Avian recreating Michael Bennett's staging; and that novelist Zadie Smith is working on a musical with her poet husband Nick Laird, about Franz Kafka, focusing on three influential women in his life, which she wants to see playing at the National Theatre starring Nathan Lane or Anthony Sher! The Rumour Machine grinds on.