News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th April 2000

For the first time ever, over twenty West End shows are presenting a co-ordinated schedule of audio-described and sign language interpreted performances for visually impaired and deaf theatregoers. Sign language interpreted performances include Speed-the-Plow, Passion Play, Cressida and The Mousetrap. Audio-described performances, organised by Vocaleyes, include musicals Les Miserables, The Phantom Of The Opera, Mamma Mia!, Cats and Whistle Down The Wind and plays Orpheus Descending, Mother Courage, An Inspector Calls and The Tempest at Shakespeare's Globe. As part of the project, devised by the Society of London Theatre and funded by a grant from the Arts Council of England's New Audiences Programme, behind-the-scenes touch tours will also be offered on a number of West End shows. Further information from the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link from TheatreNet.

The London Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates its annual migration south to become the resident orchestra at Glyndebourne, by taking to the stage with a Celebration Of Opera concert, at Glyndebourne Opera House on Sunday 30th April at 5.00pm. Kathleen Battle will sing works chosen from opera and operetta, including Rossini, Mozart, Strauss, Handel and Lehar, with Mark Elder conducting. The season opens on 20th May with Le Nozze Di Figaro and runs until to 27th August.

Greenwich Theatre in association with The Mercury Workshop and the New Musicals Alliance is presenting Musical Futures, a showcase of new musical theatre writing from 2nd to 13th May. The programme of rehearsed readings and showcases includes: Falls about a wirewalker crossing the Niagara Falls, music and lyrics by Andrew Small and book by Anthony George; Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Musical Adventure based on the films, book, music and lyrics by Dean Collinson, Gene Jacobs & Mick Walsh; Sinta! (The One I Love) set in 19th century Philippines under oppressive Spanish colonial rule, music and lyrics by Anthony Castro, book and lyrics Eleanor Sy Templeman; Police Story looking at our obsession with crime novels, cop shows and Hollywood movies, book and lyrics by Paul James and music by Eric Angus; and "to err is human - but if you really want to screw things up, you need a computer", book and lyrics by Mary Stewart-David and music by Denis King, featuring Liz Robertson, Robert Meadmore and David Kernan. There will also be cabaret performances by Janie Dee, Tim Flavin and Imelda Staunton, and a masterclass with vocal guru Mary Hammond.

Twenty three years ago the first performance of The Passion took place on the terraces outside the National Theatre. At 12.30pm on Easter Saturday 22nd April the company of The Mysteries will again stage a free performance of The Crucifixion with the river and St Paul's as the backdrop.

Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti will make history at their Three Tenors concert in Las Vegas on 22rd April with a live video webcast. It will be free to all who register on the concert promoter's talent search and performance web site at: The site has been created as a vehicle to discover new talent, and will normally run online auditions by prospective performers, on whose abilities visitors to the site can vote. There are plans for future webcast performances by The Three Sopranos and The Shaolin Monks.

The programme has been announced to for this year's Edinburgh International Festival running from 13th August to 2nd September. Highlights of the 180 performances include: New York City Ballet's first British appearance for 11 years; The Cleveland Orchestra's only UK appearances of the year with Berlioz The Damnation Of Faust; Nederlands Dans Theater in a unique project with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Charles Mackerras; Abbey Theatre Dublin in Frank McGuinness adaptation of Barbaric Comedies by Ramón del Valle-Inclán, directed by Calixto Bieito; Pierre Boulez and the London Symphony Orchestra with the culmination of Boulez 2000; Christian Zacharias with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra performing all Mozart's Piano Concertos; Scottish Opera starting a new Ring Cycle with Das Rheingold directed by Tim Albery; Music of the Millennium a series of concerts celebrating 1000 years of music; Peter Zadek directing a female lead in Hamletand; choreographer Mats Ek debuting as a play director with Molière's Don Juan; and Stuttgart State Opera in Jossi Wieler's production of Handel's Alcina. Full details from the Edinburgh International Festival web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Hundred And One Dalmations take to the stage of the Belgrade Coventry, in an ensemble production using physical theatre, film and special effects, including walkways in the auditorium ensuring that the audience is an integral part of the performance. Adapted and directed by Debbie Isitt, the show doesn't shrink from the dark and cruel elements of the story. It runs from 12th April to 6th May, and is a joint production with Snarling Beasties.

On The Casting Couch: Julie Walters makes her first stage appearance for almost ten years, joining James Hazeldine and Catherine McCormack in Arthur Miller's All My Sons at the National in July; Kenneth Cranham, Jamie Glover and Natasha Little star in The Novice, Richard Eyre's new version of Sartre's Les Mains Sales opening at the Almeida on 10th May; Helen Mirren, Stuart Townsend and Saskia Reeves lead in Tennessee Williams Orpheus Descending at Donmar from 27th June; and Julie-Alanah Brighten and Paul Keating star alongside Oliver Tobias in La Cava arriving on 1st June at the Victoria Palace.

This year's Holland Park Opera Season runs from 6th June to 12th August, with a repertoire which for the first time consists entirely of Holland Park Opera productions. They are: Puccini's Madam Butterfly directed by Tim Coleman; the world premiere of Joao de Sousa Carvalho's L'amore Industrioso directed by Sarah Alexandra; Pietro Mascagni's L'amico Fritz directed by Matthais Janser; Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte directed by Tom Hawkes; Gilbert and Sullivan's Yeoman Of The Guard directed by Richard Fawkes; and Verdi's Un Ballo In Maschera directed by Anthony Besch. The Royal Ballet School will perform its annual showcase from 5th to 8th July. General booking opens on 8th May at Holland Park and on 020 7602 7856.