News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th May 2004

Once again there is a strong showing of British talent in this year's Tony Awards nominations. They include Best Director: David Leveaux - Jumpers, (but not for Fiddler On The Roof); Best Actor Play (Leading): Simon Russell Beale - Jumpers, (Featured) Ben Chaplin - The Retreat From Moscow and Aiden Gillen - The Caretaker; Best Actress (Leading): Eileen Atkins - The Retreat From Moscow and (Featured) Essie Davies - Jumpers; Best Actor Musical (Leading): Alfred Molina - Fiddler On The Roof and Euan Morton - Taboo; Best Play: Briony Lavery - Frozen and William Nicholson - The Retreat From Moscow; Best Revival - Jumpers; and Best Choreography: Anthony Van Laast and Farah Khan - Bombay Dreams. Top honours go to the musical Wicked with 10 nominations, including Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel battling it out for Best Actress. The winners will be announced at the 58th Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall on 6th June, hosted by Hugh Jackman. The full list of nominees and further information can be found on the Tony Awards web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Claudia Shear, Kevin Chamberlin and Bob Stillman star in the Broadway comedy hit Dirty Blonde, which will finally receive its London premiere at the Duke Of York's Theatre on 14th June. The play centres on the relationship between two Mae West fans, who meet while visiting the legendary vaudeville and movie star's grave. It was written by Sheer, who plays both fan and West herself, and is directed by James Lapine. The show made its UK debut at the West Yorkshire Playhouse two years ago. The producers are James Hammerstein Productions in association with Darren Bagert and Act Productions.

The Almeida Theatre has announced its next season, which opens on 5th October with the premiere of a musical adaptation of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, with book by Giles Havergal, music by John Barry and lyrics by Don Black, directed by Michael Attenborough, a co-production with Bill Kenwright. Set in the underworld of 1930's Brighton, it concerns a gangland killer Pinkie, and the only witness to his crime, a young girl who is in love with him. Michael Attenborough's father Richard played Pinkie in the 1947 film version. The world premiere of The Earthly Paradise, by Peter Whelan, which explores the relationship between poet and designer William Morris, his wife Janey, and her lover, the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, directed by Robert Delamere, follows on 24th November. Simon Russell Beale stars as Macbeth, directed by John Caird, opening on 20th January. The season ends with Richard Eyre directing his own new version of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, starring Eve Best, as the woman struggling against the confines of her bourgeois existence at the turn of the twentieth century, opening on 16th March. The Almeida has also confirmed that Rufus Norris's production of David Eldridge's Festen will transfer to the West End in the autumn.

The 26th Association of British Theatre Technicians Theatre Show takes place at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London on 16th and 17th June. As usual it will be the complete theatre package featuring the products of over 100 leading lighting, sound and staging manufacturers, costume, prop and scenery makers, and suppliers of seating and soft furnishings, box office and IT systems, print and publicity, insurance and legal services, training and safety, books and publications, and leading theatre organisations. There will also be a free seminar programme, presentation of the ABTT Awards, and the Stage Management Association 50th Anniversary Party and presentation of Awards. Further information and online registration can be found on the ABTT and SMA web sites via the links from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Writers Willy Russell and Tim Firth are cutting out the middle men (the actors and the director) by performing their own work in a show called In Other Words, which is currently touring. It features 13 songs (mostly new) interspersed with excerpts from some of their best known works. Firth and Russell are accompanied by an eight piece band led by musical director Andy Roberts.

An Arts Council England survey has revealed that British theatre generates 2.6 billion annually for the UK economy, with more than half coming from the West End. An Economic Impact Study of UK Theatre found that West End venues put 1.5 billion back into the economy through ancillary audience spending, and expenditure by theatres on staff, goods and services. On average, each West End audience member spends an additional 53.77 on public transport, food and drink, accommodation and childcare. The economic impact of regional theatres is 1.1 billion, with an average extra audience spend of 7.77. This 2.6 billion boost to the economy is generated by an industry that benefits from a minimal public subsidy of 121.3 million.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced productions for its winter season in Stratford. In the Swan Theatre, one company will perform in repertoire Julius Caesar, directed by David Farr, and The Two Gentlemen Of Verona, directed by Fiona Buffini, from 18th November to 26th February. Before and after the Stratford season, these productions will tour leisure centres and schools around the country, performing in the RSC's mobile auditorium. In the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Beauty And The Beast, adapted and directed by Laurence Boswell, will return from 23rd November to 16th January.

Demos & Closures: A march is to be held at 12 noon on 12th June as part of the campaign to save the Redgrave Theatre in Farnham. Further information can be found on the Redgrave Theatre web site via the link from the Regional Theatres section of TheatreNet.

The summer season at the Soho Theatre will comprise: Belfast Blues, a one person play written and performed by Geraldine Hughes, about growing up in Catholic Belfast during the 1970's and 1980's, directed by Christine Harmar-Brown, from 1st June to 3rd July; performed in tandem with Robert Welch's one person play Protestant, a collection of stories which explore the essence of Protestantism, performed by Paul Hickey, directed by Rachel O'Riordan, from 7th June to 3rd July; and Lin Coghlan's Mercy, a 'futureshock' play, directed by Paul Miller, from 8th July to 7th August.

Once again this year the National Theatre is presenting Watch This Space, its free outdoor festival in Theatre Square from 18th June to 21st August, with a programme of street theatre that includes DJs, kathak dance, Greek music, acrobatics, flamenco, mime, jazz, martial arts, African drumming, salsa, physical theatre, blues, Commedia del Arte, rumba, clowns, contemporary dance, aerialists, comedy and pyrotechnics. Events are at 6.15pm Mondays to Saturdays, plus 1.15pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 10.30pm on Saturdays. New this year will be feature films projected on to the 70ft high Lyttelton fly tower on Saturday nights from 31st July to 21st August, with musicians providing live accompaniment on some nights. There will also be an additional screen in Theatre Square. Further information can be found on the National Theatre web site via the link from the London Theatres section of TheatreNet.