News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th May 1999

Can ballroom become the next dance sensation? An Anglo-Australian dance spectacular Burn The Floor aims to do for ballroom, what Riverdance did for Irish step dancing. Forty four dancers from eleven countries will present ten standard and Latin styles, an industrial cha-cha, jive, Lindy Hop, salsa and street dancing. The show is directed by Anthony Van Laast and choreographed by Lindsay Hiller-Tate. Mark Fisher, of Rolling Stones tours and Millenium Dome fame, is creating the set for the arena venues, which include the 50,000 seater Tokyo Dome. It launches in Bournemouth on 17th July, and then embarks on a world tour, returning to Britain in October and November. The producer is Harley Medcalf, with backing from Polygram.

Chichester Festival Theatre has announced its Minerva Theatre season, running from 9th June to 30th October. It consists of Nick Darke's The King Of Prussia directed by Sean Holmes; Terry Johnson's Insignificance directed by Loveday Ingram; Nymph Errant music and lyrics by Cole Porter and book by Michael Whaley and Steve Mackes, directed by Roger Redfarn; Peter Whelan's The School Of Night; and the world premiere of The Retreat From Moscow by William Nicholson.

Philip Ridley's Sparkleshark opens at the National Theatre on 7th June. It started two years ago, as part of the BT Connections programme of new plays performed by young people, and concerns a group of inner city teenagers, who find a way of escaping the violence of their surroundings, through creating stories on the roof of a tower block. The hour long play is backed up by an education programme which includes teachers support pack and seminars, and workshops. Terry Johnson directs.

Meanwhile on the other side of Waterloo bridge, American architect Rick Mather has been chosen as the master planner for the latest South Bank Centre makeover. Although the complete replacement of the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery had been promised, Mather is likely to be less radical. He is expected to remove the walkways, and refurbish the buildings, so that there is street level access. Most people would prefer the bulldozers to move in, but architects nowadays seem to have given up designing whole buildings, and specialise in roofs, such as Norman Foster's at the British Museum and Reichstag. Mather is no exception, having recently completed one over the courtyard at the National Maritime Museum.

Twiggy is to return to Broadway for the first time in twenty years. She will star with Harry Groener in Sheridan Morley's Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence show, which has appeared in many different versions, and is now retitled If Love Were All. It uses excerpts from Coward's shows to reflect the passage of their relationship. This is the first of New York's Coward centenary tributes, and opens at the Lucille Lortel Theatre on 10th June, directed by Leigh Lawson.

Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt's 2 Pianos, 4 Hands will reach the West End in October. The show comprises of the two actor/writers recalling the keyboard experiences of their youth. It started in Toronto in 1996, and has been playing almost continuously in America or Canada ever since. Their British debut was under the direction of the ubiquitous Jeremy Sams at Birmingham Repertory Theatre earlier this year.

Jean Genet's The Maids plays at the Young Vic from 6th July to 7th August. Katie Mitchell directs an in house production of Martin Crimp's translation of Genet's notorious first play, about two maids and one mistress - a devious triangle of love, hatred and disgust.

Elizabeth Robson's Geisha Girl premieres at the Riverside Studios from18th May to 6th June. An aspiring actress's first night, as a hostess at a Japanese nightclub in Soho, is the setting for a rites of passage story. It is directed by Nicholas Ball and is presented by Working Lunch Productions.

The children's dance drama The Snowman is returning to the Peacock Theatre from 25th November to 9th January. Bill Alexander's Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of Raymond Briggs' story, has music and lyrics by Howard Blake, and is choreographed by Robert North. Sadler's Wells Theatre will stage a new production of Dick Whittington by Stephen Clark, directed and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, from 21st December to 29th January. It draws on the tradition of Joey Grimaldi, who established pantomime at Sadler's Wells in the 19th century.

The Rumour Machine says: that Eileen Atkins will repeat her role in Yasmina Reza'a The Unexpected Man on Broadway with Nick Nolte; and that Simon Gray's latest play The Late Middle Classes (which received mixed to good regional reviews) has been bumped from the Gielgud Theatre, its prospective West End home, in favour of the self explanatory "musical" Boyband (which received mixed to poor regional reviews) and is surely a prime contender in the Shortest West End Run stakes. The Rumour Machine grinds on.