News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th July 2000

There are far reaching moves afoot in the theatre museum world. The Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection of books and ephemera, most of which is currently in storage, is to form a central part of a new 1.2m Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts. The Jerwood Foundation, which bailed out (and renamed) the Royal Court Theatre last year, is funding the library as part of the Trinity College of Music's move to the restored former Royal Naval College in Greenwich, in September 2001. The library will be housed in King Charles Court, the oldest part of the building, and will also absorb Trinity's archive, the Centre for Young Musicians Library, and the personal collections of composer Stanley Black, and conductor Antonio de Almeida. But it may not stop there. The Department of Culture is believed to be encouraging the Victoria and Albert Museum to divest itself of its satellite operations, which include the Theatre Museum, and concentrate on developing its "core business" in South Kensington. Unable to sustain an independent operation, the Theatre Museum may find itself on the receiving end of a takeover bid from Jerwood, which is believed to have already expressed an interest in the Royal Court archive, currently housed at the Museum. There is a link to the (not entirely up to date) Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection web site from the Information section of TheatreNet.

A date has finally been set for Jessica Lange's return to the West End in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night. Originally a Bill Kenwright/Peter Hall collaboration, the production was delayed partly by their falling out, but it is now scheduled to open on 21st November. The play centres on an actor, to be played by Charles Dance, whose wife (Lange) has failed to conquer her enduring drug problem, and whose son is an alcoholic. It will be directed by Robin Phillips and produced by Kenwright.

The Donmar Warehouse is to have a second You Set The Price Night on 26th July, when all tickets for the current production of Orpheus Descending will go sale at 5pm on the day on a first-come, first-served basis. Theatregoers will be able to buy one pair of tickets each, paying whatever they feel is appropriate - in which case shouldn't they pay at the end of the performance?

Jeffrey Archer will put himself in the dock when he makes his stage debut in The Accused, his courtroom drama in which the audience is the jury, and the ending depends on their decision. Edward Petherbridge, Tony Britton and Edward de Souza join Archer in the tale of a doctor, who is either a faithful husband or a wife killer. The production premieres at the Theatre Royal Windsor in September, and following a short tour, will open in the West End at the end of November. The director is Val May and the producer is Lee Menzies.

This will be preceded at Windsor by the previously mentioned revival of Noel Coward's Fallen Angels, starring Felicity Kendal and Frances de la Tour, opening on 5th September. First performed in 1925, the comedy tells of two married girlfriends who await the arrival of the same former lover. Michael Rudman directs and the producer is Bill Kenwright. A West End first night is scheduled for 25th October.

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the third Kids Week in the West End from 25th August, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to over 25 West End shows, with up to two additional children at half price. Over 35 accompanying events will be taking place during the week, including backstage tours, workshops and "meet the cast" opportunities. There are also discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages. Full details will be announced soon and posted on the Kids Week web site, which can be found via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The League Of Gentlemen are bringing the locals of Royston Vasey, the characters from their television series, to the stage for a six week regional tour starting (surely not by chance) at Tunbridge Wells on 31st October. Given the elaborate costume and makeup jobs required to produce the series, it will be interesting to see how it works live - after all, their technique is more Spitting Image than Rory Bremner. The producer is Phil McIntyre.

Attention Star Trek enthusiasts - the Science Museum needs you! Taking its new "Science Lite" mission seriously, the museum is housing the first UK showing of an exhibition called Star Trek: Federation Science, featuring interactive (natch!) exhibits and props from the television and film series. The museum is recruiting for the Starfleet Academy, seeking Star Trek Crew Members to provide "customer care" throughout the run from September to April 2001. Auditions are at the museum on 20th July from 9.30am. Contenders should attend in costume, clutching a cv, and up to 200 words on "What I see the role of a Star Trek Crew Member at the Science Museum to be." Presumably "Playing a significant role in trivialising a once great institution" will not be acceptable.

The Traverse Theatre Edinburgh is currently presenting the world premiere of Abandonment, the first play by Whitbread Award winning novelist Kate Atkinson. It tells the story of a woman who seeks seclusion, but when she moves into a Victorian mansion, is invaded by friends, relatives, tradesmen - and more disturbingly, the building's deceased former owner. The cast includes Patricia Kerrigan, Sheila Reid and Elaine C Smith, and the director is John Tiffany.

The Broadway Theatre Archive claims to have the most extensive catalogue of Broadway productions taped for television over the past five decades. The library consists of over 320 classics, including Alice In Wonderland with Richard and Kate Burton, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson in Home, The Iceman Cometh with Robert Redford, James Earl Jones as King Lear and Secret Service with Meryl Streep and John Lithgow. BTA has donated copies of all the tapes in its catalogue to the New York Museum of Radio and Television for public access, and offers educational institutions special rates for purchase. Further information is available from the Broadway Theatre Archive web site via the link from The Emporium section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that La Cava was given its marching orders by the Victoria Palace in order to accommodate a transfer of the West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Singin In The Rain currently at the National; that Woody Allen is working with composer Marvin Hamlisch on turning his film Bullets Over Broadway into a musical; and that the The Snowman, based on Raymond Brigg's story, will be back at the Peacock Theatre for a third London Christmas season. The Rumour Machine grinds on.