News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th July 2006

The autumn season at Hampstead Theatre will include the premiere of Everything Is Illuminated, adapted by Simon Block from the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, in which a young Jewish New Yorker searches for his roots in the Ukraine, directed by Rachel O'Riordan, opening on 14th September; the Oxford Stage Company's reinterpretation of Christopher Marlowe's Faustus, giving it a 21st century dimension, directed by Rupert Goold, opening on 24th October; the premiere of Ryan Craig's The Glass Room, about a human rights lawyer in conflict with his beliefs and his client's right to speak freely, directed by Anthony Clark, opening on 28th November; and The Mouse Queen, a puppet musical from the Little Angel Theatre, based on several of Aesop's fables, adapted by Ben Glasstone and Tim Kane, directed by Steve Tiplady, with puppets by Peter O'Rourke.

The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough is premiering Tim Firth's Absolutely Frank, with Michael Bertenshaw and Michael Imerson, directed by Richard Derrington, until 5th August. The comedy relates what happens when a middle aged signwriter who longs to write an all action spy novel, finds that dramatic events start happening in real life. This will be followed by Lesley Bruce's My Own Show, a black comedy about celebrity, friendship and revenge, directed by Deborah Bruce, opening on 17th August.

The Northcott Theatre in Exeter goes alfresco again this summer, performing Twelfth Night, with David Gwillim, David Delve, Richard Dixon, John O'Mahony, James Howard, Emma Darwall-Smith, MyAnna Buring, Sara Weymouth and John O'Mahony, directed by Ben Crocker, in the Rougemont Gardens until 12th August. Meanwhile a variety of one night events take place in the theatre itself as part of the Exeter Festival. Work begins in September on the 3.1m project to build a new extension that will triple the theatre's foyer, bar and restaurant space. The Northcott will close from February to September next year to enable the building work to be completed, the auditorium to be refurbished, and a further 105 seats to be added, bringing the capacity to 538. The theatre will reopen on its 40th birthday.

The existing lease of the Wigmore Hall runs out in six years time, and the venue has begun a fundraising scheme to find the 3.1m necessary to purchase a new long term lease. Thanks to a donation of 1m from Aubrey Adams, one of its trustees, it is almost half way there. The new season at the Wigmore, beginning on 8th September, will be based around the themes of: A Festival of Song, with appearances by, amongst others, Thomas Allen, Barbara Bonney, Ian Bostridge, Grace Bumbry, Felicity Lott, Mark Padmore, Felicity Palmer and Anne Sofie von Otter; Celebrating Contemporary Music, with premieres of works by Gyorgy Kurtag, Huw Watkins and Peter Maxwell Davies; Benjamin Britten In Memoriam, a mini festival of the composer's works; and Beethoven: Autumn, Winter and Spring, including Andras Schiff completing his cycle of piano sonatas, while Paul Lewis continues his, and Christian Tetzlaff and Alexander Lonquich performing the complete violin and piano sonatas.

New York TheatreNet: The dance musical The Times They Are A-Changin', using the music of Bob Dylan, conceived, directed and choreographed by Twyla Tharp, which premiered at Old Globe Theatre in San Diego earlier this year, will make its Broadway debut at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on 26th October. The show has a 'coming of age' storyline, set in a travelling circus, featuring Michael Arden, Caren Lyn Manuel and Thom Sesma. The producers are James L. Nederlander, Hal Luftig/Warren Trepp, Debra Black, Terry Allen Kramer, Patrick Catullo and Rick Steiner.

Mel Smith and Belinda Laing will star in the British premiere of the comedy An Hour And A Half Late, by French Boulevardiers Jean Dell and Gerald Sibleyras, adapted by Smith, directed by Tamara Harvey, which opens a prospective pre London tour at the Theatre Royal Bath on 12th September. Five minutes candid conversation between a couple about to leave for a dinner party pitches their lives into crisis and anarchy. The producers are Theatre Royal Bath Productions, David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers.

The autumn season at the Peacock Theatre comprises return visits by Le Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the drag ballerinas in extracts from the classics; Shaolin Monks - Kung Fu Masters Live, the martial arts display; American dance company MoMix with Moses Pendleton's Lunar Sea, a 'black and white' ballet like a giant Rorschach test; Raymond Briggs's The Snowman, making his ninth London appearance, the original Birmingham Rep production, with a score by Howard Blake from the animated film, choreographed by Robert North, and directed by Bill Alexander; and the Korean company Ye-Gam with Jump, the unique show that combines a family sitcom with Tae-kwon-do.

Con O'Neil, Charles Aitkin, Emma Kennedy, Sam Crane, Victoria Lennox and Nancy Walsh will star in the world premiere of Midnight Cowboy, Tim Fountain's stage adaptation of James Leo Herlihy's novel and the subsequent film, directed by John Clancy, opening at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh on 4th August. It is the story of a naive Texan who arrives in New York convinced he can become a high class gigolo, who forms an unlikely friendship with a small time con man with big dreams.

On The Casting Couch at Donmar Warehouse: Kim Cattrall will star in David Mamet's The Cryptogram, opening on 17th October; Rhys Ifans will play the title role in Patrick Marber's Don Juan In Soho, opening on 6th December; and Ian McDiarmid will be joined by Penelope Wilton in Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman, opening on 20th February.

Disney have announced that their next stage musical project will be The Man In The Ceiling, for which Jules Feiffer will adapt his book, and Andrew Lippa will write the score. It is the story of a boy cartoonist who dreams of becoming a successful artist despite the expectations of everyone around him.

Northern Broadsides will bring its 'e bah gum' style to Goldoni in The Man With Two Gaffers, Blake Morrison's adaptation of the comedy del' arte classic, starring and directed by Barry Rutter, opening a regional tour at Theatre Royal York on 26th August. It will be joined by the premiere of Deborah McAndrew's Vacuum, about two characters in a confined space who undertake a terrible journey in their imaginations, directed by Conrad Nelson, at NB's home base, the Viaduct Theatre in Halifax on 22nd September.

The Russian clown Slava Polunin is returning to Britain, opening a regional tour of Slava's Snowshow at Milton Keynes Theatre on 30th September. The wordless show sees a group of clowns overcoming various physical obstacles, sometimes involving the audience, culminating in the coup de theatre of the eponymous blizzard. It has been seen in over 80 cities in 25 countries, and has been playing at Union Square Theatre in New York for the last two years.