News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th August 2009

Judi Dench will play Titania in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Peter Hall, at the Rose Theatre in Kingston, from 15th February to 20th March. The production will be set in Elizabethan England, with Titania, the Fairy Queen, imagined as a portrait of the ageing Queen Elizabeth I, fascinated with the theatre, besieged by courtiers, but 'married to the people of England'. Judi Dench previously played the role in Peter Hall's 1962 Royal Shakespeare Company production.

New York TheatreNet: As previously forecast here, the current West End production of the musical La Cage Aux Folles, book by Harvey Fierstein, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, with its original star Douglas Hodge, directed by Terry Johnson, with choreography by Lynne Page, which originated at the Menier Chocolate Factory, will open on Broadway at a Shubert theatre yet to be announced on 18th April. It is an adaptation of the French play, centred on a gay couple starring in and producing a drag show in a Saint-Tropez nightclub. The producers are Sonia Friedman Productions, Menier Chocolate Factory, Fran and Barry Weissler and Robert Bartner/Norman Tulchin.

A small scale family oriented musical version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, adapted and directed by Susie McKenna, music by Steve Edis, with Gareth Hale, Simon Lipkin, Rebecca Thornhill and Michael Matus, plus the voices of Matthew White and Sharon D Clarke, and choreography by Frank Thompson, will open at The Arts Theatre on 25th November. The producer is Tiny Tim Productions.

Meanwhile, Catwalk Confidential, Robyn Peterson's one woman show about her time as a supermodel, developed and directed by Tony Abatemarco, will transfer from the Edinburgh Fringe to the Arts for a four week season, opening on 9th September. The producers are Barbara Broccoli for Eon Productions and Michael Rose.

The autumn season at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton will include the premiere of Robin Soans's Mixed Up North, charting the difficulties of uniting divided racial communities in Burnley through theatre, with Celia Imrie, Judith Amsenga, Muzz Khan, Lisa Kerr, Asif Khan, Kashif Khan and Rosie Leslie, directed by Max Stafford-Clark, from 10th September, a co-production with Out Of Joint; Arthur Miller's All My Sons, exploring the guilt of a man who supplied defective parts to the American Air Force in the Second World War but blamed his partner, directed by David Thacker, from 1st October; Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, examining family, morality and guilt in a mother-son relationship, directed by David Thacker, from 29th October; and Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist, in a new version by Deborah McAndrew, from 27th November.

On The Casting Couch: Fiona Shaw will be joined by Peter Gowen, Martin Marquez, Harry Melling, Charlotte Randle, Clifford Samuel, Roger Sloman, Colin Stinton and Sophie Stone in Mother Courage And Her Children, opening at the National Theatre on 16th September; Dominic West will be joined by Malcolm Storry, Rupert Evans, Kate Fleetwood, David Horovitch, Lloyd Hutchinson and Sharon Small in Life Is A Dream, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 13th October; Mark Rylance and Simon McBurney will replace Richard Briers and Adrian Scarborough in Endgame, which will now open at the Duchess Theatre on 15th October; and Kevin Spacey will be joined by David Troughton, Paris Arrowsmith, Paul Birchard, Ken Bones, Adam Booth, David Burrows, Sonya Cassidy, Ian Conningham, Sam Cox, Mark Dexter, Mary Doherty, Branwell Donaghey, Janine Duvitski, Sarah Ingram, Nicholas Jones, Sid Livingstone, Simon Lee Phillips, Sam Phillips, Vincent Pirillo, Christopher Ragland, Susan Tracy and Janet Whiteside in Inherit The Wind, opening at the Old Vic Theatre on 1st October.

The first major exhibition of the work of theatre designer Oliver Messel in a generation will take place at the Rosehill Theatre at Whitehaven in Cumbria, to celebrate its 50th anniversary in September. Messel designed the interior of the Rosehill Theatre, which was described at the time as a "rose red, silk lined jewellery box". Messel transformed theatre design between the 1930s and 1950s, with his lavish, painterly and poetic style of design, and his work spanned a huge variety of locations, including the Royal Opera House, the West End, Broadway and Hollywood. The materials in the exhibition, many of which have never been on display before, have been loaned by the Victoria and Albert Museum. They offer an insight into Messel's working practices, and cover not only his work in theatre scenic and costume design, but also in film, interior design and architecture. The exhibition will remain on show for the next 3 years, in what will become the Rosehill Theatre's Messel Room.

The autumn season at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn will comprise three new plays in repertoire by black writers, examining life and society in 21st century London. They are Roy Williams's Category B, set in a prison where the 'ruler' of the wing is looking for a new number two, directed by Paulette Randall, opening on 12th October; Seize The Day, written and directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, exploring the idea of a black mayoral candidate, opening on 2nd November; and Bola Agbaje's Detaining Justice, which follows the case of a man applying for asylum, directed by Indhu Rubasingham, opening on 30th November.

Theatre company Shakespeare 4 Kidz's musical version of Hamlet is to be turned into a 3D film, directed by John Godber, as part of a deal that will see six of the organisation's plays adapted for the screen. If this initial project is successful, Elsinore Films will go on to film Shakespeare 4 Kidz's productions of Macbeth, Romeo And Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night and The Tempest.

Future productions at the Jermyn Street Theatre off Piccadilly will include Words Of Honour: The Mafia Exposed, adapted by Attilio Bolzoni from his book Parole d'Onore, an insight into one of the world's oldest and most secret criminal organisations, with Marco Gambino and Patrizia Bollini, directed by Manuela Ruggiero, from 7th September; and Stewart Permutt's Many Roads To Paradise, about unconventional relationships (an 80 year old Jewish woman with her Muslim carer, her daughter with another woman, and a failed travel agent with a man he met online), with Miriam Karlin, Amanda Boxer, Gillian Hanna, Elizabeth Uter, Jason Wing and Daniel Hill, directed by Anthony Biggs, from 6th October.

The Rumour Machine says: that Angela Lansbury is keen to reprise her Tony Award winning performance in the recent Broadway production of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, directed by Michael Blakemore, in London, but only wants to do it at the Haymarket Theatre, where her mother performed in the 1930s; and that the current Broadway sellout Shakespeare In The Park production of Gerome Ragni-James Rado-Galt MacDermot's Hair, the 1960s American tribal love rock musical, may transfer to London in the autumn of next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.