News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th October 2005

The Royal Court Theatre has announced the plays and events that will make up its 50th anniversary season. Though celebrating past triumphs, it concentrates on new writing, with, as previously forecast here, Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll, set in Czechoslovakia and Britain, moving between 1956, 1968 and the present day, directed by Trevor Nunn; Terry Johnson's Piano/Forte, starring Kelly Reilly and Alicia Witt; Stella Feehily's O Go My Man, looking at relationships in a hectic world of personal and professional commitments, directed by Max Stafford-Clark; Simon Stephens's Motortown, following a soldier returning from Iraq; Tanika Gupta's Sugar Mummies, exploring Jamaican sex tourism, directed by Indhu Rubasingham; and an unnamed play by David Hare, directed by Stephen Daldry. The Theatre Upstairs will host rehearsed readings tracing the journey of the Royal Court from John Osborne's The Entertainer to Roy Williams's Fallout, with, where possible, the original casts. Further celebrations will include a special event to mark the People's Choice, which named The Rocky Horror Show as the theatregoers' favourite Royal Court production (no doubt much to the chagrin of the theatre management). Further information can be found on the RC web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Woody Harrelson, Clare Higgins and Jenny Seagrove are to star in Tennessee Williams's The Night Of The Iguana, directed by Anthony Page, opening at the Lyric Theatre on 5th December. Set in Mexico in 1940, the story concerns an alcoholic defrocked clergyman turned tour guide, and three women of different ages, embroiled in the customary quagmire of sexual tension and moral quandary. The producer is Bill Kenwright.

The names of this year's thespians to be inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in New York have been announced. They are actors John Lithgow, Dorothy Loudon and Sada Thompson, designers Ben Edwards and William Ivey Long, director/choreographer Graciela Daniele, director Peter Hall and playwright William Gibson. New York Post columnist Liz Smith will host the 35th annual ceremony at the Gershwin Theatre on 30th January. The Hall of Fame was created in 1973 to honour performers and creatives who have made a lasting impression in American theatre. To be eligible for induction, a candidate must have a career that spans twenty five years, with at least five major stage credits. They are chosen by 350 voting members of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Theatre Critics Association. Membership is marked by a plaque located in the North Rotunda in the lobby of the Gershwin Theatre.

Meridian Theatre is seeking applications for its two bursaries of 20,000 and 10,000, funded by Interact, for projects of innovation and imagination from UK based not for profit theatre companies. The bursaries will be given to the best proposals showing how the money would make a discernable and creative impact on a specific aspect of a production. Last year's winners included Theatre Rites, for their children's production In One Ear, Scene and Heard's creative writing project with under privileged children in Camden, Arcola Theatre Company for their hip-hop musical Release The Beat, and Dialogue Productions for their touring version of Top Dogs. Applications must be submitted by 28th October. Further information and an application form can be found on the Interact web site via the link from Training in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Broadway musical Footloose, which has already been on one pre London tour last year, is to make a second assault on the West End, starting at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 5th January. The show is based on the 1984 film, about a big city boy who finds himself relocated to a small Bible belt town where dancing is banned as the work of the Devil (along with fun in general), so his rock 'n' roll ways are frowned upon. It is a revised version of the 1998 original, with book by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, and songs by Dean Pitchford and Tom Snow and others, directed and choreographed by Karen Bruce. The producers are Mark Goucher, Michael Rose and Tristan Baker.

Experimental theatre company The Sticking Place is staging Terror 2005! Theatre Of Horror And Grand Guignol, a festival of horror theatre, including cabaret, contemporary puppet shows and other oddities, at the Union Theatre in Southwark, running until 5th November. Among the events will be Darren Ormandy's DeSade; H G Wells's The Red Room, adapted and directed by Justin Butcher; Edgar Allan Poe's The Premature Burial, adapted by Adam Meggido; The Dark Third Act, devised and written by the company, directed by Matt Peover; Graham Greene's The End Of The Party, adapted by William Stewart; Ambrose Bierce's My Favourite Murder, adapted by Jamie Stewart; Robert Frost's The Witch Of Coos, directed by Ben Nealon; Sean McCann's Workprint; and W W Jacobs's The Monkey's Paw, adapted by Marcus Daley. Halloween night on 31st October will be celebrated with magic and poetry with the Society of Wonders and Scary Little Girls. Further information can be found on the SP web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Bob Block's 1970s children's television comedy Rentaghost, about an agency that offers ghosts and poltergeists for hire, is to become a stage musical, with book and lyrics by Joe Pasquale, and music by Robin Scott. It will open a tour of one night stands at the Playhouse Harlow on 13th February, directed by Terry Morrison, and produced by Shaun Cornell.

Producers Stuart Oken and Michael Leavitt, and Five Cent Productions (a co-operative of five regional performing arts centres), have announced the formation of Elephant Eye Theatrical, a Chicago based theatrical development and production company, which will create new book musicals for Broadway. The venture will have an initial $8m budget for five artist driven projects to be developed over the next 10 years, focusing on strong story and characters and the interplay of dramatic scenes and music. It takes its name from 'where the corn is as high as' from the lyric in Oklahoma!. Projects already in development are: Bruce Lee: Journey To The West, book by David Henry Hwang, following the mythic journey of the martial arts star and the Chinese warrior god The Monkey King, to be directed by Matthew Warchus; 1968, book by Margaret Nagle, the story of turbulent times of that year seen through the experiences of a family in Berkeley, to be directed by Taylor Hackford; and Beauty Sleeping, adapted by Tina Landau from her idiosyncratic play based on the Grimm fairy tale, with music by Jeanine Tesori.

The Rumour Machine says: that Sienna Miller and Rupert Everett will star in a West End production of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion next autumn, a co-production between Robert Fox and Howard Panter; and that the spoof Sci-Fi musical Saucy Jack And The Space Vixens, a 1995 Edinburgh Fringe hit, whose West End launch crashed on take off in 1998, may return to The Venue off Leicester Square next month. The Rumour Machine grinds on.