Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
The Royal Shakespeare Company's Stratford productions of The Taming Of The Shrew and John Fletcher's lesser known sequel The Tamer Tamed, directed by Gregory Doran, which are currently touring, will transfer to the Queen's Theatre for an eight week season from 12th January. Alexandra Gilbreath and Jasper Britton lead the company as the battling lovers, playing the two shows in repertoire. The producers are Bill Kenwright and Thelma Holt.
The Theatre Museum has launched a £12m redevelopment programme designed to double the display space, and provide an education centre, easier visitor movement through the building, and better street frontage. The scheme depends on a successful £9m Heritage Lottery grant application, and adherence to a strict timetable, as the work must run concurrently with major structural alterations to be carried out by the London Transport Museum, which is housed in the same building. To point up its need for more space, the Museum is putting on display at the Royal Opera House a backcloth created by Prince Alexander Schervachidze for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes production of Le Train Bleu, a scaled up version of a painting by Pablo Picasso, who was so pleased with the result that he signed it - making it the largest signed Picasso canvas in the world. The plan is for the 33ft by 16ft cloth to hang in a newly created stairwell in the refurbished Museum.
Shakespeare's Globe is taking the theme of Star-Crossed Lovers for its 2004 season, and productions will include: Romeo And Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing and Measure For Measure (although it's questionable whether Shakespeare would have described Angelo and Isabella as Star-Crossed Lovers). Romeo And Juliet will be an 'original practices' production employing the clothing, music, dance and settings of the original Globe, and Much Ado About Nothing will be performed by an all female company. The season will run from 7th May to 26th September.
Jim Dale is to play Scrooge in the 10th and final season of the spectacular production of Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens musical version of A Christmas Carol, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York from 28th November to 27th December. The show was originally directed by Mike Ockrent and choreographed by Susan Stroman, who now recreates it each season. It aims to rival the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show in scale, by turning the lobby into a Victorian market place, with carollers, street performers and food stalls. The show itself features the biggest theatrical set in the history of New York theatre, and the world's largest indoor snowfall. Previous Bah Humbugers have included F Murray Abraham, Tim Curry, Frank Langella, Tony Roberts, Roger Daltrey, Roddy McDowell and Tony Randall.
Under the umbrella title A Feast Of Stephens, playwright Simon Stephens is to have two plays staged consecutively at the Bush Theatre. Christmas, will run from 7th to 31st January, presented by APE. One Minute, about the different effect of a child's disappearance on five people, directed by Gordon Anderson, will play from 4th to 28th February. It is a co-production by the Actors Touring Company and Sheffield Theatres, where it premiered earlier this year with Teresa Banham, Lucy Black, Sarah Paul, Tom Ellis and Simon Wolfe.
The Christmas show at The Little Angel Theatre is The Secret Garden, adapted by Karen Prell from the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, directed by Nigel Plaskitt, told with table top puppets, running from 6th December to 1st February. It plays in tandem with the Objects Dart production for younger children Jorinda And Joringel, adapted from the story by the Brothers Grimm, performed with miniature marionettes, from 20th December to 31st January. Performances are generally mornings and afternoons from Thursdays to Sundays, with extra midweek shows during the holiday period.
The inimitable Kaos Theatre company, who combine a cappella singing, physical theatre, storytelling, text, recorded soundtracks and video in their presentations of new writing and adaptations of classic texts, are currently touring with The Kaos Alice. Xavier Leret has used Lewis Carroll's children's books as the inspiration for 'a contemporary urban nightmare', a dark and hallucinatory story (strictly for adults) which combines live action with puppetry from Jo Pocock of Shockheaded Peter fame.
The Open Circle: Peter Brook's Theatre Environments, a book by Peter Brook, Andrew Todd and Gean-Guy Lecaut, published by Faber, looks at the spaces that Brook has used for his productions over the last 30 years. The greatest and most successful champion of staging theatre in found spaces, Brook has embraced every kind of structure, from factories to tombs, and quarries to monasteries. Productions created by his company in their home at the abandoned music hall in Paris, the Bouffes du Nord Theatre, have toured all over the world, rediscovering themselves with each new venue. This book analyses the spaces created for particular productions, and documents them with a photographs and drawings. Peter Brook gives an account of his ideas and inspirations, while his designers Andrew Todd and Jean-Guy Lecat reflect on how they were realised.
Unicorn Children's Theatre's Christmas production will be Rumpelstiltskin, by Mike Kenny, based on the dark tale by the Brothers Grimm, with music by Matthew Bugg, which will run at the Cochrane Theatre from 28th November to 11th January. A goblin-like dwarf gives a girl the power to turn straw into gold, but she learns that nothing comes for free.
The creators of The Donkey Show (subtitled A Midsummer Night's Disco), the Off Broadway interactive musical that relocates Shakespeare's play in a club and features 1970's hits, (and is actually performed in a disco), have taken the format to its logical conclusion with The Karaoke Show. Very loosely based on The Comedy Of Errors, and once again staged in a club, the show involves a karaoke contest, and when the show ends the audience is invited to join in a Karaoke Idol contest of their own, after which there is dancing until late. The show is written by Randy Weiner, directed by Diane Paulus, and produced by Jordan Roth.
The Rumour Machine says: that Nicole Kidman is interested in playing the title role in Terry Johnson's Hitchcock Blond on Broadway, but she doesn't want Johnson to direct - and that may be a deal breaker; that Les Miserables will downsize by moving from the Palace Theatre to the Queen's Theatre next spring, making way for Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman In White at the Palace in the autumn; and that Michael Frayn's Democracy, already upsizing from the Cottesloe to the Lyttelton at the National in the new year, will transfer to Wyndham's Theatre in April, presented by Lee Dean and Michael Codron. The Rumour Machine grinds on.