News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th November 2008

The National Theatre has announced further productions in its spring season: Peter Flannery's Burnt By The Sun, adapted from the 1994 film by Nikita Mikhalkov and Rustam Ibragimbekov, a tale of sexual jealousy, retribution and political rivalry in Russia at the beginning of Stalin's Great Terror, with Ciaran Hinds, Rory Kinnear, Pamela Merrick and Stephanie Jacob, directed by Howard Davies; and David Hare reading Berlin, his meditation on the German capital, what it represents in European history, and the peculiar part it has played in his own life, directed by Stephen Daldry. In addition, Stovepipe, a site specific promenade piece by former journalist Adam Brace about his time in Amman, will be performed at a secret location in Shepherds Bush in March, a co-production by the National, HighTide and the Bush Theatre.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, a revised version of Sister Act, a musical adaptation of the 1992 film about a disco singer fleeing the mob, who is given protective custody in a convent, where she clashes with the Mother Superior, but revolutionises the choir, book by Cheri and Bill Steinkellner, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, which had an unsuccessful pre-Broadway tryout in Pasadena two years ago, and a recent production in Atlanta, will open at the London Palladium on 2nd June. The producer is Stage Entertainment.

The new year season at the Soho Theatre will include: Steve Thompson's Roaring Trade, which follows the fortunes of a group of ruthless bond traders as the global financial crisis looms, opening on 12th January; In-Sook Chappell's This Isn't Romance, based on her experiences as a Korean born woman adopted and raised in Britain, directed by Lisa Goldman, opening on 17th February; the British premiere of Swedish playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri's Invasion!, in a translation by Frank Perry, about the lives of young Arab immigrants, reflecting on western views on identity, race, language and terror, opening on 12th March; and a site specific promenade piece celebrating the theatre's 40th birthday, combining memories and stories of people with a connection to the theatre and the neighbourhood from 1969 to the present day, from 22nd April.

The Watermill Theatre Newbury's small scale production of the musical Sunset Boulevard, book by Christopher Hampton, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Don Black, adapted from the 1950 film about a faded silent film star, with a cast of actor/musicians headed by Kathryn Evans, Ben Goddard, Dave Willetts, Laura Pitt-Pulford, Tomm Coles and Craig Pinder, directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, will open at the Comedy Theatre on 15th December.

Hampstead Theatre's 50th anniversary season will include a play produced in each decade of its history. As previously forecast here, it opens with Noel Coward's Private Lives, the story of a divorced couple who, finding themselves honeymooning with new partners in adjoining hotel suites, also find that their relationship is actually not over, with Claire Price and Jasper Britton, directed by Lucy Bailey, from 22nd January; the premiere of Ian Kennedy Martin's The Berlin Hanover Express, set in the Irish consulate in Berlin in the autumn of 1942, exploring the implications of a country remaining neutral in a time of war, directed by Michael Rudman, from 5th March, a co-production with Greg Ripley-Duggan and Paul Knight; Michael Frayn's Alphabetical Order, about life in a provincial newspaper office in the 1970s, directed by Christopher Luscombe, from 16th April; the premiere of April De Angelis's Amongst Friends, a darkly comic satire centring on a successful couple who receive an unwanted guest for dinner at their home in a fashionable 'gated community', directed by Anthony Clark, from 21st May; and Frank McGuinness's Observe The Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme, about a group of volunteers in the First World War, directed by John Dove, from 18th June.

This year's outer London pantomimes will include Cinderella, with Steve Guttenberg, Helen Lederer, Laura Hamilton, Mark Evans, Tucker, David Langham and John Barr, at the Churchill Theatre Bromley, from 5th December; Peter Pan, with Bonnie Langford, Simon Callow, Helen Dobson, Samantha Giffard and Tony Rudd, at Richmond Theatre from 5th December; and Cinderella, with Gareth Gates, Joanna Page, Alistair McGowan, Ronn Lucas, James Thornton, Louise Dearman, Graham Hoadly and Andrew Ryan, at the New Wimbledon Theatre, from 5th December.

The spring season at Sadler's Wells will include Opera North with David Sawer and Armando Ianucci's Skin Deep, about cosmetic surgery and the obsession with the body beautiful, and George and Ira Gershwin's political satire Of Thee I Sing, and its sequel, Let 'Em Eat Cake, directed by Caroline Gawn; the premiere of Eonnagata, a collaboration between Sylvie Guillem, Robert Lepage and Russell Maliphant, telling the story of a diplomat, writer, swordsman and spy for Louis XV; the London Flamenco Festival; the Forsyth Company performing the British premiere of Decreation; Rambert Dance Company with Christopher Bruce's Hush and Itzik Galili's A Linha Curva; Northern Ballet Theatre performing Romeo And Juliet and a mixed bill including Gillian Lynne's A Simple Man and Angels In The Architecture; English National Ballet with mixed bills of Ballets Russes creations; and Shall We Dance, a tribute to the music of Richard Rogers, conceived and performed by Adam Cooper; plus the return of Wayne Macgregor and Random Dance with Entity; Sutra, the collaboration of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Anthony Gormley and Shaolin Monks; and Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Chichester Festival Theatre companion piece productions of Ronald Harwood's Collaboration, about the 1930s writing partnership of the composer and Nazi sympathiser Richard Strauss, and the Jewish writer Stephan Zweig, and Taking Sides, imagining the interrogation of Willhelm Furtwangler, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra throughout the Nazi era, by an American from the De-Nazification Tribunal in post-war Germany, both plays featuring Michael Pennington with Isla Blair, Pip Donaghy, Martin Hutson, David Horovitch, Melanie Jessop and Sophie Roberts, and directed by Philip Franks, may be West End bound; and that the Liverpool Everyman/Playhouse production Once Upon A Time At The Adelphi, a musical taking an irreverent look at the city's most famous hotel in its 1930s heyday, written and directed by Phil Willmott, is looking for a co-producer to for a London transfer. The Rumour Machine grinds on.