News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 14th December 2001

The Almeida Theatre will present the world premiere of Neil LaBute's The Distance From Here, directed by LaBute, from 8th May to 8th June. It is a portrait of young America in revolt with the story of six young Americans living in a suburban wasteland told in blasts of laughter and horror. His last work, The Shape Of Things, which also premiered at the Almeida, is currently playing Off Broadway.

New productions in the National Theatre's winter season include Harold Pinter's Monologue, performed by Henry Woolf, directed by Gari Jones; the UK premiere of the Off-Broadway hit The Syringa Tree, written and performed by Pamela Gien, the story of two South Africa families - one black, one white - in a shared household through four generations from the early 1960s to the present day, directed by Larry Moss; the world premiere of Sebastian Barry's Hinterland, starring Patrick Malahide as a political hero whose dubious past returns to haunt him, with Kieran Ahern, Phelim Drew, Anna Healy, James Hayes and Lucianne McEvoy, in a co-production with Out of Joint and the Abbey Theatre Dublin, directed by Max Stafford-Clark; and Martin Clunes as Moliere's Tartuffe, a 17th century religious hypocrite who worms his way into the ordered household of a prosperous merchant, in a new translation by Ranjit Bolt, with Martin Chamberlain, Debra Gillett, Tom Goodman-Hill, Suzanne Heathcote, Clare Holman, Andrew McDonald, Bill Moody, Marianne Morley, Melanie Clark Pullen, Nick Sampson, David Threlfall, Sam Troughton, Margaret Tyzack, Julian Wadham and Deborah Winckles, directed by Lindsay Posner.

Alone It Stands, written and directed by John Breen, will open at the Duchess Theatre on 2nd January for a six week season. It is a comedy about a local Irish rugby team beating the All Blacks in 1978, with Malcolm Adams, Dessie Gallagher, Garrett Lombard, Gerry McCann, Niamh McGrath, Paul Meade playing 60 characters between them in Stones In His Pockets fashion. Originally produced in 1999 by the Yew Tree Theatre in County Mayo, it was seen at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.

Jongleurs comedy club chain owner Regent Inns has bought the former Home nightclub in Leicester Square and plans to turn it into an eight storey entertainment complex with two comedy rooms. The 48,000 square foot venue is licensed to hold 2400 people and remain open until 3am. Jongleurs already operates seven regional clubs in addition to the original premises in Battersea and other London branches in Camden and Bow.

Maggie Smith will star in The Breath Of Life, a new play by David Hare, about two women involved with the same man, some time next year. The producer will be Robert Fox but a director is yet to be signed.

A Korean musical spectacular The Last Empress will play at the London Apollo Hammersmith from 1st to 16th February, following seasons at the Lincoln Centre in New York. The operatic style show tells the true story of a 19th century Korean Queen and her struggle to forge relationships with western countries in order to resist the power of Japan. It features a cast of 45 led by Tae Won Ye, with over 600 lavish costumes, and sumptuous palace sets.

Nigel Planer is to star in Ben Elton's Queen musical We Will Rock You, directed by Chris Renshaw, with Arlene Phillips choreographing, opening at the Dominion Theatre on 14th May. It is set in a repressive futuristic world where rock music is banned, but under the cities live the Bohemians, rebels who believe in the glories of a previous age of rock. Prior to this Planer will embark on a brief regional tour as his alter ego Nicholas Craig in I, An Actor, supported and directed by Chris Douglas, and presented by Richard Temple.

The James Menzies-Kitchin Memorial Trust is inviting applications for the 2002 Young Theatre Director's Award. The Trust was formed in 1996 with the aim of assisting young untried directors. A Bursary of 6000 is awarded together with a space at the Battersea Arts Centre to enable the recipient to direct a classic text of their choice for a three week run. Applicants must be theatre professionals under the age of 30 who have directed no more than two professional productions. The deadline for applications is 14th January. Further information can be found by calling 01608 662153 or on the JMK Trust web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here Jeremy Sams National Theatre production of Noises Off, which closes at the Piccadilly Theatre on 26th January, will transfer to the Comedy Theatre on 8th February.

Hampstead Theatre's final season in its original home includes the European premiere of Angus Maclachlan's award winning Off-Broadway play Dead Eye Boy, which revolves around a couple who come together after a lifetime addicted to self-destruction, directed by Jennie Darnell, from 21st January to 9th February; the world premiere of Hand In Hand by Simon Block, chronicling a young man's return to battle torn Israel, directed by Gemma Bodinetz, from 20th February to 16th March; Peter Straughan's Bones, a comedy set in the 1960s about two brothers whose lives as proprietors of a small porn cinema are turned upside down when a London gangster arrives, directed by Max Roberts, from 22nd March to 13th April - a co-production with Live Theatre; After The Gods, by Steve Waters, in which a complex web of gender politics, sexual experiment and professional rivalry unfolds at an academic conference, directed by Gemma Bodinetz, from 11th June to 6th July; and Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, about the nouveau riche embarrassment, hysteria and pathos which ensue when Beverley and Laurence invite the neighbours round for drinks, originally produced by Hampstead in 1977, now directed by David Grindley. The new Hampstead Theatre is due for completion next autumn.

The Rumour Machine says: that Sinead Cusack will play Cleopatra in an RSC production of Antony And Cleopatra next year; yet another biomusical compilation show has the West End in its sights with Sweet Caroline, using the Elvis format of a trio of Neil Diamond impersonators singing nearly 30 of the singer's greatest hits; and that Fiona Shaw and Director Deborah Warner will bring an adaptation of Jeanette Winterton's The PowerBook, about a series of almost linked stories being typed on screen to an online audience to the stage at the National in June. The Rumour Machine grinds on.