Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
The Laurence Olivier Awards is creating a new Audience Award, giving theatregoing audiences the chance to honour their favourite long running West End show. Voting is in two stages: first the selection of a shortlist from a field of 20, for which voting closes on 1st February, and then the selection of the actual winner. Everyone who votes will be entered into a prize draw to win a pair of money-can't-buy tickets for the Laurence Olivier Awards presentation ceremony on 21st March. Further information and voting form can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site, via the link opposite below.
The Young Vic will stage the European premiere of Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice a re-imagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, a tale of grief and redemption, with Ony Uhiara, directed by Bijan Sheibani, with choreography by Aline David, from 29th April, a co-production with ATC and the Drum Theatre Plymouth.
The spring season at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith will include: The Dark Side Of Buffoon, written and performed by John and Martin Marquez, a black comedy that brings to life the eccentric characters of a 19th century Italian circus troop, directed by Timothy Sheader, opening on 9th April; Spymonkey's fantastical retelling of Herman Melville's classic tale Moby Dick, the story of a hunter's obsession with a whale, directed by Jos Houben and Rob Thirtle, opening on 23rd April; the premiere of Simon Stephens, David Eldridge and Robert Holman's A Thousand Stars Explode In The Sky, 'an epic about hope, love, fear and the end of the universe', directed by Sean Holmes, opening on 12th May; and the Improbable theatre company with Keith Johnstone's Lifegame, incorporating storytelling, visual theatre, live music and object animation, dramatising the life story of a special guest who is interviewed on stage, from 6th July.
Cannibal! The Musical, adapted from his 1996 film by Trey Parker, directed by Frazer Brown, will play at the Leicester Square Theatre from 27th July. Based on a true story, it is the tale of the only American ever to be convicted of cannibalism in 1873, a man who led a group in search of gold across the Colorado Territory, where they lost their way and starvation set in. The producer is the Rival Theatre Company.
Theatre Delicatessen, the company committed to performing in new and unusual spaces, will stage a site specific production of Philip Ridley's Mercury Fur, about an East End gang who make a living by realising their clients' darkest fantasies, with Matt Granados, Chris Urch, Mawaan Rizwan, Isaac Jonnes, Ben Wigzell, Debra Baker and Tom Vickers, directed by Frances Loy, in a derelict building at 3 Picton Place, behind Selfridges, from 8th February to 13th March.
The spring season at the Rosemary Branch Theatre in Islington will include a double bill comprising William Whitehurst's Knuckeball, a love story for 21st century, with Laura Pradelska and Bryan Kaplan, and Graham Farrow's Stay With Me Till Dawn, a black fairytale of lonely men and vanished children, with Peter Glover, Mathew Haigh and George Xander, directed by Andy McQuade, from 19th January, produced by Second Skin Theatre; Waxing Lyrical, a bioplay about Marie Tussaud, written and performed by Judith Paris, directed by Ninon Jerome, from 9th February; Bobby Fincher's Lear And His Daughters, which relocates the story of Shakespeare's King Lear to the Swinging '60s, from 16th February, produced by Spadra Bus Theatre Company; Don Fried's Shakespeare Inc, which lifts the lid on who really wrote the classic plays, directed by Andy McQuade, from 2nd March, produced by Second Skin Theatre; and Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, adapted and directed by Scarlett Plouviez Comnas, in which three con artists take over a London house and set about trying to cheat, charm and scam their way to riches, from 23rd March.
Olivier Cotton's Wet Weather Cover, with Michael Brandon, Steve Furst and Pepe Balderrama, directed by Kate Fahy, will open at the King's Head Theatre in Islington on 28th January. Two actors, one British, one American, bicker and spar, while trapped in a leaking trailer, when the filming of an epic movie on location in Spain is delayed by torrential rain.
The Union Theatre Southwark's recent European premiere production of the musical A Man Of No Importance, book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, adapted from the 1994 film, with Paul Clarkson, Roisin Sullivan, Anthony Cable, Dieter Thomas, Paul Monaghan, Jamie Honeybourne, A J O'Neill, Joanna Nevin, Ruth Berkeley, Kimberly Ensor, Emily Juler, Nicola Redman, Niall Sheehy, Daniel Maguire, Patrick Joseph Kelliher, Barra Collins and Adam Davenport, directed by Ben De Wynter, with choreography by Phyllida Crowley-Smith, will transfer to the Arts Theatre off Leicester Square, opening on 10th February. Set in Dublin in the 1960s, it tells the story of a bus conductor who runs a community theatre group.
Jagged Fence Productions will stage Brendan Behan's The Hostage, with Chris Aylmer, Jonathan Battersby, Charles De Bromhead, Emily Dobbs, Christopher Doyle, Stephanie Fayerman, Ben James-Ellis, Gary Lilburn, Oengus Mac Namara, Miles Mlambo, Jess Murphy, Rhiannon Oliver, Caitlin Shannon, directed by Adam Penford, at the Southwark Playhouse, from 3rd February. It is set in a seedy Dublin boarding house in 1958, where the IRA captures a British soldier in an attempt to free a terrorist.
Lynn Howes's Stage Fright, a comedy about three actors vying for supremacy as they rehearse a new play, with Abi Titmuss, Sion Tudor-Owen and Alex Barclay, directed by Emma Taylor, will open at the Canal Cafe Theatre in Little Venice on 3rd February.
The winter season at the Theatre Royal Stratford East will include Nona Shepphard's Signs Of A Star Shaped Diva, a one person play with music about a mousey undertaker and her cabaret diva alter ego, performed by Caroline Parker, originally conceived and directed by Jenny Sealey, opening on 29th January, a co-production with Graeae Theatre Company; and Two Women, adapted from the novel by Martina Cole about East End violence and the pursuit of justice, from 19th February.