News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th March 2002

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Denise Deegan's schoolgirl saga Daisy Pulls It Off, directed by David Gilmore, will open on 29th April at the Lyric Theatre. Set in 1927, it follows the trials and tribulations of a working class scholarship girl at a public school. It features Hannah Yelland, Anna Francolini, Katherine Heath, Katherine Igoe, Emma Stansfield, Amber Edlin, Gailie Morrison, Helen Brampton, Louise McCarthy, Jenni Maitland, Maxine Gregory and Jane Mark, with Charlotte West-Oram and Roger Heathcott reprising their roles as the grownups, from the original production in 1983 at the Gielgud Theatre. The show is a Really Useful Group/Clear Channel Entertainment co-production.

The tired and emotional Royal Shakespeare Company has updated its plans for the forthcoming Stratford season in the light of defections. At The Swan Theatre, David Rintoul as Shakespeare's(?) Edward III will now be directed by Anthony Clark, and Antony Sher as Philip Massinger's The Roman Actor will now be directed by Sean Holmes.

Following its successful launch last year, which featured over 140 events in 60 venues across the capital, this year's London Comedy Festival, running from 18th to 26th May, will be even bigger and better. Encouraging new talent and community participation, the programme will include not just stand-up, but cabaret, a competition to find the best newcomer, comic street theatre (and on the underground), touring on an open top bus, classic comedy films and a cartoon expo. Registration for participation must be completed by the end of March. Further information about events and how to take part can be found on the LCF web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The BBC is to stage FA Cup Classic, a '3 Tenors style' event, combining popular classical music, show tunes and pop, alongside the Cup Final, at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday 3rd May. It will feature Lesley Garrett, Russell Watson, Willard White, A1, Faye Tozer, Bond, BBC Concert Orchestra and a 300 strong choir. If successful it will become an annual event.

The Royal Court Theatre has announced the remainder of its spring season, which comprises: Downstairs: Michael Wynne's The People Are Friendly, with Angela Clarke and Nick Moss, about a family reunion where old conflicts are reignited (is there any other kind?), directed by Dominic Cooke, from 12th June 6th July. Upstairs: Nick Grosso's Kosher Harry with Martin Freeman, directed by Kathy Burke, where a cabbie, an old woman in a wheelchair and the world's worst waitress encounter a stranger in a bar, from 23rd April to 11th May; Christopher Shinn's Where Do We Live, directed by Richard Wilson, about a solitary New York writer with an unhealthy interest in his neighbours, from 21st May to 8th June; and Helen Edmundson's Mother Teresa Is Dead, about what lies behind an English woman going to look after children in India, directed by Simon Usher, from 25th June to 13th July.

Paines Plough's latest production Helmet by Douglas Maxwell is currently playing a premiere season at the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, prior to a UK tour, which includes Soho Theatre from 15th May to 1st June. A story of male friendship and the obsessive nature of boys and their toys, it is based on the format of a computer game, and features specially commissioned digital animation by Arts in Motion and an accompanying soundtrack. It stars Ameet Chana and Tommy Mullins, and is directed by John Tiffany.

The Comedy Store has reintroduced its famous and feared Gong, on the last Monday of each month in London, and the first Sunday of each month in Manchester. The first half of the shows consist of new acts invited to perform ten minute spots, and established acts trying new material. The second half, when the Gong will be used, consist of brand new acts. Anyone brave enough to be interested in booking can find further information on the Comedy Store web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

It's Official 2! The previously mentioned Double Dame production of David Hare's new play The Breath Of Life, with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, about two women who have been involved with the same man, is to be directed by Howard Davies, and will open at the Haymarket Theatre in early October, produced by Robert Fox. The only question to settle now is which Dame gets the star dressing room? Of course, as it is haunted by former manager John Buckstone, that may be a mixed blessing.

The Lyric Theatre Hamersmith is presenting the only UK performances of The Junebug Symphony, by a new French alternative circus company La Compagnie du Hanneton, from 2nd to 13th April. This will be followed by Marivaux's The Island Of Slaves, translated and directed by Neil Bartlett, from 24th April to 8th June. This is a comedy of role reversal, as two masters and two servants, the sole survivors of a shipwreck, are washed up on a desert island.

This is a week of records on Broadway, as Disney's Beauty And The Beast entered the Top 10 longest runners of all time, with its 3,225th performance - kicking out the last remaining play, Russel Crouse's Life With Father. Meanwhile Les Miserables in the number 2 slot, behind the now departed Cats, celebrated its 15th birthday with its 6,190th performance.

The Cinema Theatre Association aims to study, appreciate and protect Britain's heritage of purpose built picture houses, particularly the extravagant cathedrals of the movies built in the 1920s and 1930s. Local authorities and heritage groups use the Association's expertise and extensive archive, and it has successfully obtained listed status for many buildings, preventing demolition. The CTA arranges regular visits to cinemas and theatres in Britain and abroad (such as a recent return visit to the famous Granada Tooting) and circulates two regular publications to members. Further information can be found on the CTA web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Ian Talbot's Open Air Theatre production of the Joe Papp Public Theater version of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates Of Penzance, currently touring with Gary Wilmot, Sue Pollard, David Alder and Joshua Dallas, is looking for a West End home; that cars don't fly as easily as the producers of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang though they would; and that Natascha McElhone may make her West End debut in Pierre Corneille's period comedy of intrigue The Liar, directed by Michael Radford. The Rumour Machine grinds on.