News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th June 1998

British contenders once again did well in Broadway's Tony Awards. The Lion King with music and lyrics by Elton John and Tim Rice was voted Best Musical, with Richard Hudson taking Best Scenic Designer; Sam Menndes ex Donmar Warehouse production of Cabaret won Best Musical Revival, with its stars Alan Cumming and Natasha Richardson winning Best Actor and Actress in a Musical; Matthew Warchus production of Yasmina Reza's Art was Best Play; and also British by adoption, The Beauty Queen Of Leenane took four awards.

Although Sadlers Wells Theatre will reopen in October as a state of the art building, it will be returning to its source. As a way of supplementing income, it will be bottling and selling its own water. There has been a medicinal spring on the site since Roman times, which was rediscovered by Thomas Sadler in 1683. He opened a spa, and built Sadlers Musick House to encourage trade. There have been many different entertainments and buildings on the site since then, although there has not been a working well for over a century. The reopening season will include Rambert Dance Company with Cruel Garden by Lindsay Kemp and Christopher Bruce; a Christmas season by the Royal Opera featuring new productions of The Bartered Bride and Rimsky-Korsakov's The Golden Cockerel; visits from Birmingham Royal Ballet, Green Candle and Northern Ballet; and a four month residency by the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet from April.

Property millionaire Martin Graham, who despite clashes with the local council, has successfully launched his own Glyndebourne style opera festival at Longborough in the Cotswolds, wants to move into the West End. His aim is to build a new small scale opera house, not unlike the Royal College of Music's Britten Theatre, to be run without subsidy as a strictly commercial venture, based on his Longborough experience. It is expected that cost of the venue would be defrayed from a larger property development project.

The Unicorn Children's Theatre, resident at the Arts Theatre, is on the brink of collapse. Since taking over as Artistic Director/General Manager a year ago Tony Graham has been trying to deal with the accumulated deficit of 150,000. He has now launched an appeal for 200,000 to establish a firm financial footing for the company's future. Corporate donations have so far raised half the money, but a positive response from individuals will be needed if the company is to reach the target.

The Vivian Ellis Prize received 144 musicals, created by 208 different writers, ranging in age from 10 to 81. These have been assessed by two different readers, and 80 have moved forward into the second round for further consideration. Readers include David Benedict, Dan Crawford, Anthony Drewe, James Hammerstein, Roger Redfarn and Wendy Toye. This year the Prize has expanded into four awards: Most Promising Lyricist, Most Promising Composer and Most Promising Bookwriter, in addition to Most Promising Musical. It is also moving its finalists Showcase on 1st October to larger premises - the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The Prize is still seeking support from anyone willing to become a Friend or Sponsor one of the awards. Details are on their web site, via our Information section.

The Rumour Machine says: that Cameron Mackintosh is working on a musical adaptation of John Updike's The Witches Of Eastwick; and that despite losing 100,000 on their last venture (the five month rep season at the Mermaid Theatre) Roy Marsden is joining forces with Vanessa Ford again to produce a stage adaptation of Ray Rigby's novel The Hill in the autumn.The Rumour Machine grinds on.