News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th August 1997

Sandpiper Productions has secured a unique deal to bring The Slow Drag, which premiered at the Freedom Theatre in February, to the West End, opening on 5th November. The musical will share the Whitehall Theatre with the Jack Docherty TV programme. Recording of the Channel 5 chat show will continue in the early evening Mondays to Thursdays, and The Slow Drag will be shown at 9.00pm with Friday and Saturday performances at 7.00pm and 9.30pm. In addition, the theatre has agreed to waive the rent until the show has repaid its production costs. The generous arrangement may owe something to the fact that Westminster City Council has been pressing the production company and the theatre to honour a commitment to combine live shows with TV use. With TV production facilities in the circle, only the stalls will be used, giving a capacity of 232. Even so, this arrangement should provide a secure financial framework for the three handed show. Carson Kreitzer's musical was inspired by the story of Billy Tipton, a female trumpeter who posed as a man to pursue her passion for jazz, and also a pale skinned black musician who had to pass as white in order to play in the clubs. (That covers most liberal causes, but sadly there's nothing for the animal liberationists at present.) The third character is Tipton's wife, a torch singer. Kim Criswell and Christopher Colquhoun repeat their previous roles and Lisa Forrell directs.

Jean Fergusson will bring She Knows You Know!, her one person show about the comedienne Hilda Baker, to the Vaudeville Theatre for a limited run in October. The show, for which she has been much feted, has toured extensively and also been broadcast on Radio 4. Jean Fergusson was last seen in the West End in Michael Cooney's Funny Money. Christopher Wren directs the Stars and Angels production.

The previously reported interactive-comedy-murder-mystery show set in a hairdressing salon Scissor Happy at the Duchess Theatre now has a confirmed opening date of 22nd October. The off Broadway show Shear Madness by Bruce Jordan and Marilyn Abrahams has been adapted for British audiences by Neil Mullarkey (who directs), together with Lee Simpson and Jim Sweeney who star, along with Nicola Stapleton. Stoll Moss Theatres are producing in association with the Comedy Store Players.

Les Miserables is closing for ten days to incorporate the changes which were made to the show in New York during the massacre des innocents, when most of the existing cast were forcibly removed from the barricades. There will therefore be no performances from 1st to 9th September.

Disney's Beauty And The Beast claims to have broken the West End box office record by taking 500,000 for eight shows in one week, and the daily advance record for the Dominion of 250,000.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Old Vic management have found productions of classics are like buses - you wait for ages then two come along at the same time. The Peter Hall Company production of The Seagull faces competition from the English Touring Company version at Donmar Warehouse; and their production of King Lear was pipped to the post by Richard Eyre's at the National.The Rumour Machine grinds on.