News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th September 2006

While presenting the National Theatre's Annual Report for 2005/06, Nicholas Hytner announces some future plans, including the extension of his initial five year contract by further five years. Forthcoming productions will include: Fiona Shaw in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days, directed by Deborah Warner; George Etheredge's The Man Of Mode, directed by Hytner; Ralph Fiennes in Oedipus, directed by Jonathan Kent; and the premieres of Nicholas Wright's The Reporter, about the suicide of television journalist James Mossman, with Ben Chaplin, directed by Richard Eyre; Michael Morpurgo's War Horse, adapted by Nick Stafford, directed by Marianne Elliott, in collaboration with South African puppet company Handspring; Emma Rice's A Matter Of Life And Death, adapted from the 1946 film about a British wartime pilot who is shot down, but puts and wins his case against dying; and new plays by Ayub Khan Din and David Hare. Attendances at the National during the year were 84% - down 10% on the all time high of the previous year, booted by the success of Alan Bennett's The History Boys, which is soon to be remounted in the West End. The company reported a deficit of 160,000 on its operating budget of 41m, but retains a surplus of 718,000 in reserves. During the year the National mounted 17 new main house productions, toured 8 productions, and transferred 4 productions to Broadway.

The annual London Pick Of The Fringe season, featuring double bills of the if.comeddies award winners and finalists, will run during October at the Garrick Theatre: 5th and 6th - Best Newcomer Josie Long with Kindness And Exuberance, and David O'Doherty performing David O'Doherty Is My Name; 7th - Michael McIntyre in An Evening With Michel McIntyre, and Brendon Burns with Part Three Of The Brendon Vs Burnsy Trilogy: Sober Not Clean; 13th and 14th - Paul Sinha performing Saint Or Sinha, and Mark Watson in I'm Worried That I'm Starting To Hate Almost Everyone In The World; 20th and 21st - Russell Howard with Wandering, and We Are Klang, performing Klangbang; and 26th - Stephen K Amos All Of Me, and the If.comeddies award winner Phil Nichol in The Naked Racist, which is also playing on 27th and 28th. This will be followed from 6th to 11th November by Charles Ross with his One Man Star Wars Trilogy.

The autumn season at Liverpool Playhouse and Everyman Theatre will include: at the Playhouse, Arthur Miller's All My Sons, about how a secret destroys a family, directed by Gemma Bodinetz, opening on 19th September; The Flint Street Nativity, Tim Firth's adaptation of his television film about a school nativity play, in which adults play the children and the classroom becomes a battle ground, directed by Matthew Lloyd, opening on 12th December; and at the Everyman, the world premiere of Chloe Moss's The Way Home, about the fallout from a boy running away from home to join a traveller community, directed by Sue Dunderdale, on 25th October; and Sarah Nixon and Mark Chatterton's rock 'n' roll pantomime, Jack And The Beanstalk - Twist And Sprout, directed by Chatterton, opening on 6th December.

Les Miserables reaches its 21st birthday on 8th October, when it will overtake Cats to becoming the world's longest running musical (that's not counting the Off Broadway musical The Fantasticks, which ran for over 17,000 performances at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village from May 1960 to January 2002). The occasion will be marked with a specially devised finale at the evening performance on Saturday 7th October. The show returns to Broadway on 24th October, opening at the Broadhurst Theatre. So far, it has been seen by over 54m people worldwide, in 38 countries, and in 21 languages.

Diversions dance company's autumn tour of Shades Of Passion, an international triple bill comprising Juan Carlos Garcia's Struck By Lightning, inspired by Michelangelo's lost painting 'The Battle of Cascina', Jerry Pearson's In Our Own Image, making visual effects to a soundtrack from the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and Roy Campbell-Moore's Up Close And Personal, delving into complex human relationships set to Mozart, opens at The Courtyard Centre for the Arts in Hereford on 26th September.

The autumn season at The Little Angel Theatre in Islington, home of British puppetry, will comprise: the Hans Andersen story The Little Mermaid, a classic marionette production with puppets hand carved and operated by Britain's leading puppeteers, Lyndie and Sarah Wright, Ronnie Le Drew and Roger Lade, performed to a soundtrack including the voices of Judi Dench and Michael Gambon, and excerpts from Janacek's Sinfonietta, together with Splish Splash, a new adaptation of the same story for 2 to 5 year olds, playing daytime performances in repertoire from 23rd September; and Lost & Found Theatre's production of Lost Moon, a show for adults and older children, based on a Lincolnshire folktale of rural superstition and moonlore, written and performed by Mandy Travis, with puppets designed by Nino Namitcheishvili and Peter O'Rourke, directed by Namitcheishvili, playing daytime and evening performances from 10th October. In addition, there will be workshops revealing backstage secrets and teaching how to make and develop puppets and create shows.

Arnold Ridley's comedy thriller The Ghost Train, with Stephen Beckett, Victor Spinetti, Geoffrey Davies, Julie Buckfield and Matthew Cottle, directed by Ian Dickens, opens a regional tour at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage on 26th September. Six passengers are stranded in the waiting room at a small Cornish station on a dark and gloomy night, where the stationmaster's stories of a 'ghost train' heard and seen rushing down the track seem to be coming true.

The Rumour Machine says: that Steven Berkoff is in talks with screenplay writer Budd Schulberg about adapting the 1954 film On The Waterfront, about an ex-prize fighter turned docker's battle with corrupt union bosses, for the West End stage; and that the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh's production of Improbable Frequency may transfer to Criterion Theatre early next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.