News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th October 2004

Despite the fact that most people thought the rumour was a practical joke, Victoria Wood has actually written a stage musical version of Acorn Antiques, the spoof soap opera with dodgy production values featured in many of her television shows. It will open in the West End early in the new year, featuring the original cast of Victoria Wood, Julie Walters, Celia Imrie and Duncan Wood, directed by Trevor Nunn, and produced by Phil McIntyre.

The Theatre Investment Fund, which works to train and support new theatre producers, has metamorphosed into Stage One, and has launched a new way for theatre enthusiasts to invest - the Stage One Club. Since it was founded in 1976, the organisation has offered financial assistance and practical advice to new theatre producers, aiming to bring fresh blood to the industry, and investing 3.4m of funds into over 700 productions. The Stage One Club offers the opportunity to invest in new theatrical productions, so that for a minimum investment of 300, and a minimal administration fee, anyone can support new theatre, and (hopefully) take a share of any profits from the shows. Over 20m people attended theatre performances nationwide last year, 12m of them in London. Further information can be found on the new Stage One web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

The Dubya Trilogy, three satirical plays about different aspects of the war in Iraq, written and directed by Justin Butcher, with choreography by Aidan Treays, will run at the New Players Theatre from 19th October to 20th November. They are The Madness Of George Dubya (spoofing the film Dr Strangelove) and A Weapons Inspector Calls (spoofing the J B Priestly play), previously seen at the Arts Theatre, and the premiere of Guantanamo Baywatch (a blend of Alice In Wonderland and The Great Escape). The company comprises Russell Coulter, Jamie Bower, Stephen Chance, Alasdair Craig, Stephen Daltry, Mat Dominic, Dean Kelly, Gemma Larke, Barbara Hastings, Mark Heenahan, Harry Napier, Rupert Mason, Jack Wood and Jonah Russell, and the producers are Arnold McLaren Burnell Ltd and Passion Pit Theatre. This will be followed at the New Players Theatre by the London debut of American comedian Margaret Cho with State Of Emergency, her take on the current political climate in America, from 1st December to 1st January.

The Wigmore Hall reopened this week after a 3m refurbishment and restoration programme, designed by the Arts Team at RHWL. It has brought the entire Grade 2 listed building up to date, while respecting the spirit - and the celebrated acoustic - of the finely decorated auditorium. As well as installing new seating, lighting and air circulation system, and reconfiguring the Bechstein Room in the basement, the redecoration uncovered one of the original features of the Hall, a stencil that had been lost since 1916, but which is now restored. The 2004/2005 season is the first to be fully planned by Paul Kildea who became Artistic Director last year. As well as continuing the Wigmore's century old traditions, Kildea is introducing some new performers, and has commissioned new works that will receive their premieres later in the season. Further information can be found on the Wigmore Hall web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Unlimited Theatre's latest production, Zero Degrees And Drifting, written by Clare Duffy, Liz Margree, Jon Spooner and Chris Thorpe, and directed by Spooner, opens a national tour at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds on 20th October. Set in a lighthouse on the eroding cliff edge of a remote coastal town that is crumbling into the sea, it is about love, refuge and making contact. The cast is Elizabeth Besbrode, Sarah Belcher, Nathan Rimmel, Theron Schmidt and Chris Thorpe. It is a co-production with Sheffield Theatres with support from the Corn Exchang in Newbury.

Superstar architect Frank Gehry has been chosen from a field of 60 to design the performing arts complex that will be incorporated in the reconstruction of the World Trade Centre site in New York. It will comprise the Joyce Theater International Dance Center, into which the Joyce Theater Company will move, and the Signature Theatre Center, a three theatre cluster with 499 and 299 seater auditoria, and a flexible 99-199 seater studio, to which the Off Broadway Signature Theatre Company will relocate. The Joyce Theater is a receiving house for American and international dance companies. Signature says it will expand its current policy of producing seasons of work by a single playwright to 'three distinctive yet complimentary programs that will offer a year round showcase of the world's finest dramatists'.

Soho Theatre is now accepting entries for the Westminster Prize, an annual playwriting competition for playwrights of any age with or without experience, who live, work or study in Westminster. Entrants are invited to submit a short play (approximately 10 minutes long) with two characters, inspired by a photograph, which shows a key in some grass. The three winners will receive theatre tokens and the plays will be given a staged reading at Soho Theatre in the spring. There will be free workshops on 27th October and 8th December for anyone wanting advice or help in writing their play, but places are limited. The closing date for entries is 17th January. The photograph and further information can be found on the Soho Theatre website via the link from the London Theatres section of TheatreNet.

Nigel Havers will star in Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, in a new adaptation by Frank McGuiness, directed by Robert Jones, opening a national tour at the Theatre Royal Newcastle on 20th January. After the mysterious death of his first wife Rebecca, Maxim returns to his home Manderley, with a new, young and naive Mrs De Winter, who struggles to find her place in a house that is haunted by the memories of her seemingly perfect predecessor. The producer is David Pugh.

The Rumour Machine says: that The King Of Comedy will take to the stage in London, adapted and directed by Jeremy Sams, from Martin Scorsese's 1983 film about a man obsessed with becoming a comedian, who kidnaps his talk show host idol in order to perform his stand-up routine for him; that the Peter Hall Company production of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, with Penelope Keith, Aiden Gillett, Joanna Riding and Amanda Drew, first seen at the Theatre Royal Bath and currently touring, may find a West End home at the Savoy Theatre, thanks to the swift demise of the notoriously troubled Murderous Instincts; that producer Bill Kenwright plans to stage his West End transfer of the Almeida Theatre production Festen on Broadway next spring; that in order to maintain a public presence, Scottish Opera may tour a production in England during its dark 'reconstruction' period from June 2005 to June 2006 (which is a condition of its 7m bailout deal with the Scottish Executive) if it can secure funding form south of the border; and that Peter Gill is to direct a West End production of Days Of Wine And Roses, Owen McCafferty's new version of J P Miller's tale of the evils of alcoholism, produced by Sam Mendes's Scamp company. The Rumour Machine grinds on.