News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th October 1999

As exclusively forecast here last week, Casper The Musical will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 8th December. It is based on Casper The Friendly Ghost created by Joseph Oriolo in 1945, a spook who is a helper, not a haunter, which has been previously adapted both in animation and live action films. Book and lyrics are by David H Bell (who also directs) with music by Henry Marsh and Phil Pickett. The producer is Stadivarious Productions.

Lee Hall's Cooking With Elvis, an Edinburgh Fringe success, is looking for a West End home at the end of November. The premise is the interaction of a food loving 14-year-old girl, her paraplegic father (formerly an amateur Elvis impersonator), her sex driven anorexic mother, and the man both mother and daughter fall for - the perfect Fringe show. It features Sharon Percy, Trevor Fox and Joe Caffrey, and is directed by Max Roberts. PW Productions presents the Live Theatre Production.

As part of a reassessment of the guidelines it uses to classify films and videos, the British Board of Film Classification is holding a series of public presentations across the country. At each of these, a number of film clips will be shown, and audiences asked to consider the reasons behind the Board's classification decisions, in order to gauge public reaction to its current policies. Admission is free, but by ticket only to people 18 years of age and over. The BBFC has been classifying films since 1913, and videos since 1985, and examines over 4,000 items a year. For further details and to apply or check out the BBFC web site via the link from the TheatreNet Organisations section.

Although BITE:99 (Barbican International Theatre Event) has only just finished, plans for BITE:00, running from May to October, are well under way. Theatre companies will include Comedie-Francaise in Moliere's Les Fourbeires de Scapin, directed by Jean-Louis Benoit; Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Dale Wasserman's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest adapted from Ken Kesey's novel, featuring co-founder Gary Sinise: and the Abbey Theatre Dublin in Thomas Kilroy's The Secret Fall Of Constance Wilde, directed by Patrick Mason. Among the visiting dance companies will be the Deborah Colker Dance Company, Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu, Ballet Atlantique-Regine Chopinot, and Merce Cunningham Dance Company with Biped, a new piece co-commissioned by the Barbican, which uses virtual dancers - three dimensional moving outlines and video projections created by digital artists Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar - with 15 live dancers. Performance events will include The Builders Association in Jet Lag and Circus Eloize in Excentricus.

It is now confirmed that The Witches Of Eastwick, with book and lyrics by John Dempsey and music by Dana P Rowe, will open at Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 13th June. In a small New England town three bored women yearn for a little excitement, but when their conjuring is made flesh in the form of the mysterious Darryl Van Horn, all hell breaks loose. The auditorium is to be remodelled/reseated to reduce the capacity from 2,240 to 1650, thus taking out of commission the second largest theatre in London for no really good reason. Advance booking opens on 16th October. Casting speculation is still intense, with Lucie Arnaz, Joanna Riding and Maria Friedman the current hot tips.

Derby Playhouse is presenting the world premiere of Martin McDougall's first play "a romantic black and bizarre comedy" Watching The Sand From The Sea, from 19th October to 6th November. A man and a woman are thrown together in an empty beach house during a storm, where fantasy and reality blur into one. Innovative special effects blend cinema style with the live theatre experience. Tyler Butterworth and Josephine Butler are the couple, and the director is Mark Clements. As Criterion Productions is the co-producer, a West End appearance cannot be ruled out.

Performing Arts Labs present their first ever London showcase of new work at the New Ambassadors Theatre from 10.00am to 5.30pm on 3rd, 4th and 5th November. Plays developed for younger audiences by Moira Buffini, Douglas Maxwell, Helen Adams, Judy Upton, Jane Buckler, Glyn Maxwell, Helen Kelly and Peter Oswald will be shown in rehearsed readings, directed by John Retallack and Ben Harrison. The event will also offer presentations and discussions on the themes of Content, Space and Form, chaired by Lyn Gardner, with contributions from amongst others: Phelim McDermott, Bryony Lavery, Melvin Burgess Rosamunde Hutt, Ad de Bont, Snoo Wilson, Michael Rosen, Vicky Ireland and Tony Graham. Tickets are available from the New Ambassadors box office.

Placido Domingo will conduct a free lunchtime concert on 4th December at 1.00pm, launching the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House. The programme will include Wagner's Siegfred Idyll and Bach's double violin concerto. Tickets will be available to personal callers at the box office only, from 10.00am on the morning of the concert, and restricted to two per person.

The next new play from Alan Ayckbourn - Britain's most prolific playwright since Ernie Wise - will be Virtual Reality. It premieres at the Stephen Joseph Theatre from 3rd to 12th February and then tours before returning in the summer. A man leaves his wife to move in with his lover, who is an actress, but soon he is not the only one questioning how he's performing his new role. A comedy in which art holds the mirror up to nature - or is it the other way round?

The Oxford Stage Company's residency at the Whitehall Theatre will conclude with the previously announced presentation of Mike Cullen's Anna Weiss, produced by Sally Vaughan and Richard Jordan. Michael Attenborough will now direct. OSC will mount a spring tour of Robert Holman's trilogy Making Noise Quietly, a revival of the opening production of the Whitehall season, and a new production of Troilus And Cressida.