News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 15th November 2002

Following Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! at Christmas, the winter season at Sadler's Wells includes The Eifman Ballet Theatre of St Petersburg with the UK premieres of its dance melodramas Red Giselle, set against a backdrop of Soviet revolutionary artistic oppression, and Tchaikovsky, about the inner conflicts of the composer; and Lyon Opera Ballet with Maguy Marin's psychological reworking of Cinderella, and a triple bill comprising Meryl Tankard's Bolero, Ohad Naharin's Tabula Rasa and Trisha Brown's Newark.

The James Menzies-Kitchin Memorial Trust is inviting applications for the 2003 Young Theatre Director's Award. The Trust was formed in 1996 with the aim of assisting young untried directors. A Bursary of 6000 is awarded, together with a space at the Battersea Arts Centre to enable the recipient to direct a classic text of their choice for a three week run. Applicants must be theatre professionals under the age of 30 who have directed no more than two professional productions. The deadline for applications is 13th January. Further information can be found by calling 01608 662153 or on the JMK Trust web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Undeterred by the short run of their last Broadway show Sweet Smell Of Success earlier this year (despite the fact that John Lithgow won the Tony for Best Musical Actor), composer Marvin Hamlisch and lyricist Craig Carnelia are back with a new one - Imaginary Friends. It is a play with music, with a book by Nora Ephron, which tells the story of the rivalry between playwright Lillian Hellman and novelist Mary McCarthy. They barely knew each other, but became bitter enemies and legal adversaries. McCarthy went on a TV chat show and said of Hellman "Every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the'." Seconds out for Cherry Jones and Swoosie Kurtz, refereed by Jack O'Brien, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on 12th December.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Dept A reminder that this is the peak season for the purchase of Theatre Tokens. Available in units of 1, 5, 10 and 20, they can be exchanged for tickets at over 210 venues nationwide, including all West End theatres. As they have no expiry date, the recipient can choose which show they want to see, and when and where they want to see it. The Tokens are delivered in a presentation pack with a free theatre guide, and can be combined with programme, chocolate, drinks and meal packages. Tokens are available from most theatres, major bookshops and ticket agencies. Alternatively they can be bought direct from the 24/7 Tokenline on 020 7240 8800 or online from the Theatre Tokens web site via the link from The Emporium section of TheatreNet. Don't just give an object - give an emotional experience.

F Murray Abraham is to play Scrooge in the spectacular production of Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens musical version of A Christmas Carol, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York from 29th November to 29th December. A regular part of the city's Christmas scene since 1994, the show was originally directed by Mike Ockrent and choreographed by Susan Stroman, who now recreates it each season. It aims to rival the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show in scale, by turning the lobby into a Victorian market place, with carollers, street performers and food stalls. The show itself features the biggest theatrical set in the history of New York theatre, and the world's largest indoor snowfall. Previous Bah Humbugers have included Tim Curry, Frank Langella, Tony Roberts, Roger Daltrey, Roddy McDowell and Tony Randall.

The grade 1 listed Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond, North Yorkshire, is currently undergoing a 1m restoration, with a grant of 668,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Built in 1788 by actor manager Samuel Butler, it survives in its original form, and plays a key role in the understanding of the historical development of the English Playhouse. The form of the auditorium, with two levels of boxes surrounding a pit of bench seating, has seen a revival of interest in recent years, and has been emulated in venues such as the Tricycle. The stage is notable for including an open fireplace to keep the actors warm, the use of which is sadly precluded by current fire regulations. The adjoining museum (the first theatre museum in the country) devoted to records of its construction, management and operation during the last years of the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries, remains open during restoration. Further information can be found on the Georgian Theatre Royal web site via the Regional Theatres section of TheatreNet.

Tracy Shaw and Jason Connery are to star in a tour of David Hare's The Blue Room, directed by Joe Harmston, which opens a UK regional tour at Cambridge Arts Theatre on 3rd February. The producers are Green and Lenagan.

The London Bubble Theatre Company, which performs in parks during the summer, is coming indoors again for Christmas to present Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves at the Greenwich Theatre, from 9th December to 11th January. As always, writer and director Jonathan Petherbridge has given the traditional story a contemporary twist. The show plays extra daytime schools performances. Further information can be found on the London Bubble web site via the link from the UK Theatre Companies section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Sheridan Morley's directoral career is moving into top gear with a production of Enid Bagnold's The Chalk Garden, which will open at the Theatre Royal Windsor, play a short tour, and then transfer to the Gielgud Theatre in April, produced by Bill Kenwright, and a revised version of the 1950s Soho coffee bar rock'n'roll culture musical Expresso Bongo, book by Wolf Mankowitz and Julian More, music by David Heneker and Monty Norman, lyrics by Julian More, Monty Norman and David Heneker. The Rumour Machine grinds on.