News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th January 2004

Jerry Springer - The Opera, Ragtime and Pacific Overtures have each scooped up eight nominations for this year's Laurence Olivier Awards. The don't have it all their own way however, as Thoroughly Modern Millie has five, including Amanda Holden and Maureen Lipman going head to head for Best Actress In A Musical. As always, the National Theatre is strongly represented with twenty nominations, including Kenneth Branagh in Edmond and Roger Allam in Democracy vying for Best Actor, Eileen Atkins in Honour and Helen Mirren in Mourning Becomes Electra competing for Best Actress, and three of the four nominations for Best New Play. Donmar Warehouse clocks up twelve, between Pacific Overtures and Caligula.The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Hilton Park Lane on Sunday 22nd February. Full details can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite below.

Romola Garai, Daniel Weyman, Imelda Staunton and Dermot Crowley star in the premiere of Michael Hasting's Calico, directed by Edward Hall, opening at the Duke Of York's Theatre on 3rd March. The play explores the secret relationship between the playwright Samuel Beckett and Lucia, the daughter of the novelist James Joyce, in Paris during the 1920s.

The Greater London Authority and the Society Of London Theatre are staging a second Get Into London Theatre promotion, designed to encourage new and young theatregoers. Discounted tickets are available for over 70 shows, encompassing West End, fringe and suburban theatres. Tickets are at 10, 15, 20 or 25 for selected performances until Sunday 28th March, but bookings must be made by 27th February. Thirty restaurants are taking part with accompanying deals, and there are also hotels offering special mini-breaks. Further information can be found on the on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite below.

Gillian Anderson, Nancy Crane and Kate Harper star in the premiere of The Sweetest Swing In Baseball, by American writer Rebecca Gilman, directed by Ian Rickson, opening at the Royal Court Theatre on 31st March. It is the story of a painter who has a mid life crisis when the critics savage her exhibition.

Broadway grossed a record breaking $725.47m in 2003, according to figures announced by the League of American Theatres and Producers. This is entirely attributable to an increase in seat prices however, as attendances were slightly down, with 11.12m admissions against 11.41m the previous year. The total number of playing weeks also fell, from 1,459 to 1,511. Over 75% of tickets sold were for musicals. Analysis of the Broadway audience shows that international tourists made up 6%, which is still way below the pre 11th September 2001 average of 10%, with New York City residents at 18%, NYC suburbanites 27%, and domestic visitors 49%; the average age was slightly lower than the previous year at 43; and 64% was female. Their preferred booking methods were: in person at the box office 23.1%, by phone 18%, and online 14.1% - a growth of more than 20 times over the last three years.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the National Theatre production of Michael Frayn's Democracy, directed by Michael Blakemore, will transfer to Wyndham's Theatre on 20th April. The play looks at the relationship between West German chancellor Willy Brandt and his personal assistant Gunter Guillaume, who was a spy for the East German Stasi. Roger Allam and Conleth Hill continue in the leading roles, with Nicholas Blane, Paul Broughton, Jonathan Coy, Christopher Ettridge, Paul Gregory, Glyn Grain, Steven Pacey and David Ryall. It is presented by Michael Codron and Lee Dean.

The latest exhibition at the Theatre Museum is Observe And Show: The Theatre Art Of Michael Annals, a retrospective of the work of the great theatre designer. Annals gave a distinctive visual stamp to many of the most revered productions of the National Theatre in its early years at the Old Vic under Laurence Olivier, including the premiere of Peter Shaffer's The Royal Hunt Of The Sun. He also designed productions for the West End, Broadway, the Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and the London Festival (now English National) Ballet.

The spring season at Greenwich Theatre includes: the Red Shift Theatre Company production of Bartleby, a black comedy set in a legal practice in the 1850s, adapted from the novel by Herman Melville by R L Lane, directed by Jonathan Holloway; Pilot Theatre Company with the premiere of Bloodtide, a story derived from Norse legend about the corrupting nature of power, adapted and directed by Marcus Romer, from the novel by Melvin Burgess; the comedy duo LipService, as a cast of thousands deconstructing Louisa May Alcott, in Very Little Women; and Urban Expansion with Once Upon A Time In Wigan, a comedy musical extravaganza celebrating the life and times of the Wigan Casino in the 1970s, as it morphed from dance hall to rave culture, by Mick Martin, directed by Paul Sadot.

The Theatre Investment Fund and the Society Of London Theatre, in association with the Arts Council of England, is inviting further applications for a New Producer's Bursary. The bursaries are intended to support individuals in progressing their careers as theatre producers. Successful applicants will be able to use the bursary to develop and/or present a new production. In addition to a broad package of financial assistance of up to 15,000 per applicant, the scheme also provides the benefit of an established industry figure as a mentor for the project. For further information and an application form, send an A4 SAE to: New Producer's Bursary, Theatre Investment Fund, 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET. The closing date for this round of applications is 28th February.

The Rumour Machine says: that Kristin Scott Thomas may be heading back to the West End in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, in a new translation by Christopher Hampton, directed by Michael Blakemore; that the New End Theatre Hampstead, which is to feature Frank Skinner as Stan Laurel in an upcoming production, is looking for an Oliver Hardy; that contrary to previous rumours, the next American star vehicle production of a David Mamet play will be the uncharacteristic backstage drama A Life In The Theatre; and that following the Royal Opera House's occupation of his turf by performing Sondheim, Nicholas Hytner is considering a counter attack by staging a Handel opera at the National Theatre. The Rumour Machine grinds on.