News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th February 2007

The National Theatre has confirmed further productions in its spring season: in the Olivier, Tom Morris and Emma Rice's adaptation and re-imagining A Matter Of Life And Death, the expressionist 1945 Powell and Pressburger film, about a British wartime pilot who is shot down, but puts and wins his case against dying, with Douglas Hodge, Lyndsey Marshal and Tristan Sturrock; in the Lyttelton, the premiere of Ayub Khan-Din's Rafta, Rafta…, about the aftermath of a wedding, with Meera Syal and Harish Patel, directed by Nicholas Hytner; and Maxim Gorky's Philistines, in a new adaptation by Andrew Upton, a darkly comic play in which a group of young radicals party and philosophise, with Rory Kinnear and Ruth Wilson, directed by Howard Davies; and in the Cottesloe: the premiere of Matt Charman's The Five Wives Of Maurice Pinder, with Sorcha Cusack, Adam Gillen, Carla Henry, Clare Holman, Martina Laird, Larry Lamb and Steve John Shepherd, directed by Sarah Frankcom.

Future plans at the National include Michael Morpurgo's War Horse, adapted by Nick Stafford, about a boy who goes to the battlefield in the First World War to rescue his horse, directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliott, in collaboration with South African puppet company Handspring; Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, with Zoe Wanamaker and Simon Russell Beale, directed by Nicholas Hytner; Harold Pinter's The Hothouse, a black comedy set in a state run mental hospital, directed by Ian Rickson; Noel Coward's Present Laughter, about the home life of a matinee idol, with Alex Jennings, directed by Howard Davies, Euripides's The Women Of Troy, directed by Katie Mitchell; and Sophocles's Oedipus The King, with Ralph Fiennes, directed by Jonathan Kent; plus two premieres: Swedish author Victoria Benedictsson's The Enchantment, directed by Paul Miller, and Simon Stephens's Harper Regan, directed by Marianne Elliot.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Antony Sher in the title role of Kean, Jean-Paul Sartre's play, based on Alexandre Dumas pere's original, translated by Frank Hauser, telling the onstage/backstage story of the notorious 19th century Shakespearian actor, who combined legendary performances in all the classical roles at Drury Lane, with a very colourful private life, will open at the Apollo Theatre on 30th May. The company comprises Sam Kelly, Joanne Pearce, Robert East and Jane Murphy, directed by Adrian Noble, and the producer is Thelma Holt.

English National Ballet's current national tour features Will Tuckett's The Canterville Ghost, based on Oscar Wilde's novella, the comic tale of an American family who buy a medieval English manor house that is haunted by a 300 year old ghost; and Melody On The Move, a triple bill comprising

Christopher Hampson's Sinfonietta Giocosa, a trio for two men and a woman in neo-classical Balanchine-inspired style, David Dawson's A Million Kisses To My Skin, set to the baroque style patterns of Bach's Piano Concerto No 1, and Michael Corder's Melody On The Move, a celebration in dance of the music of the 1930s, '40s and '50s. In July the company will perform Derek Deane's Swan Lake outdoors in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in Paris. Anthony Dowson will create a new family ballet for children, Angelina's Star Performance, based on the character Angelina Ballerina preparing a performance of The Sleeping Beauty, which will premiere at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 6th September.

New York TheatreNet: The Metropolitan Opera is to present live high definition relays of 3 of its productions to 12 cinemas across Britain from Edinburgh to Exeter. Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, with Renee Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Ramon Vargas, will be screened on 24th February; a new production of Rossini's The Barber Of Seville, with Juan Diego Florez, Joyce DiDonato, Peter Mattei and John Del Carlo, directed by Bartlett Sher, on 24th March; and a new production of Puccini's Il Trittico, with Maria Guleghina, Barbara Frittoli, Stephanie Blythe, Salvatore Licitra and Alessandro Corbelli, directed by Jack O'Brien, on 28th April. Further information can be found on the Picturehouses web site, via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The spring season at Greenwich Theatre includes: the Watermill Theatre Newbury's production of Ben Travers's classic farce Plunder, which centres on a society burglary, directed by Heather Davies; Northern Broadsides 'e bah gum' style The Tempest, directed by Barrie Rutter; the Compass Theatre Company production of Arthur Miller's The Price, about the uneasy reunion of two long estranged brothers, who meet after many years to dispose of their dead father's belongings, directed by Neil Sissons; and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story The Hound Of The Baskervilles, adapted by Clive Francis, with Peter Egan and Philip Franks, directed by Robin Herford.

Sadler's Wells is staging its 4th annual Flamenco Festival from 23rd February to 3rd March, directed and produced by Miguel Marin. It will feature appearances by Ballet Flamenco Eva Yerbabuena, Rosa Torres Pardo, Lola Greco and José Antonio Rodriguez, Estrella Morente, Malaga en Flamenco, Isabel Bayon Compania Flamenca with Miguel Poveda, Geerado Nunez Quintet, Compania Flamenca Carmen Cortes, and Gala de la Bienal de Sevilla.

The previously mentioned UK premiere production of Jeanie Linders's Off Broadway hit Menopause The Musical, with Miquel Brown, Samantha Hughes, Su Pollard and Amanda Symonds, directed by Kathryn Conte, with choreography by Patty Bender, opening at the Shaw Theatre on 18th April, is to face competition from a British Rival. Hot Flush! A Menopausal Musical, book by Julie Benson and music and lyrics by Olly Ashmire, with Sheila Ferguson, Rachel Izen, Rula Lenska, Marti Webb and Sam Kane, directed by Alan Cohen, will open a national tour at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley on 13th March.

The Italian company Teatro Kismet is currently touring its production of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, adapted and directed by Teresa Ludovico, featuring Augusto Masiello, Elisa Canessa, Elisabetta di Terlizzi, Sonia Diaz, Eve Guerrier, Franceso Manenti and Daniele Pilli, until 15th April, produced by Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse. It is performed in English. The company is renowned for creating visually stunning theatre, combining physical performance, aerial acrobatics and choreography, with music, humour and inventive storytelling, appealing to both children and adults.

Move It 2007, the dance exhibition at Olympia from 16th to 18th March, will bring together all kinds of dance, with 100 performances, 140 classes, 20 seminars and masterclasses, and 140 commercial exhibitors. 45 minute taster classes, in everything from bollywood to ballroom, jazz to street, and ballet to salsa, costing just £2, will run continuously in 6 studios from 10.30am to 7pm on the first two days and 5pm on the final day.