News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th March 2001

Alistair Beaton's political satire Feelgood, about a group of spin doctors writing a conference speech for the Prime Minister, which had a sell out premiere at Hampstead Theatre, will open at the Garrick Theatre on 26th April. It stars Henry Goodman as Al… I'm sorry, a Downing Street spokesman, plus Amita Dhiri, Nigel Planer, Pearce Quigley, Jeremy Swift and Sian Thomas. The director is Max Stafford Clark and the Hampstead Theatre/Out of Joint co-production is presented Max Weitzenhoffer and Lee Dean.

Stephen Daldry's National Theatre production of J B Priestley's An Inspector Calls, which has been at the Garrick for six years, will close on 14th April but is vowing to return to the West End in the autumn.

The Arts Council of England is to be reorganised in an effort to streamline the process of dealing with funding applications, with the aim of providing a simpler, faster and more client friendly service. The Council will subsume the current Regional Arts Boards (which will become advisory panels) to create a single arts funding and development organisation for all the arts throughout England. This should reduce bureaucracy, which will both speed up the process and cut administration costs, thereby releasing extra money for funding.

The Edinburgh Fringe is making a fresh assault on the West End. Confirming the previous rumour, David Baddiel and Frank Skinner will present a stage version of their television show Unplanned at the Shaftesbury Theatre for a four week season from 17th April. The unscripted and unrehearsed show started life at the Pleasance in 1998. Perrier Award winner Al Murray returns in his Pub Landlord persona with a new show My Gaff, My Rules at the Playhouse Theatre for an eight week season from 17th April.

Fringe regular Simon Munnery (AKA The League Against Tedium) will bring his Attention Scum! show to the Soho Theatre from 9th to 27th April. The Conor McPherson double bill seen at the Fringe last year is also coming to the Soho from 30th April to 10th May, prior to an international tour. In Rum And Vodka Alan Mooney tells the story of a man who embarks on a wild drinking spree after throwing his boss's computer terminal out of the window. In The Good Thief Brendan Fleming portrays an Irish gangland hit man who has an attack of conscience. Meanwhile in the Soho Theatre Studio, Robert Newman will be appearing on Fridays from 20th April to 22nd June, and Mark Thomas on Saturdays from 21st April to 23rd June.

Carlton Communications is in discussions with the Ambassador Theatre Group about investing £2m in theatre production, with a view to translating stage shows to television, and visa versa. ATG recently signed a similar joint development agreement for stage productions with Natural Nylon, the company formed by Ewan McGregor, Jude Law and Sadie Foster to develop British films.

Francesca Annis and Anthony Andrews star in Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts opening at the Comedy Theatre on 2nd April, following a season at the Theatre Royal Windsor. The play caused great controversy when originally staged because of the way its theme of morality, family and guilt is developed. Robin Philips directs and the producer is Bill Kenwright.

On The Casting Couch: Denise van Outen, American Leigh Zimmerman, James Gaddas and Barry James are joining Chicago at Adelphi Theatre on 17th April; Ben Daniels is to star in Christopher Hampton's Tales From Hollywood at the Donmar Warehouse in April; Rachel Weisz returns to the stage in Neil LaBute's The Shape Of Things at the Almeida Kings Cross in May; and Diana Rigg partners Dennis Quilley and Simon Russell Beale in Charlotte Jones Humble Boy at the National Theatre in August.

The Covent Garden Festival of opera and music theatre, running from 12th May to 2nd June, continues its inventive juxtaposition of show and venue - some old and some new. Highlights include: Gilbert & Sullivan's Trial By Jury returning to the Royal Courts of Justice, and HMS Pinafore performed on board HMS President; Handel's Clori, Tirsi & Fileno at the night club Heaven; the British debut of American a cappella group Lionheart in The Field Of Gold at the Temple Church; Penelope Keith as Elizabeth I in The Regina Monologues at St Paul;'s Church; Judy Glen (the Diva from Downunder) in A Comedy Of Arias at Australia House; and a Discovering Opera Weekend and Julain Slade and Robin Miller's musical Vanity Fair at the Theatre Museum. Full details from the Covent Garden Festival web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

New Musicals Alliance in association with FACADE is repeating its "Month Of Sundays" course for writers in the Craft Of Musical Theatre Writing on 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th May at Goldsmith's College. It features seminars with top writers, composers and directors, including Anthony Drewe, Mary Stewart-David, George Stiles and Chris Walker, and the opportunity to collaborate on projects with different writing partners. The course is ideal for writers from the pop, classical and light entertainment fields wishing to learn about musical theatre. For details contact Jeremy Peyton Jones at Goldsmith's on 020 7919 7200 or email

The Rumour Machine says: that Ben Elton is writing a show using the songs of Queen along the lines of Mamma Mia! which is aiming for the West End later this year; Michael Blakemore's current Tony Award winning Broadway production of Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate will open at the Victoria Palace in the autumn: and that Song Of Singapore, the Off Broadway spoof 40's musical set in a night-club at the fall of Singapore, which was a hit at Chichester three years ago starring Issy Van Randwick, may finally be getting a West End outing. The Rumour Machine grinds on.