News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th March 2007

This year's Peter Hall Company season at the Theatre Royal in Bath running from 27th June to 25th August, will comprise: the world premiere of Simon Gray's Little Nell, based on Claire Tomalin's biography 'The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens', about the writer's all consuming passion for a girl young enough to be his daughter, with Tim Pigott-Smith, Tony Haygarth, Barry Stanton, Cressida Trew and Loo Brealey, directed by Peter Hall; the UK premiere of Athol Fugard's Victory, about the confrontation when an old colonial is burgled by his maid's daughter, with Richard Johnson and Pippa Bennett-Warner, directed by Cordelia Monsey; George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, the transformation of a flower seller into a lady, with Tim Pigott-Smith, Michelle Dockery, Tony Haygarth, Barry Stanton, Barbara Jefford and Una Stubbs, directed by Hall; Alan Ayckbourn's How The Other Half Loves, the lives and loves, passion and panic of three married couples, see through action taking place simultaneously at two dinner parties given on different nights, with Nicholas Le Prevost and Marsha Fitzalan; and in the Egg studio, Hall's adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm, the satirical allegory of Soviet totalitarianism, directed by Rachel O'Riordan.

The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm is to launch Circus Front, the first of what will become a biennial event featuring contemporary circus, from 21st June to 5th August. It will comprise performances by French company Collectif AOC, with a show that blends dance, acrobatics and innovative design to create an energised comic performance; Collectif Acrobatique de Tangier, weaving traditional Moroccan acrobatics and modern performance in an exploration of North African culture, with live traditional music; Australian Acrobat, presenting an intimate show that sees the razzmatazz stripped away as artists perform nude, revealing the straining of muscle and sinew; and British Nofit State Circus, with an all immersing experience in which the action of trapeze artists, tightrope walkers and tumblers happens all around and among the audience.

Never Forget, a musical featuring the back catalogue of the group Take That, with a book by Danny Brocklehurst, about a Take That tribute band, directed by Ed Curtis, with choreography by Karen Bruce, will open a prospective pre West End tour at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 20th July. The producers are Tristan Baker and Bronia Buchanan.

The Royal Opera House is continuing its ROH2 series of innovative and experimental small scale dance, opera and music events, staged in the Linbury Theatre and Clore Studio. Upcoming highlights include: Benjamin Britten's Owen Wengrave, adapted from a Henry James story about the impact on a family when their son rejects its proud military history, with Jacques Imbrailo, Steven Page, Thomas Walker, Vivian Tierney, Elizabeth Woolett, Allison Cook, Richard Berkeley Steele and Jennifer Rhys-Davies, directed by Tim Hopkins; a double bill of Echo And Narcissus, in which choreographer Cathy Marston and composer Stuart McRae blend dance, opera and live video to explore the themes of the Greek myth from Ovid's Metamorphoses and Eros ~Eris, in which Liz Lea and Sarah Rubidge collaborate to create a live intermingling of real and virtual worlds, accompanied by composer John Metcalfe; and Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's musical Into The Woods, which brings a dark and contemporary adult view to the idea of 'happy ever after' fairy stories, featuring Anne Reid, Beverley Klein, Clive Rowe, Gillian Kirkpatrick, Peter Caulfield, Elizabeth Brice, Martin Nelson, Suzanne Toase, Linda Hibberd, Nicholas Garrett, Katrina Murphy, Nic Greenshields and Byron Watson, with Will Tuckett making his musical theatre directoral debut, from 18th to 30th June.

The musical Grease will open at the Piccadilly Theatre on 8th August, with the two leading roles cast from a 'reality' television programme. It will be the Bee Gees enhanced version of Warren Jacobs and Jim Casey's classic '50s high school musical, including the additional songs written for the film, directed by David Gilmore and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, which has played in the West End and toured extensively. The producer is David Ian.

Ortonesque: Joe Orton 1933 - 1967 is an exhibition taking a chronological look at the life and times of the playwright Joe Orton, including his relationship with Kenneth Halliwell, the time spent in prison and on the dole, his alter ego 'Edna Welthorpe', his holidays in Morocco, his plays, novels and diaries, and his death and legacy. It features original items and memorabilia, including the 1967 Evening Standard Award for the play Loot, his Morocco diaries, the fur coat that his agent, Peggy Ramsay, bought him, the Adler typewriter that he used for many years, and several of the vandalised Islington Library book covers, together with literary and personal papers, comprising scripts, photographs, posters, programmes, scrapbooks, letters and manuscripts. The display runs at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester until 7th May.

Ian Marshall Fisher's Lost Musicals series, presenting neglected shows by great American Broadway theatre writers, is returning with a new season of semi-staged performances on Sunday afternoons at the Lilian Baylis Theatre. Can-Can, music and lyrics by Cole Porter, book by Abe Burrows, set in Paris in 1893 about a challenge to the indecency laws in Le Bal du Paradis dance hall, with Valerie Cutko, Christopher Dickins, Selina Chilton, Lara Denning, Sarah Applewood, Joanna Fell, Stewart Permutt, James Vaughan, Ahmet Ahmet, Christopher Stanton, David Phipps Davis, Alex Brown, and Fabio Tassone, will play in April. Around The World In Eighty Days, music and lyrics by Cole Porter, book by Orson Welles, adapted from Jules Verne's Victorian story of an attempt to encircle the globe in eighty days, will play in June and July. All performances are preceded by introductory talks from guest speakers.

The 1994 Edinburgh Festival production of Dan Wasserman's adaptation of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, directed by Terry Johnson and Tamara Harvey, which transferred to at the West End, and played a further season in 2006, will open a regional tour at the Theatre Royal Plymouth on 4th April, with Shane Richie. It tells the story of a gambler who has faked psychosis to avoid jail, but finds that life in a mental hospital is worse than he bargained for.

The Rumour Machine says: that Richard Maltby Jr and David Shire's musical Take Flight, based on the history of manned flight and the Wright Brothers, will receive its world premiere at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark this summer; and that and the long running Broadway musical adaptation of Hairspray, the 1988 John Waters film about how the Swinging '60s hit Baltimore, with book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, music by Mark Shairman and lyrics by Scott Wittman, directed by Jack O'Brien, will finally arrive in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre in the autumn. The Rumour Machine grinds on.