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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th March 2012

The nominations for this year's Laurence Olivier Awards, Britain's premier theatre awards, given by the Society Of London Theatre, are dominated by Matilda The Musical with 10 - every category for which it is eligible, including the four young actresses playing the title role; while Ghost The Musical received 4, including New Musical. Among the plays, The Ladykillers received 5, including New Play, Actress - Marcia Warren and Director - Sean Foley; as did One Man, Two Guvnors, including New Play, Actor - James Corden and Director - Nicholas Hytner. In addition, Tim Rice will receive a lifetime achievement award. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Opera House on 15th April, hosted by Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, which will be broadcast on television via the BBC Red Button, and shown on a screen in Covent Garden Piazza. Voting is now open to choose the winner of the Audience Award, giving theatregoers the chance to honour their favourite long running West End show. The full list of nominations and the voting form can be found on the SOLT web site via the link opposite and below.

This year's Edinburgh International Festival will run from 10th August to 2nd September. Theatre highlights will include large scale productions of Meine Faire Dame, loosely based on the story of My Fair Lady, but set in a contemporary language laboratory, directed by Christoph Marthaler; 2008: Macbeth, Shakespeare's play relocated to the contemporary Middle East, adapted and directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna; and Les Naufrages du Fol Espoir, about a socialist visionary shooting a spectacular silent film adapted from a Jules Verne adventure, directed by Ariane Mnouchkine. Opera highlights will include The Lady From The Sea, music by Craig Armstrong, libretto by Zoe Strachan, adapted from the play by Henrik Ibsen, directed by Harry Fehr; a double bill of In The Locked Room, music by Huw Watkins, libretto by David Harsent, based on a short story by Thomas Hardy, directed by Michael McCarthy, and Ghost Patrol, music by Stuart MacRae, libretto by Louise Welsh, directed by Matthew Richardson; and Clemency, music by James MacMillan, libretto by Michael Symmons Roberts, directed by Katie Mitchell. Dance highlights will include Ballet Preljocaj's And Then, One Thousand Years Of Peace, an all-consuming exploration of human rituals, beliefs and relationships; and Batsheva Dance Company's Hora, in which contemporary dance is mixed with science fiction. Further information can be found on the EIF web site, via the link form Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Royal Shakespeare Company will transfer two productions for a season at the Noel Coward Theatre. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, relocating the action to contemporary Africa, with Paterson Joseph, Cyril Nri, Ray Fearon and Jeffery Kissoon, directed by Gregory Doran, will play from 8th August; and Much Ado About Nothing, in an Indian setting, with Meera Syal, directed by Iqbal Khan, from 22nd September.

Two recent Royal Court Theatre productions will transfer to the Duke of York's Theatre for limited seasons. Laura Wade's Posh, about the members of a 'Bullingdon style' club, directed by Lyndsey Turner, will run from 23rd May to 4th August; and April de Angelis's Jumpy, which looks at the changing perceptions of life after the age of 50, with Tamsin Greig, directed by Nina Raine, will run from 28th August to 3rd November.

New York TheatreNet: Roundabout Theatre Company will stage the musical The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, book, music and lyrics by Rupert Holmes, adapted from Charles Dickens's final unfinished murder mystery novel, performed as in a Victorian Music Hall, with the audience voting on 'whodunit', featuring Chita Rivera, directed by Scott Ellis, at Studio 54 in the autumn. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

A Slow Air, written and directed by David Harrower, the story of a brother and sister in their mid 40s who live 50 miles apart but haven't spoken to each other in 14 years, with Susan Vidler and Lewis Howden, will open at the Tricycle Theatre, in Kilburn, on 10th May.

LIFT - the London International Festival of Theatre, presenting cutting edge companies from all over the world, will run from 12th June to 15th July, at 15 venues across London, with 7 world premieres. Events, many involving audience participation, will include: 66 Minutes In Damascus, created by Lebanese director Lucien Bourjeily, in which audiences will be 'arrested' by the Syrian secret service; the Australian Back to Back Theatre with Ganesh Versus The Third Reich, which imagines the Hindu god Ganesh travelling through Nazi Germany to reclaim the ancient Hindu symbol of the swastika; and Belarus Free Theatre with Minsk 2011 - A Reply To Kathy Acker, showing what it is like to live in their hometown now, celebrating and mourning a land that has lost its way. Further information can be found on the LIFT web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Victoria Hamilton, Ben Miles, Claire Foy and George Rainsford will feature in Mike Bartlett's Love, Love, Love, opening at the Royal Court Theatre on 3rd May; and Omid Djalili will be joined by Tim McInnerny, Samantha Bond and Georgia Moffett in Joe Orton's What The Butler Saw, opening at the Vaudeville Theatre on 16th May.

The King's Head Theatre in Islington will stage a season of plays by Arnold Wesker in honour of his 80th birthday, comprising Denial, about false memory syndrome, directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher, from 15th May; Caritas, an opera exploring personal freedom and religious fundamentalism, set against the backdrop of The Peasants' Revolt, music by Robert Saxton, directed by Pamela Howard, from 20th May; and The Wesker Trilogy: Revisited, adapted for the stage by Rachel Grunwald and Adam Spreadbury-Maher from an unproduced film script based on the trilogy of plays Chicken Soup With Barley, Roots and I'm Talking About Jerusalem, to be staged in April next year.

Noel Coward's Volcano, about the decadent and scandal ridden life of British ex-pats in 1950s Jamaica, with Jenny Seagrove, Dawn Steele, Jason Durr, Finty Williams, Perdita Avery, Tim Daish and Robin Sebastian, will open a national tour at the Theatre Royal in Windsor from 21st May. The producers are Thelma Holt and Bill Kenwright.

Walking Thoughts Theatre Company will stage Anastasia, by Marcelle Maurette, adapted by Kate Sellers and Andrei Vironov, about the attempt to pass off an imposter as the surviving daughter of the murdered Tsar Nicholas of Russia in order to lay hands on his fortune, directed by Kate Sellers, at Pushkin House, in Bloomsbury, from 26th March.