News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th April 2004

Opera North has just opened a national tour at the Grand Theatre in Leeds with a programme of eight one act operas under the banner of 8 Little Greats, performed by an ensemble of 19 singers, and presented in a variety of double bills. While Leoncavallo's Pagliacci is inevitably present, Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana isn't, but these rare gems from different periods are: Zemlinsky's The Dwarf, de Falla's La vida breve, Puccini's Il tabarro, Bizet's Djamileh, Rachmaninov's Francesca de Rimini, Rossini's Love's Luggage Lost and Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins. The tour concludes at Sadler's Wells from 22nd to 26th June.

West End Bound: Following a national tour, Derren Brown, the television magician, will bring his stage show Derren Brown Live to the Palace Theatre for a two week run from 7th June.

The next productions at the Bush Theatre are: David Eldridge's M.A.D., a family drama exploring the gap between the lifestyles and aspirations of a son and his parents, moving between 1984 and today, with Lewis Chase, Gerald Lepkowski, Daniel Mays, Joanne McInness and Lee Ross, directed by Hettie Macdonald, running from 23rd April to 22nd May; and Steve Thompson's Damages, examining the 'moral' choices to be made about a potential exclusive in the newsroom of a tabloid newspaper, directed by Roxana Silbert, plays from 4th June to 3rd July.

Sotheby's is holding a sale of personal items belonging to Yehudi Menuhin and his wife Mary at Olympia, Hammersmith Road, at 2pm on 11th May, with viewing from 6th May onwards. The collection reflects their musical interests, and comprises professional items, including conductors' batons, a grand piano, a violin case, and various period music stands, notably a 19th century one made of ivory and sandalwood; personal gifts such as books, a broach in the shape of a violin and other jewellery, Victorian walking sticks, and costume designs by Alexander Benois and others; and furniture, china, sculpture and paintings, including busts of Menuhin, and a portrait of Paganini. Further information can be found on the Sotheby's web site via the link from the Emporium section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Josie Lawrence and Yolande Vasquez will lead the all female cast of Much Ado About Nothing, Tom Burke and Kananu Kirimi will play Romeo And Juliet, and Mark Rylance, Sophie Thompson and Liam Brennan will star in Measure For Measure in this year's Shakespeare's Globe season, opening on 7th May; Kerry Fox and Joe Dixon feature in Martin Crimp's Cruel And Tender, opening on 13th May at the Young Vic, and 4th August at Chichester Festival Theatre; and former Spice Girl Melanie Brown is currently making her Broadway debut as Mimi in Rent at the Nederlander Theatre.

A veritable who's who in Broadway lighting design, led by doyenne Jules Fisher, makes up the faculty of the annual Broadway Lighting Master Classes, which will be held in New York from 16th to 18th June. The accompanying Broadway Sound Master Classes, running from 18th to 20th June, will be led by Abe Jacob, the godfather of contemporary theatre sound design. In addition to the keynote speakers, both programmes include a visit to a new Broadway musical, complete with a backstage tour, a discussion with the design team, and in depth analysis of the production, plus a manufacturers showcase. Full details can be found on the Entertainment Design web site via the link from The Emporium section of TheatreNet.

Helikon Opera, the Moscow based company that provides a radical alternative to traditional opera, will present its contemporary productions of Bizet's Carmen, Tchaikovsky's The Queen Of Spades and Leveridge's Pyramus And Thisbe, directed by Dmitry Bertman, at the Peacock Theatre from 11th to 15th May. The Shaolin Monks will return to the Peacock with Wheel Of Life from 7th September to 2nd October.

Walk The Plank, the company that brings its theatre with it, performing on a converted Norwegian cargo and passenger ferry, is about to launch this year's tour. Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, adapted by Peter Grimes, and directed by Lee Beagley, opens at Salford Quay on 21st April, and visits harbours around the UK until 30th August. The performance begins on the quayside, and continues both outside and the inside the vessel, across the decks, and through hatches and watertight doors, using lighting, video projection, and shadow imagery to conjure up the underwater world of Captain Nemo and the Nautilus. Further information can be found on the WTP web site via link from the Theatre Companies section of TheatreNet.

The musical version of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, created and directed by Mike Ockrent, which played ten Christmas seasons at Madison Square Garden, is to be filmed for television. It will star Kelsey Grammer as Scrooge, with Jason Alexander as Jacob Marley, and Jane Krakowski and Jesse L Martin as the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present. The show has music by Alan Menken and lyrics Lynn Ahrens (who also co-wrote the book), and was choreographed by Susan Stroman.

The 12th Hampton Court Palace Festival runs from 8th to 19th June, with a series of prestige events in the specially designed theatre, built in the Base Court of the Palace. Artists taking part include Nigel Kennedy, Van Morrison, Jools Holland, Bryan Ferry, Joaquin Cortes, and Denise Van Outen, plus Fanfare And Fireworks with the English Chamber Orchestra, Opera Gala with Bryn Terfel and Joseph Calleja, and Festival Finale with Hayley Westenra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Choral Society. Glyndebourne style, audiences are invited to explore the Palace and picnic in the grounds either before the events or during extended supper intervals. Further information can be found on the HCPF web site via link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.