News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th July 2004

The Royal Shakespeare Company has finally confirmed that is to return London with a six month season at the Albery Theatre, opening on 18th November. This will comprise the current Stratford repertoire, Hamlet, Romeo And Juliet, King Lear and Macbeth, each playing a straight four week run, followed by Vanessa Redgrave in Euripides's Hecuba. The RSC has also announced a scheme that will offer 50 best seats at each performance to 16 to 25 year olds for just 5. In addition, a number of tickets will be available for key public sector workers, for matinee and Monday evening performances for 15. In March, productions from the RSC's first New Work Festival will transfer to the Soho Theatre. The RSC has also confirmed that plans to demolish the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford have been abandoned, and instead, the 1932 building designed by Elisabeth Scott (the first significant public structure by a female architect) will be refurbished.

David Suchet is to star in a national tour of Terence Rattigan's Man And Boy, with David Yelland, Ben Silverstone, Colin Stinton, Fritha Goodey, Will Higgins and Jennifer Jellicorse, directed by Maria Aitken, opening at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre on 20th September. The play, set in New York in the 1930's, is about a confrontation between a father and his estranged son, against a backdrop of love, betrayal and high finance. The producer is Michael Whitehall.

Dodger Stages has confirmed that its new $20m Off Broadway theatre complex at World Plaza on West 50th Street in New York will open on 16th September with Basil Twist's Symphonie Fantastique. It is an underwater puppet spectacle that "combines the magic of puppetry with the powerful suggestions of dance, film and art, set to the five movements of Hector Berlioz's hour long composition" which is performed in a 1,000 gallon water tank. Created from a relatively new underground film multiplex, Dodger Stages contains five performance spaces, ranging in size from 199 to 499 seats. Broadway theatre producer and operator Dodger Stage Holding funded the venture as a well resourced and comfortable centre within the theatre district where new works in all the performing arts can be launched.

Playboy Of The West Indies, Mustapha Matura's Caribbean conversion of John Synge's turn of the 20th century classic, directed by Nicholas Kent, will play at the Tricycle from 2nd December to 22nd January. The story of the arrival of a stranger in a rural community is transposed from Ireland to Trinidad, with a suitable accommodation in the dialogue. It is a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse, where it transfers from 28th January to 12th February.

Cole Porter is back with a musical double whammy. First, Michael Blakemore's recent Tony award winning Broadway and West End production of Kiss Me Kate, featuring Craig Urbani, Julie-Alanah Brighten, David Sellings and Michelle Francis, opens a national tour on 23rd August at the New Wimbledon Theatre. It is set around an American touring company performing The Taming Of The Shrew, where the backstage relationship of its stars mirrors the onstage friction of the characters they play. Second, last year's Open Air Theatre production of High Society, starring Susie Blake, directed by Ian Talbot, opens a national tour on 9th September at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley. Adapted from The Philadelphia Story, it takes place at a New England wedding of the year, where the bride has last minute second thoughts as to who should be the groom.

John Doyle has created another of his musical transformations, turning Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore into Pinafore Swing, relocating the action to the 1940s, with the tale of secret trysts, mistaken identity, and the triumph of true love, performed by a group of actor-musicians, led by Gemma Page, Ben Tolley and Kieran Buckeridge. The show premieres at the Watermill Theatre Newbury from 21st July to 11th September, prior to a regional tour.

Remote Dancing is an interactive video installation by Rosemary Lee and Nic Sandiland, where the viewer and the on screen dancer become a pas de deux. The installation consists of a number of enclosed corridors with a rear projection screen at one end and a sensor at the other end. On entering, participants find a virtual dancing partner waiting in anticipation at the far end, and as they move, they effectively 'scratch' the dance video back and forth, and so a duet unfolds. The installation runs daily from 10am in the Ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall, from 31st July to 26th August. It will be followed on 30th August by the return of Peggy Spencer's Ballroom Blitz, 10 hours of dancing, workshops and cabaret, hosted by the doyenne of the dance floor and DJ Nicky Miles. Both events are free. Further information can be found on the RFH web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Private Fears In Public Places, the latest play written and directed by Alan Aycbourn, opens at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough on 18th August. It is a tale of the misheard, the unspoken and the sadly misunderstood, as six people, leading six separate lives, are strangely linked by circumstance.

The Lyric Theatre Hammersmith's autumn season will include the Shared Experience production E M Forster's A Passage To India, set at the height of the British Raj about the tensions that exist when two cultures collide, adapted by Martin Sherman, and directed by Nancy Meckler, running from 14th to 25th September; and Told By An Idiot's adaptation of Philip Pullman's The Firework-Maker's Daughter, an oriental tale of a young girl who undertakes a journey of discovery to learn the true secret of becoming a firework maker, playing from 26th November to 22nd January.

The fourth Stella Artois Screen Tour, which is running between 23rd July and 18th November, is again presenting classic films in unusual places, inspired by the original event in 2000, when The Blair Witch Project was shown to 100 people in the middle of the night in the middle of Queens Wood in Highgate. This year's programme includes: Saving Private Ryan at the Imperial War Museum in Manchester, Quadrophenia on Brighton Beach, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, and To Kill A Mockingbird at The Galleries of Justice in Nottingham. Outdoor events are free. Further information can be found on the SAST web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The autumn season at the Peacock Theatre includes a return visit by Shaloin Monks - Wheel Of Life, the martial arts display, from 7th September to 2nd October; Nuevo Ballet Espanol with Flamenco Directo, a contemporary interpretation of flamenco, from 11th to 30th October; and Flames Of Passion, a Turkish dance spectacular, from 9th to 21st November.

The Rumour Machine says: that Aaron Sorkin's courtroom drama A Few Good Men will receive its West End premiere later this year; that the Theatre Royal Haymarket will fill its dark weeks in September and October with cabaret by American performers; and that Bob Carlton's idiosyncratic production of John Buchan's The Thirty Nine Steps, which has toured twice but failed to find a home, will finally make it to the West End in the autumn. The Rumour Machine grinds on.