News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 16th July 1999

A sell out hit at the King's Head Theatre in April, the musical A Saint She Ain't will move to the West End on 22nd September. It's based on Moliere's Le Cocu Imaginaire, relocated to 1940's Hollywood, with each character played by a star of the time, including Mae West, Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth and Abbott and Costello. The book and lyrics are by Dick Vosburgh, and music by Denis King. Most of the previous cast, led by Barry Cryer as W C Fields, will remain. Ned Sherrin directs and the producers are Patricia Macnaughton, Cole Kitchenn and the King's Head.

Cliff Richard fans can look forward to a double whammy of Cliff inspired theatre offerings. First there's Harry's Web by Tim Whitnal, using seventy of Cliff's hit songs woven into a "Forbidden Planet" style futuristic fantasy show, centred on the last surviving humans' struggle against evil forces from another world. Danny White stars in the world premiere at Theatre Royal Windsor from 4th to 21st August. Then next year, comes Cliff: The Musical, being created by the man himself, which will be an autobiographical compilation show, designed for large scale concert venues. It will feature Cliff as his recent self, but with a younger model for the early years.

SFX Entertainment Corporation, the world's largest promoter, producer and venue operator has received approval for its $116m bid for the assets of the Livent Theatrical Organisation. These include theatres in New York, Toronto and Chicago, the current Broadway productions of Ragtime and Fosse, and a number of projects in development. The Canadian/American company Livent rose quickly to become a major force in theatre production, building and operation, but ran into financial trouble last summer, resulting in charges of financial impropriety against its former executives. It filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

Booking opens this week for the launch season at Keswick's new Theatre By The Lake, from 19th August to 6th November. The programme is Brandon Thomas' Charley's Aunt and The Lakers by James Plumptre in the main house, and Jim Cartwright's Two By Two in the studio, with A Christmas Carol adapted by David Holman for the festive season.

The musical comedy Of Thee I Sing will receive its London premiere at the Bridewell Theatre from 4th August to 4th September. Book is by George S Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Centred on an American Presidential campaign in the Depression, it is a satiric swipe at the showbiz hokum of American politics, and was the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize. The cast of 23 includes Fiona Benjamin, Ian Burford, Don Fellows, Gavin Lee and Sarah Redmond, and the director is Jonathan Best. The producers are Sally Vaughan & Richard Jordan and Jonathan Best.

Real Life: The audience cheered when Al Pacino grabbed a mobile phone which rang during a performance of the play Hughie in LA, and shouted This is Al Pacino and I'm trying to do a show here! Call back later!

Sadler's Wells autumn/winter season at the Peacock Theatre starts on 28th August. It consists of British Youth Opera in Verdi's Falstaff and Rossini's The Barber Of Seville; Le Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in two programmes which include a world premiere; musician and comedian Hans Liberg; City Ballet Of London in a new triple bill; the return of The Snowman at Christmas; and Tango por Dos with a new show Una Noche De Tango

Ruthie Henshall, currently in Chicago on Broadway is to join the Stephen Sondheim compilation show Putting It Together, which finally makes the Great White Way at the Barrymore Theatre on 21st November. The show, which contains 35 numbers, has had more rewrites and tryouts (in both the UK and the US) than a proper musical. It is produced by Cameron Mackintosh, and if they have finally got it right, will presumably find its way to London. The other cast members are Carol Burnett, George Hearn, John Barrowman and Bronson Pinchot, and the director is Eric D Schaffer with musical staging by Bob Avian.

On The Casting Couch: comedian Frank Skinner makes his West End acting debut on 27th July, with Nicholas Woodeson and Art Malik in Art; and fellow comedian Eddie Izzard will be joined by Elizabeth Berkley, Sandra Caron, David Ryall, Matt Deveraux and James Hayes in Lenny at the Queens from 9th August.

The new "on stage, on time and on budget" regime at Covent Garden has announced next summer's season. The Kirov Opera will visit with Verdi's La Forza del Destino and Prokofiev's War And Peace; with the Ballet in Giselle and The Sleeping Beauty; and Birmingham Royal Ballet in a programme which will include David Bintley's new work Arthur Part I.

The Rumour Machine says: that Harvey Goldsmith will present an Irish dance show at Drury Lane from October until the new year; that despite a possible Monopoly Commission referral, Stoll Moss Theatres may bid for rival Associated Capital Theatres; and that Calista Flockhart may come to London during next year's Ally McBeal hiatus in the current controversial Off Broadway hit Bash - a trilogy of plays by Neil LaBute about "beautiful people doing awful things". The Rumour Machine grinds on.