News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th January 2003

The National Theatre and the Donmar Warehouse have scooped up most of the nominations for this year's Laurence Olivier Awards. The National's tally of 21 includes Best Actress: Anita Dobson - Frozen and Clare Higgins -Vincent In Brixton, which also received Best Director: Richard Eyre and Best New Play, for which The Coast Of Utopia was also nominated; Outstanding Musical Production: Anything Goes; and Best Revival: A Streetcar Named Desire. Among the Donmar's list of 9 are Best Actress: Gwyneth Paltrow - Proof and Emily Watson - Uncle Vanya, which also received Best Actor: Simon Russell Beale, and Best Director: Sam Mendes (this was coupled with Twelfth Night, both of which were also nominated for Best Revival); and Best New Play: Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train. The winners will be announced at a lunchtime ceremony at the Lyceum Theatre on 14th February. Further information can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite.

The spring season at Soho Theatre includes theimaginarybody theatre company's Edinburgh Fringe hit 100, by Christopher Heimann, Neil Monaghan and Diene Petterle, based on the premise of having to choose one single memory from your life and erasing everything else as the price of passing through to eternity, directed by Heimann, from 3rd to 27th February; Dirty Butterfly by Debbie Tucker Green, about voyeurism, power and guilt, provoked by what two people hear of their neighbour through their adjoining wall, directed by Rufus Norris, from 26th February to 22nd March; and Jonathan Price and Flora Montgomery in A Reckoning by American Wesley Moore, about a father accused of sexual abuse by his daughter, directed by Richard Seyd from 2nd April.

Susannah Harker and Paul McGann star in the British premiere of The Little Black Book, the award winning French play by Jean-Claude Carriere, translated by Solvene Tiffou, at the Riverside Studios from 26th February to 15th March. When a confirmed bachelor leaves his front door ajar a total stranger slips in, and what starts as a comic encounter changes his life forever. Marianne Badrichani directs a co-production by Coup de Teatre and Riverside Studios. This is followed from 3rd March to 12th April by last year's Edinburgh Fringe hit The Complete Lost Works Of Samuel Beckett As Found In An Envelope (Partially Burned) In A Dustbin In Paris Labelled 'Never To Be Performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I'll Sue! I'll Sue From The Grave!!!'. These works include Beckett's first ever dramatic piece: Happy Happy Bunny Visits Sad Sad Owl, written when he was seven, and presented in its original puppet staging, as well as his last effort, Foot Falls Flatly, apparently written posthumously. Teater Oobleck and Neo-Futurists, two experimental theatres in Chicago, have been instrumental in this important discovery, which is presented by Guy Masterson, TTI and Clancy Productions.

Brits On Broadway Jeremy Irons, Juliet Stevenson, Claire Bloom and Kate Burton will star in a revival of New York City Opera's production of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music, adapted from Ingmar Bergman's film Smiles Of A Summer Night, directed by Scott Ellis and choreographed by Susan Stroman, from 7th to 29th March, at the State Theatre at Lincoln Center (well the entrance is virtually on Broadway) . . . Jochum ten Haaf and Clare Higgins will reprise their performances as Vincent van Gogh and his Brixton landlady in the National Theatre production of Nicholas Wright's Vincent In Brixton, directed by Richard Eyre, at the Golden Theatre on 6th March . . . Meanwhile Michael Crawford's return to Broadway in the musical Dance Of The Vampires has proved short lived, as it is closing on 25th January after 61 previews and 56 performances following disastrous notices, with an estimated loss of over $12m - one of the biggest ever.

On The Casting Couch: Patsy Palmer, Jenny Eclair, Carol Decker, Cathy Tyson and co-writer and original Canadian cast member Barbara Pollard will star in Mum's The Word, a comedy about motherhood, which opens at the Albery Theatre on 18th March.

The Battersea Arts Centre is presenting Tickle Your Head, a mini comedy season from 28th January to 15th February, with John Hegley in The Sound Of Paint Drying musing on everything from family to blancmange and crucifixtion - inspired by a visit to France to paint scenes once depicted by his father; Richard Herring with Talking Cock, his Edinburgh Fringe hit answer to The Vagina Monologues; Stewart Lee in Pea Green Boat, which investigates the chain of events leading up to an owl waking up at sea in the company of a pussy cat (and includes Lee playing the cello); and Simon Munnery with Noble Thoughts Of A Noble Mind, a new version of his last Edinburgh Fringe show.

The Rumour Machine says: that Bill Kenwright's touring production of Joseph And the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat starring Stephen Gately will open at the New London Theatre in March; and that Patrick Stewart will return to the London stage in Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder in June.The Rumour Machine grinds on.

And Finally . . . Nicholas Hytner seems to have a remarkably sensible agenda on taking over as artistic director at the National Theatre regarding the pursuit of 'inclusivity' and what constitutes 'serious theatre: "there's evidently a thing called the young audience and everybody accepts that it's a good thing. And there's also a white, middle class, middle-aged audience and it's a very very bad thing indeed . . . We have to call a halt to this. There's nothing inherently good about any particular audience. We mustn't judge the success of an artistic enterprise by its ability to pull in an Officially Approved Crowd . . . like our Elizabethan predecessors on the South Bank, we want, while we hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature, to give as many people as possible a really good time."