News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th February 2006

The National Theatre has announced its next season. In the Olivier: in addition to Peter Shaffer's The Royal Hunt Of The Sun, directed by Trevor Nunn; Bertolt Brecht's The Life of Galileo, in a new version by David Hare, with Simon Russell Beale, directed by Howard Davies; the world premiere of David Eldridge's Market Boy, set in 1985 in Romford Market, where a young boy learns the lessons of contemporary economics, with Jonathan Cullen, John Marquez, Paul Moriarty, Claire Rushbrook and Danny Worters, directed by Rufus Norris; Ben Jonson's Jacobean comedy The Alchemist, with Alex Jennings and Simon Russell Beale, directed by Nicolas Hytner; and the return of Helen Edmundson's adaptation of Jamila Gavin's Coram Boy. In the Cottesloe: the world premiere of American dramatist J T Rogers's The Overwhelming, about a writer who moves his family to Rwanda in the 1990s, directed by Max Stafford-Clark, presented in association with Out of Joint; and The Seafarer, written and directed by Conor McPherson.

In the Lyttelton: Harley Granville Barker's The Voysey Inheritance, about family greed and moral evasions, with Dominic West, Julian Glover, Lucy Briers and Nancy Carrol, directed by Peter Gill; Chekhov's The Seagull in a new version by Martin Crimp, with Juliet Stevenson and Ben Whishaw, directed by Katie Mitchell; the UK premiere of the Broadway musical Caroline, or Change, about Civil Rights in 1960s Louisiana, with book and lyrics by Tony Kushner, and music by Jeanine Tesori, directed by George C Wolfe; and Martin Crimp's Attempts On Her Life, 17 scenes examining different aspects of an unseen woman, directed by Katie Mitchell. Future projects include Nick Stafford's adaptation of Michael Morpugo's book War Horse, which views the First World War through the eyes of a horse, directed by Marianne Elliott; and a musical about multiculturalism set in Ladbroke Grove, with book by Roy Williams, and music and lyrics by Damon Albarn.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is to webcast one of its Public Program events, a masterclass by Barbara Cook, with six students who will perform songs by Irving Berlin, accompanied by Eric Stern, at Lincoln Center on Tuesday, 21st February at 8pm GMT (3pm EST). The webcast can be accessed from the Public Programs section of the NYPLPA web site, which can be found via the link from the Organisations & Information section of New York TheatreNet.

The Tony Award winning Broadway musical Avenue Q will receive its British premiere on 28th June, as the first show in the renamed Noel Coward Theatre - currently the Albery. The show is a kind of adult Sesame Street with a mixture of real and puppet performers, carrying the warning "full puppet nudity, not suitable for children". It has a book by Jeff Whitty, and music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, and is directed by Jason Moore, with choreography by Hen Roberson. The show began its life at the Off Broadway Vineyard Theatre before moving uptown.

Hot on the heels of the stage version of Steptoe And Son, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran have revisited their character of Alan B'Stard, the most selfish politician of all time from the television series New Statesman. Rik Mayall returns as the former arch Tory, who has crossed the floor to become New Labour, and is once again stalking the corridors of power, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake, in a stage comedy The Blair B'Stard Project. A regional tour opens at the Theatre Royal Brighton on 19th April.

At its second attempt, the Broadway musical Footloose will finally reach the West End, at the end of its current regional tour, opening at the Novello Theatre on 12th April. The show is based on the 1984 film, about a big city boy who finds himself relocated to a small Bible belt town, where dancing is banned as the work of the Devil (along with fun in general), so his rock 'n' roll ways are frowned upon. It is a revised version of the 1998 Broadway original, with book by Dean Pitchford and Walter Bobbie, and songs by Dean Pitchford and Tom Snow and others, and is directed and choreographed by Karen Bruce. The tour currently features Derek Hough, Lorna Want, Stephen McGann and Cheryl Baker. The producers are Mark Goucher, Michael Rose, Tristan Baker and Jason Haigh-Ellery.

Hampstead Theatre has announced its spring season, comprising:

Hugh Whitemore's The Best Of Friends, which weaves letters and essays by Laurentia McLachlan, Sydney Cockerell and George Bernard Shaw into an examination of friendship and the love of learning, with Roy Dotrice, Michael Pennington and Patricia Routledge, directed by James Roose-Evans, opening on 9th March; Marie NDiaye's Hilda, translated by Sarah Woods, the story of an upper class French woman and her consuming obsession with her children's nanny, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, opening on 10th April; the world premiere of Clever Dick, a comedy of unlikely events set in America at the dawn of the atomic age, written and directed by Crispin Whittell, opening on 23rd May; and Blonde Bombshells Of 1943, Alan Plater's stage adaptation of his television play with music about a Second World War all girl band, directed by Mark Babych, opening on 13th July, a co-production with the Octagon Theatre Bolton.

The 1994 Edinburgh Festival production of Dan Wasserman's adaptation of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest starring Christian Slater, directed by Terry Johnson, which transferred to at the Gielgud Theatre, is to be remounted at the Garrick Theatre from 22nd March, with Alex Kingston. It tells the story of a gambler who has faked psychosis to avoid jail, but finds that life in a mental hospital is worse than he bargained for. The producers are Nica Burns, Max Weitzenhoffer and Ian Lenagan.

Sophie Tucker's One Night Stand, a musical biography of the American singer, written by Chris Burgess, featuring her most famous songs, recently seen at the New End Theatre, will play at the King's Head Theatre from 22nd March to 30th April, and then Sound Theatre from 23rd May to 8th July. Sue Kelvin stars as Tucker, accompanied by Michael Roulston as her pianist Ted Shapiro, and the director is Susie McKenna.

The Rumour Machine says: that as part of the celebrations for Les Miserables reaching its 21st birthday in the West End on 9th October - when it passes Cats to become the world's longest running musical with 8,372 performances* - Cameron Mackintosh plans to bring the show back to Broadway on 21st October, having closed it in New York three years ago (* this record excludes Off Broadway's The Fantasticks, which opened in 1960 and ran for almost 42 years). The Rumour Machine grinds on.