News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th August 2001

Confirming earlier rumours, the Les Liaisons Dangereuses dream team of Lindsay Duncan, Alan Rickman and director Howard Davies, are to be reunited for Noel Coward's Private Lives, opening at the Albery Theatre on 4th October. The quintessential Coward play contains the most famous balcony scene since Romeo And Juliet's, with the immortal lines "Very flat Norfolk" and "Curious how potent cheap music can be". It tells the story of a divorced couple who, finding themselves honeymooning with new partners in adjoining suites in the south of France, also find that their relationship is actually not over.

Also as previously forecast, the Gate Theatre Dublin production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming will open at the Comedy Theatre on 13th September, following an appearance as part of New York's Pinter Festival. It stars Ian Holm, Lia Williams, Nick Dunning, Ian Hart, John Kavanagh and Jason O'Mara, and is directed by Robin Lefevre. The action takes place at a 'meet the in-laws' occasion with a typically Pinteresque family. Holm was in Peter Hall's original Royal Shakespeare Company production in 1965.

Goodspeed Musicals will present Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn's By Jeeves on Broadway, at the Helen Hayes Theatre, opening on 28th October. Ayckbourn will direct, based on his Pittsburgh Public Theatre production of February this year, which starred Martin Jarvis as Jeeves and John Scherer as Bertie Wooster. This was subsequently videoed, but has yet to be broadcast or released. The original large scale West End production in 1975 was Lloyd Webber's only flop. It resurfaced in a small scale format in 1996, launching the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough and transferring to London. It also received its American premiere at Goodspeed Opera House the same year. Based on the characters of P.G. Wodehouse, the action takes place in a church hall where Bertie Wooster is scheduled to give a banjo recital. Jeeves, being a lover of music, has stolen the banjo, forcing Bertie to improvise a tale of romantic entanglements and mistaken identities involving his friends in true Wodehouse fashion.

The National Theatre production of Michael Frayn's Noises Off, directed by Jeremy Sams, which currently playing at the Piccadilly Theatre, is set to transfer to Broadway, opening at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on 16th October. There are no casting details available as yet.

The Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass season, which stages free events for young people who have an interest in theatre or are keen to pursue a career in the arts, has been facing a cutback due to a shortfall of 20,000 in sponsorship funding. To avoid this, patron Peter Hall will stage a charity gala performance of his production of the theatrical comedy The Royal Family at the Haymarket on 13th October. This show seems to be signing new names by the week, and the tally currently stands at Peter Bowles, Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Julia McKenzie, Toby Stephens, Phillip Voss and Harriet Walter. Gala tickets will cost 100. Further information can be found on the Theatre Royal Haymarket web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Dervla Kirwan, Kate Foster Barnes, Jacqueline Pearce, Rupert Penry-Jones, Steve John Shepherd and Anna Wilson Jones star in a revised version of J B Priestley's 1927 play Dangerous Corner, updated to the present day. Directed by Laurie Sansom, the production opens at the West Yorkshire Playhouse Leeds on 7th September, prior to a West End transfer. It is a co-production with Really Useful Theatres, Max Weitzenhoffer and Lee Dean.

Edinburgh Fringe Report: See How Beautiful I Am, a one person show starring Deborah Weston, about best-selling 1960s novelist Jacqueline Susann, is transferring to the Bush Theatre from 5th September. Susann, whose work epitomised the populist style unpopular with critics, is best known for Valley Of The Dolls, one of the biggest selling novels of all time. The show is written by Paul Minx, and directed by Sarah Esdaile.

Shared Experience opens a regional tour of Bryony Lavery's adaptation of Angela Carter's novel The Magic Toyshop at the Wolsey Theatre Ipswich on 11th September. In a contemporary echo of The Secret Garden, a teenage girl is sent to live with strange relatives in a London house, where she learns the truths behind a Magic Toyshop. It features Hannah Watkins, with Damian O'Hare and Penny Layden, and is directed by Rebecca Gatward.

Battersea Arts Centre is presenting its annual BAC Opera - The Works season, which gives the operatic form a good kicking, from 21st August to 12th September. Among the highlights are Kombat Opera's Jerry Springer - The Opera, Richard Thomas line up of amazing guests supported by the Audience Psycho Choir; The Curate's Egg with Julian Allwood's Charades, where 24 voices surround the audience (in a tent) and lead them on an aural journey; and Cantabile with Passions by Stephen McNeff, which combines Euripides Alcestis with contemporary interviews. All human life and more - with musical accompaniment.

The Play Wot I Wrote, a show written by Sean Foley and Hamish McColl (who trade as The Right Size), will receive its premiere at Liverpool Playhouse on 27th September, directed by Kenneth Branagh. The premise is two comedians who are asked to do a show about Morecambe and Wise (hence the title). The final 20 minutes will be the 'play', which will feature a different guest star each night. So far 28 names have agreed to take part. The show is a co-production with David Pugh, and is looking for a West End transfer in October.

The Watermill Theatre Newbury's winter season includes: Witch, a psychological thriller, written and directed Ade Morris, opening on 18th September; Josephine Baird in Pam Gems musical play Piaf, given the John Doyle actor-musician-ensemble treatment from 10th October; a new version of Cinderella And The Enchanted Slipper, based on the original story, also written and directed by Doyle, with music by Sarah Travis, opening on 30th November; and the premiere of Alan Plater's period comedy Only A Matter Of Time, about an English official visiting Wales to prepare the locals for the arrival of the railway, again directed by Doyle on 13th February.

The Rumour Machine says: that Michael Crawford is negotiating a 3 year 20m 'retirement package' to star in a stage musical adaptation of Roman Polanski's 1967 film Dance Of The Vampires on Broadway in January, and subsequently in Los Angeles and the West End. The show is written by Jim Steinman, and the director will be John Caird. The Rumour Machine grinds on.