News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th September 2004

The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced next year's Stratford season, running from March to October. In the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, comedies performed in repertoire by a 44 strong ensemble: A Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Gregory Doran, Twelfth Night directed by Michael Boyd, The Comedy Of Errors directed by Nancy Meckler and As You Like It directed by Dominic Cooke. In the Swan, political dramas performed by a separate 28 strong ensemble: Thomas More partly written by Shakespeare, with Munday and Chettle, A New Way To Please You by Middleton, Rowley and Massinger, Believe What You Will by Massinger, Sejanus - His Fall by Jonson, and the world premiere of Speaking Like Magpies by Frank McGuinness. In The Other Place: Zinnie Harris's Solstice, and David Greig's The American Pilot, both contemporary parables that examine the forces shaping our world, plus a New Work Festival, which will include Fraser Grace's Breakfast With Mugabe, and Brett Neveu's Eric La Rue. The company is planning a Complete Works of Shakespeare Festival that will run in Stratford from April 2006 to April 2007, in which professional and amateur companies from around the world will be invited to take part, which will see the entire Shakespeare canon performed, including sonnets and poetry.

Those who prefer their performers to have four legs will be pleased to hear that Apassionata, which modestly bills itself as 'the greatest horse spectacular in the world' will open a three month UK tour at Wembley Arena on 2nd January. The show will feature thirty three stallions and one mare, from all five of the royal baroque horse breeds - Andalusian, Arabian, Friesian, Lipizzaner and Lusitano - demonstrating all kinds of horsemanship. These will include stunt riding, classical dressage, pas de deux and quadrilles, from Arabian Desert scenes to simulated Iberian bullfights, and from the court of imperial Vienna to Spanish cowboys performing elegant dances with their 'garrocha' poles. Further information can be found on the show's web site via the link from the Shows section of TheatreNet.

The autumn season at the Bridewell Theatre includes Cosi, by Louis Nowra, a comedy about a naive student who finds himself attempting to lead a group of mental patients through rehearsals of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte without the music, directed by Andrew Miller, from 5th to 30th October; and We Could Be Heroes, written and performed by Richard Lumsden, as a struggling songwriter who finally gets to perform at a pop festival, but finds that things go awry, directed by Graham Gill, from 4th to 20th November.

Alan Bennett's The Lady In The Van receives its regional premiere on 2nd November, opening national tour at the Theatre Royal in Bath, starring Susan Hampshire, directed by Christopher Luscombe. Bennett appears as a character in the autobiographical story of an eccentric woman who lived in a caravan in his drive for fifteen years. It is a Theatre Royal Bath Production.

TheatreRadio, an internet radio station entirely devoted to musical theatre, featuring songs from shows both classic and contemporary, is now on air. It also includes information on musicals playing in the West End and on tour across the UK, and hopes to add live shows to include interviews. You can find TheatreRadio via the link form the Webcasts section of TheatreNet.

Following the recent twenty fifth anniversary of London's NewsRevue, at the Canal Cafe Theatre in Little Venice, New York is launching its own constantly updated topical show. Created by composer and lyricist Rick Crom, Newsical - All The News That's Fit To Spoof will open Upstairs at Studio 54 on 7th October, featuring Kim Cea, Jeff Skowron, Stephanie Kurtzuba and Todd Alan Johnson, directed and choreographed by Donna Drake.

The Dominion Theatre is marking its 75th anniversary by launching a permanent exhibition charting its history. Pictures and information will be presented chronologically, from the opening on 3rd October 1929 to the present day, across the walls of its main bar. In addition, another bar will be renamed the Royal Variety Bar, and will feature pictures of cast members of shows that have played there.

The Word Festival, a series of conversations with writers and thinkers, takes place at the Criterion Theatre every Tuesday at 6.00pm until 8th December. All events are sixty minute conversations, with audience Q&A, followed by book signings. Those taking part are: VS Naipaul, Graydon Carter, Tony Wilson, John Pilger, Roddy Doyle, Alan Rusbridger, Greg Dyke, Mark Haddon, Maurice Saatchi, Clive James, David Mitchell, David Baddiel, Jon Snow, Rory Bremner Terry Pratchett. Further information can be found on The Word web site, via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Musical theatre lost one of its greatest practitioners this week with the death of lyricist Fred Ebb. His long collaboration with composer John Kander, from Flora, The Red Menace, which launched the career of Liza Minnelli in 1965, to the recent premiere of The Visit, included Zorba, 70 Girls 70, The Act, Woman Of The Year, The Rink, Kiss Of The Spiderwoman, Steel Pier, and their most successful shows Cabaret and Chicago, whose recent revivals outran the original productions. Works in progress were Over And Over, an adaptation of Thornton Wilder's The Skin Of Our Teeth, and Curtains, a murder mystery. Ebb also wrote lyrics for stand alone songs, most famously New York, New York. His work covers a wide range of subject matter and styles, but all his lyrics shared a jauntiness, optimism and sense of showbiz, combined with inventive - and sometime outrageous - rhymes. Ebb was in his seventies, although he was renowned as being 'sweetly vague' where his age was concerned.

The Rumour Machine says: that Mike Leigh will develop a new play at the National Theatre next year in an unheard of 18 week rehearsal period, which Nicholas Hytner will not be allowed to see until the dress rehearsal; that the 2001 film Legally Blonde, about a Californian sorority queen who follows her ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School in an attempt to win him back, is being adapted as a Broadway musical, with book by Heather Hach and songs by Nell Benjamin and Laurence O'Keefe, to be directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell; that Jude Law may play Hamlet, directed by David Lan, as the reopening production at the Young Vic after its rebuild; and that the Theatre Royal Stratford East production of The Big Life, a ska musical that relocates the story of Love's Labour's Lost to 1950s London among a group of Caribbean immigrants, will get a West End showing early next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.