News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th September 1999

Terence McNally 's Chorpus Christi has found a London home at the Pleasance from 26th October to 20th November. The play aroused controversy both with the original New York production, and at the Edinburgh Fringe, by postulating a gay relationship between Jesus and Judus. Nevertheless, Stephen Henry's Theatre 28 staging, which stars former Coronation Street heartthrob-baddie Stephen Billington as Judas, received the blessing of the wacky Bishop of Edinburgh.

It is now confirmed that Adventures in Motion Pictures Swan Lake will return to the West End between the UK and European legs of its world tour. It makes a final London appearance at the Dominion Theatre from 7th February to 11th March. Since the show was last in town in 1996, Matthew Bourne's radical reinterpretation has won various awards, including Tony's for Best Choreography and Best Direction. AMP is currently planning a new ballet based on the story of Carmen to be launched in London next autumn.

The London premiere of Anna Weiss by Mike Cullen, will be at the Whitehall Theatre on 22nd November. First seen at the Traverse Edinburgh, the play examines the issue of recovered memory, as a psychiatrist works with a patient to recall her abuse as a child. It features Catherine McCormack and Shirley Henderson and is directed by James Kerr. The producers are Sally Vaughan and Richard Jordan.

There are concerns that the takeover of the British ticketing company Dataculture, by the American Ticket.com, will lead to a near monopoly situation in UK ticketing software. Ticket.com already owns seven ticketing systems including PASS, while Dataculture's Databox is the largest of the six major British players, installed at over 250 sites. Ticket.com operates with substantial booking fees, and industry insiders are speculating that if its position is further strengthened, these may rise, to the detriment of both venues and audiences.

Ken Russell is to direct the premiere of Weill And Lenya, a two hander about the relationship between composer Kurt Weill and actress/singer Lotte Lenya. Written by and starring Judith Paris, it will play at the New End Theatre from 21st December to 5th February, and marks the centenary of Weill's birth.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced details of its winter season at the Barbican, running from October to May. It opens with two new productions, the previously mentioned King Lear with Nigel Hawthorne, and Monica Dolan and Stuart McQueen in The Taming Of The Shrew directed by Lindsay Posner, which then move to Stratford. The remainder of the season is made up of transfers from Stratford: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Antony And Cleopatra, Othello, Ben Johnson's Volpone, T S Elliott's The Family Reunion and Aphra Benn's Oroonoko.

The first compilation biomusical off the production line next year will be Dusty - The Musical, which will open at the Churchill Bromley on 23rd February. The book is by Paul Prescott, Bob Tomson directs it, and the producer is Paul Farrah. Oh and the Dusty concerned is Springfield, not Bin.

Five major drama schools are to share a grant of 200,000 from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts next year, to help make up the shortfall in government student fee funding. FSA trustee Lord "Dickie Luvvie" Attenborough has pushed this through as a one year holding measure, while both the organisation and the government review student funding provision. RADA, LAMDA, ALRA Webber Douglas and Oxford School of Drama are the beneficiaries.

Topless, a new comedy by Miles Tredinnick, is a one woman show about a tour guide on a sightseeing bus. Featuring Rachael Carter, and directed by Martin Bailey, it is actually being staged on a Big Bus Company open top sightseeing bus. Departing every evening at 7.30pm from beside the Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly, passengers are welcomed aboard by tour guide Sandie, and the play begins. As driver Sid negotiates the streets of London, Sandie entertains with her life story, whilst pointing out all the major sights. Two for the price of one indeed. It runs nightly (except Sundays) until 2nd October, and if wet there is a convertible roof. The silly season clearly does not end with August Bank Holiday.

Dance Umbrella, London's annual festival of contemporary dance, runs from 29th September to 14th November. Companies taking part include the Mark Morris Dance Group and Siobhan Davies Dance Company at Sadler's Wells, and Doug Varone & Dancers, from New York, and Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu, from Paris, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Other events include De Rotterdamse Dansgroep performing Javier de Frutos' The Fortune Biscuit, a new cabaret show from The Cholmondeleys and The Featherstonehaughs, and Lea Anderson's site specific piece for Crystal Palace Sports Centre Sportorama. Full details are on the Dance Umbrella web site via the link from TheatreNet's Festivals section.

The Rumour Machine says: that there may be a 60m management buyout bid for Stoll Moss Theatres, with some of the backing coming from Peter Holmes a Court, son of chairman Janet, who owns one sixth of the company, and is believed to be opposed to the sale. Meanwhile another theatre is technically on the market, as Sogo - the head leaseholder of the southern block of Piccadilly Circus which includes the Criterion - has put the site up for sale. The Rumour Machine grinds on.