Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
English National Opera has announced a new season starting on 7th February. It marks the completion of the £41m refurbishment of the Coliseum, creating 40% extra public space (including a rooftop conservatory), and celebrates both the theatre's centenary and the 30th anniversary of ENO. Highlights include: the first full staging of Wagner's Ring Cycle in English for 30 years, in a new translation by Jeremy Sams, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, with The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie and Siegfried (The Twilight Of The Gods follows in 2005); the complete staging of Berlioz's The Trojans, directed by Richard Jones; and Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, directed by Elijah Moshinsky; plus revivals of Nixon In China, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Semele, Don Giovanni, Falstaff, Tosca, Carmen, Ernani, The Magic Flute and The Mikado.
The National Theatre production of Moira Buffini's Dinner, directed by her sister Fiona Buffini, first seen last November, will open at the Wyndham's Theatre on 9th December. Harriet Walter stars as the hostess of a party celebrating the publication of her husband's book, which turns into a dinner from hell with the arrival of an unexpected guest. The cast will also include Penny Downie from the original production.
The Theatre Investment Fund, by arrangement with The Society Of London Theatre, is holding another Workshop For New Producers from 4th to 6th December. This is an intensive course for anyone interested in producing or co-producing in the commercial West End theatre. It provides detailed information on how to set up, produce and promote commercial productions, and is designed for those who have limited knowledge of production, or have not previously been involved. The course is led by Andrew Tregus, with particpation by prominent theatre practitioners. The inclusive cost is £395. For an application form send a stamped addressed envelope to Workshop For New Producers, The Theatre Investment Fund, 32 Rose Street, London WC2 9ET. Closing date for applications is 30th October.
Penelope Keith stars in JB Priestley's Time And The Conways, which opens a regional tour at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry on 11th November. One of Priestley's 'Time' plays, it is the story of a family that starts with hopes of new beginnings the end of the First World War, flashes forward to reveal how these have been dashed twenty years later at the approach of the Second World War, and then returns to the original scene, pointing up the irony its optimism. The production is presented by Theatre Royal Bath Productions and Adam Kenwright.
The enterprising Roundabout Theatre in New York, once one of the premiere Off Broadway companies, but now housed in the refurbished Selwyn Theatre on 42nd Street (sadly renamed the American Airlines Theatre) is expanding, by buying the lease of Studio 54. Its revival of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret, a recreation by Sam Mendes of his Donmar Warehouse production, has been playing at the former disco (which was originally a theatre) since 1998. Roundabout specialises in revivals of classic plays and musicals - a combination of the Donmar and the Almeida but with less pretension. The first new show at Studio 54 will be the Broadway debut of the Stephen Sondheim-John Weidman musical Assassins in March. Roundabout's next production on its home turf, opening on 24th October, is Harold Pinter's The Caretaker, staring Patrick Stewart, Kyle MacLachlan and Aidan Gillen, directed by David Jones. Its revival of the Arthur Kopit-Maury Yeston musical Nine, again a recreation by David Levaux of his Donmar Warehouse production, is currently playing at the Eugene O'Neil Theatre. The company will open a new Off Broadway venue, the Laura Pels on 46th Street this winter.
The fourth Soho Writers Festival, aimed at encouraging new writing, runs from 27th October to 15th November. Over fifty events include: four national press critics working with the theatre's literary team to each write a play in a day; talks by Alan Rusbridger, Howard Jacobsen, Jude Kelly, Allison Pearson, Daniel Kitson and Lloyd Newson; workshops and masterclasses held by Frantic Assembly, Theatre and Beyond, Yellow Earth and Amused Moose Comedy; rehearsed readings of new work; panel discussions covering everything from cutting edge theatre drama to television sitcom; and an evening with Ian Hislop and his Private Eye colleagues. Further information can be found on the Soho Theatre web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.
Journalist and author Eric Schlosser's first play, Americans, will have its world premiere at the Arcola Theatre from 28th October to 22nd November, directed by Dominic Dromgoole, and produced by Oxford Stage Company. The play examines the political background of the assassination of United States president William McKinley by an immigrant anarchist in 1901, and its consequences in America's subsequent conduct of its foreign policy.
The Rumour Machine says: that Julia Ormond and Jenny Seagrove will star in David Hare's The Secret Rapture, about a woman who is pressured by the death of her father into giving her alcoholic stepmother a job in her design firm, at the Lyric Theatre in November; that Emilia Fox, Jared Harris and Polly Walker will star in the previously mentioned production of Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses directed by Tim Fywell which will arrive in the West End in December; that a new production of the L Arthur Rose-Douglas Furber-Noel Gay 'Lambeth Walk' musical Me And My Girl, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh and choreographed by Stephen Mears, will open at the New London Theatre in May; and that lyricist Herbert Kretzmer is working with Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus on a musical based on Vilhelm Moberg's novels The Emigrants, about a group of people moving from Sweden to Minnesota in the 1850s to escape poverty and religious oppression. The Rumour Machine grinds on.