News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th October 1997

Michael White is transferring The King's Head production of The Boys In The Band to the Aldwych Theatre on 29th October for a short season. Matt Crowley's 1968 play is about a group of gay New York friends unexpectedly confronting a homophobic ex-college chum. Trailblazing in its time, it might have seemed old hat nowadays, but it has done well at the King's Head, and there has been a successful revival in America recently. It is directed by Kenneth Elliott.

Also heading back to the (Off) West End is the tour of Fame. It will be taking up residence at the Victoria Palace for ten weeks from 11th November. Based on the Alan Parker film of 1980, which spawned the TV series, it presents the "next generation" of students at the New York High School of Performing Arts, featuring new songs and characters. The show played at the Cambridge Theatre for fifteen months in 1995/96. Paul Elliott and Adam Spiegel are the producers.

Mark Ravenhill's Shopping And Fucking, currently touring, returns for its third London run at the Queens Theatre for eight weeks from 21st January. The Out Of Joint production is directed by Max Stafford Clark. On the evidence of these three shows, are we moving to a Broadway situation of short sharp guerrilla raids rather than extended runs?

The arena of the Albert Hall is to be flooded for the first time to form a Japanese water garden, as the setting for a new production of Madam Butterfly, when Raymond Gubbay presents his fourth megamusical style opera staging next February. Previous productions, particularly this year's Carmen, have been critically savaged though commercially successful. There has also been criticism of seat prices, which despite being promoted as "people's opera" have averaged higher than the Royal Opera House and Coliseum. Singaporean Nancy Yuen and Chinese Liping Zhang will share the title role, singing a new English translation by Amanda Holden. The director will be Opera Factory's David Freeman and the designer David Roger. There will also be an arena style production of Aida at Earls Court in April.

The latest in the long line of development plans for the Roundhouse at Chalk Farm was revealed this week. Local philanthropist Torquil Norman has offered 6m from his charity The Norman Trust to launch the scheme. A feasibility study is currently under way regarding development of the site for large scale performances in the main space, with a smaller venue, design studios and recording facilities beneath and in adjoining buildings. Norman already owns the site, and part of the 6m will be for its purchase, and the setting up of an endowment fund. The overall cost is estimated to be around 18m and would require Lottery funding. It is hoped that the building will reopen in late 2000 or 2001.

The Rumour Machine says: that the stage show based on Wallace And Gromit, from Nick Park's Oscar winning films, which has been touring for some while is looking for a West End home for the Christmas season; and that the curse of Hello! magazine - where the loving couple "seen relaxing in their lovely home" on the front page, seem to head straight for the divorce court a month later - appears to have struck The Stage - it currently features the critically savaged HRH following hot on the heels of Maddie. The Rumour Machine grinds on.