Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
The Theatre Royal Bath production of Joe Orton's Entertaining Mr Sloane, which has been touring, will open at the Arts Theatre on 15th January. It stars Alison Steadman, Clive Francis and Bryan Pringle and is directed by Terry Johnson. The play was Orton's his first produced work in 1964 - also at the Arts which was then a club. The tale of attempted blackmail that backfires crystallised Orton's distinctive and subversive style and outraged the establishment of the time. Another Country, which is currently at the Arts, is likely to transfer.
The Theatre Museum is repeating its Pantomime Workshops daily at 12.30pm and 3.00pm from 5th December to 11th February. They offer children the chance to learn about different styles of pantomime through the ages, and find out what it is like to play a principal boy or pantomime dame, using traditional 19th century Victorian costumes from the Players Theatre. There is a discount package combining a Workshop with a visit to the Players pantomime King Charming Or The Blue Bird Of Paradise. There are also Make Up Demonstrations before and after the Costume Workshops. Workshops are suitable for ages five and over and booking is essential. Further information from the Theatre Museum web site via the link from the Information section of TheatreNet.
Last year's Chichester Festival Theatre production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance Of Being Earnest is to return to the West End, opening at the Savoy Theatre on 17th January. The show played at the Theatre Royal Haymarket last autumn and has since toured in Australia and New Zealand. It features Patricia Routledge as Lady Bracknell with an antipodean supporting cast, directed by Christopher Morahan and is presented by Truimph Theatre Productions.
The current Wildemania continues at the National Theatre with Oscar Wilde Week from 27th November. The programme of events comprises readings (including the four act version of The Importance Of Being Earnest), a discussion on his continuing influence, a lecture by Simon Callow, an outdoor visual art presentation on the flytower, screenings of an early silent film of Salome, and a late night candlelit memorial celebration. Full details can be found on the National web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.
Meanwhile the National has announced its new year schedule. In the Lyttleton: Martine McCutcheon, Jonathan Pryce, Nicholas Le Provost and Mark Umbers are confirmed in Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady (with Denis Waterman still negotiating about playing Dolittle) directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Matthew Bourne, opening on 15th March; and Theatre de Complicite's Mnemonic, conceived by Simon McBurney plays from 2nd to 10th February. In the Cottesloe: J M Synge's The Playboy Of The Western World (still directed by Conall Morrison at the moment) now opens on 20th February; Colin Teevan's The Walls opens on 14th March as part of the Springboards new writing programme; and Anthony Page directs an Edward Albee double bill The Marriage Play with Sheila Gish and Bill Paterson as a couple who have both strayed during their 30 year marriage, and Finding The Sun also with Sheila Gish about sham marriages in May. Two sell-out productions are transferring from the Cottesloe to the Olivier: Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard with Vanessa and Corin Redgrave, Roger Allam, Michael Bryant and Suzanne Bertish directed Trevor Nunn from 3rd February; and Di Trevis and Harold Pinter's adaptation of Proust's Rememberance Of Things Past directed by Trevis (which hasn't even opened yet) from 23rd February.
A collection of costume and set designs for ballet, opera and film, built up over 40 years by Leslie Easterman are to be auctioned by Phillips on 21st November. Stage designers represented include Leon Bakst with costumes for the Ballets Russe in the 1920's, Alexander Benois for London Festival Ballet in the 1950's and Erte for the Follies Bergeres in the 1920's. Film designers include Cecil Beaton for My Fair Lady, Jean Louis for A Star Is Born and Adele Balkan for There's No Business Like Show Business.
David de Keyser, Lynn Farleigh and Zena Walker star in the European premiere production of a new version of The Diary Of Anne Frank which is currently touring. Wendy Kesselman has adapted Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett's play, incorporating the recently released material. It tells the story of the years which the Frank family and friends spent hiding in the attic of their house in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. Jonathan Church directs a Touring Consortium production.
Mel Brooks has adapted his classic film The Producers to become the ultimate backstage musical show, and it will arrive on Broadway at the St James Theatre on 21st March. It tells the story of two Broadway producers who stage the worst idea for a show they can find, planning to keep the investors' money when it flops. Despite (or because of) its title number Springtime For Hitler, the show is an unexpected hit and they are faced with paying off countless angels. Brooks has written the songs and collaborated with Tom Meehan on the book. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick star, with Susan Stroman directing and choreographing.
Snake In Fridge, a new play by Brad Fraser which bills itself as "a gothic horror story for the 21st century", is playing at the Royal Exchange Manchester until 9th December. Six twentysomethings, all making a living on the fringes of the sex industry, rent a creaking Victorian house in downtown Toronto. When a live boa constrictor is accepted in lieu of a drug debt things really slide out of control. Braham Murray is the horror master. Further interactive information from the Royal Exchange web site via the link from the UK Regional Theatres section of TheatreNet.
Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap will celebrate its 20,000 performance on 7th December. Original cast members form the 1952 production, Richard Attenborough, Sheila Sim and Jessica Spencer will be guests of honour at a special performance of the murder mystery which refuses to die, along with members of the Christie family and Culture secretary Chris Smith.
The Rumour Machine 2001 says: that Fiona Shaw will play Medea directed by Deborah Warner at the Queens Theatre early in the new year; that the producers of the American stage musical version of The Full Monty (with the action relocated in Buffalo) are looking for a West End theatre for next summer; and that the Hollywood to Shaftesbury Avenue stampede will continue with Brendan Fraser and Francis O'Connor in Tennessee Williams Cat On A Hot Tin Roof directed by Anthony Page next September. The Rumour Machine grinds on.