News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 17th December 2004

Subsidised theatres were the big winners in this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards. The National Theatre's The History Boys took Best Actor: Richard Griffiths as well as Best Play, Scenes From The Big Picture gained Most Promising Playwright: Owen McCafferty, and the company won a Lifetime Achievement award. The Almeida Theatre's Festen took Best Director: Rufus Norris and Best Design: Ian MacNeil, Jean Kalman and Paul Arditti, and The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? won Outstanding Newcomer: Eddie Redmayne. The Producers was of course Best Musical. The full list of winners can be found on the This Is London web site via the link from the Guides section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, The Royal Shakespeare Company will bring its Spanish Golden Age Season to the Playhouse Theatre from 21st January, playing in weekly repertoire until 26th March. It comprises The Dog In The Manger, by Lope de Vegas, about a countess who compromises her honour manipulating her way into a socially acceptable marriage, directed by Laurence Boswell; The House Of Desires, by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, in which a brother and sister are entangled in a web of love with four others all under one roof, directed by Nancy Meckler; and Pedro The Great Pretender, by Cervantes, about a trickster who aims to be helpful in order to be liked, directed by Mike Alfreds. The RSC will also bring two plays from its New Work Festival to the Soho Theatre. Midwinter by Zinnie Harris, about identity and love in a world of conflict, will open on 9th March; and Poor Beck by Joanna Laurens, a re-working of the story of Myrrah from Ovid's Metamorphosis, will open on 14th March. The season will be completed by Nowhere To Belong: Tales Of An Extravagant Stranger, written and performed by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

The RSC is to build a 1,000 seater temporary theatre in which it will perform during the 100m refurbishment of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford upon Avon. It will be constructed in the car park of the RSC's studio space The Other Place, whose auditorium will house foyer and other audience facilities. The building should be completed in time for use during the year long Complete Works of Shakespeare Festival in 2006, and will form the main performance venue during the 2007 and 2008 seasons. The thrust stage design will be similar to the new auditorium to be built in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which is scheduled to reopen in 2009.

Jeremy Child, James Clyde, Christian Patterson and Peter Temple star in Ying Tong - A Walk With The Goons, by Roy Smiles, directed by Michael Kingsbury, opening at the New Ambassadors Theatre on 10th February. The show is an exploration of the mind and comic logic of Spike Milligan. It played earlier this year at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, who are co-presenting with Michael Codron, National Angels, the Ambassador Theatre Group, Incidental Colman and Mick Perrin Productions.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Ewan McGregor will make his stage musical debut with American musical theatre and TV actress Jane Krakowski in Guys And Dolls, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and book by Abe Burrows and Jo Swerlin, directed by Michael Grandage, opening at the Piccadilly Theatre in June. The 'musical fable of Broadway' is based on Damon Runyan's short stories of colourful New York characters, revolving around a gambler who bets he can make the next girl he sees fall in love with him, only to find that she is a Salvation Army worker. It is a co-production by the Donmar Warehouse, ClearChannel Entertainment and the Ambassador Theatre Group. Jailhouse Rock, currently playing at the Piccadilly, will transfer to the Albery Theatre in April.

Surprisingly, BBC2 is to show a recording of an entire unedited performance of Jerry Springer The Opera, the award winning musical currently playing at the Cambridge Theatre, on 8th January, as part of an evening that will include a feature on the creation of the show and an interview with Jerry Springer. The show, which has music by Richard Thomas, book and lyrics by Richard Thomas and Stewart Lee, and is directed by Lee, features David Soul in the title role, and David Bedella as his diabolical warm-up man. An ordinary day for the television 'people show' host turns into a nightmare when one guest goes too far. With 'health warnings' outside the theatre because of the language and content, this will be a television landmark. Mary Whitehouse truly will be turning in her grave. Further information on the show can be found via the link opposite.

The Bush Theatre has announced its new year season. The Mama Quillo company's production of Kay Adshead's Bites, 'a feast of love, revenge and death, spread across seven courses, ranging from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay to Texas', with Ishia Bennison, Karina Fernandez, Yvonne Gidden, Chris Jarman and Owen Oakeshott, directed by Lisa Goldman, will play from 14th January to 5th February. This will be followed by the Rough Magic company's production Gerald Murphy's Take Me Away, a dark comedy about the collapse of family life in the new Ireland, with Aidan Kelly, Joe Hanley, Vincent McCabe and Barry Ward, directed by Lynne Parker, running from 11th February to 5th March. The Bush's director Mike Bradwell will direct the premiere of Sharman MacDonald's The Girl With The Red Hair, which tells the story of how strangers, friends and family in a small community are united by their grief at the death of seventeen year old girl, a co-production opening on 19th February at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, prior to a prospective London season.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Dept A reminder that this is the peak season for the purchase of Theatre Tokens. Available in units of 5, 10 and 20, they can be exchanged for tickets at over 230 venues nationwide, including all West End theatres. As they have no expiry date, the recipient can choose which show they want to see, and when and where they want to see it. The Tokens are delivered in a presentation pack with a free theatre guide, and can be combined with chocolates, programme and drinks vouchers, and accommodation or meal packages. Tokens are available from most theatres, major bookshops and ticket agencies, and the tkts Ticket Booths in Leicester Square and Canary Wharf. Alternatively they can be bought direct from the 24/7 Tokenline on 0870 164 8800 or online from the Theatre Tokens web site via the link from The Emporium section of TheatreNet. If you purchase Tokens from either of the Tickets Booths you could win 100 of Tokens for yourself. Just answer a simple question on the entrance form included with each purchase, and return it to either Booth by 31st December. As they say, don't just give an object this Christmas - give an emotional experience.

The Royal Court Theatre's spring season will comprise: the premiere of Wild East, by April de Angelis, with Tom Brooke, Sylvestra Le Touzel and Helen Schlesinger, about a man interviewing for a job that will allow him to return to Russia, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, opening on 1st February; Debbie Tucker Green's Stoning Mary, with Claire-Louise Cordwell, a tale of child soldiers in the third world, directed by Marianne Elliott, opening on 5th April; and My Name Is Rachel Corrie, a one woman show with Megan Dodds as the American protester who perished beneath a bulldozer as she protected a Palestinian home, directed by Alan Rickman, opening on 14th April.