Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
The Three Musketeers, which won second prize in the international Musical Of The Year 1996 competetion, will go into production next summer. The book is by Peter Raby, lyrics by Paul Leigh, and music by George Stiles - who also won the best song prize with Anthony Drewe for their version of Peter Pan. One report says Musketeers will be produced by Apollo Leisure, opening at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, with hopefully London to follow. Another says it will be Duncan Weldon producing, opening at Chichester. Time will tell.
Talking of musical competitions, The Mercury Workshop is hoping to set up a British one next summer. The winner will receive a co-production by a number of regional theatres, playing 2-4 weeks in each location. So far sixteen venues have expressed an interest in taking part.
Following a summer season at Blackpool, and an exhaustive tour, the stage version of Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday has finally found a London home - even if it is a bit "off Shaftesbury Ave". Darren Day will be driving his big red bus on to the stage of the Apollo Hammersmith from 4th July to 20th September. Incidentally, the same London venue as Cliff's Heathcliff.
Staying On, an adaptation by Kenneth Proud of Paul Scott's 1977 Booker prizewinner arrives in London in April. It stars Richard Johnson and Prunella Scales as a retired colonel and his wife who decide remain in India after the end of British rule. Saeed Jaffrey is (inevitably) the Indian lead. Peter James, who has just opened Plunder at the Savoy theatre, will direct.
Bill Kenwright has taken over the Theatre Royal Windsor which went into liquidation last May. His first season will include the musical version of Stepping Out - just completeing a highly successful run at Leatherhead - which will then tour through the summer, before coming into a Shaftesbury Avenue theatre at the beginning of September.
There are problems with the London production of Rent - the reworking of La Boheme in present day lower east side New York - which is currently Broadway's hottest ticket. Cameron Mackintosh, who was originally to have general managed it, has pulled out, unwilling to put up with the behaviour of the army of New York co-producers. In any case his Prince Of Wales Theatre (it's intended home) may not be free, if business at Smokey Joe's Cafe continues as it is at the moment. The Piccadilly Theatre (almost always available) is now under consideration. A further complication is that producer Duncan Weldon is also reported to have an interest in the show.
Following the success of the more traditional production of La Boheme at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year, Raymond Gubbay will present Carmen from 6th to 11th February. Directed by Frank Dunlop with the BBC Concert Orchestra.