News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 18th May 2001

The run of The Vagina Monologues the New Ambassadors Theatre is to be extended. Following the pattern of New York, having established the franchise, Eve Ensler will leave on 17th June, to be replaced by trios of actresses in fortnightly rotations. The first group will be Maureen Lipman, Edie Falco and Sophie Okonedo. This is contrary to last week's report that Thembi Mtshali would bring her show A Woman In Waiting there. Clearly she will be waiting a while longer.

The first National Broadway Theatre Awards, nicknamed the Star Awards, which cover Broadway shows touring across America, and are uniquely voted for by the theatregoing public, have produced some interesting results. Barry Humphries has won Best Actor in a Play for Dame Edna - The Royal Tour, which itself won Best Play! The only British representative was Sam Mendes, who took Best Director for Cabaret. Full details of nominations and winners can be found on the NBTA web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

A stage version of the 1954 film musical White Christmas, which boasts a score by Irving Berlin, will open at the Savoy Theatre on 8th October. Two Second World War veterans, now a song and dance act, follow two singing sisters to a Vermont lodge owned by their former commander, where Christmas trade has been hit by a lack of snow. Guess what happens in the finale. The show will be directed by Paul Blake of the Muny Theatre St Louis, choreographed by Thommie Walsh, designed by Brian Thomson, and produced by John Gore and Paramount.

In the meantime, Ute Lemper will return to the West End at the Savoy on 2nd July. She will appear in Naughty Baby, a new show of her own, which will comprise standards old and new.

Nicholas Hawkesmoor's Christ Church hosts the 25th Spitalfields Festival from 4th to 22nd June. The programme features a wide range of music from medieval, to newly commissioned work by Tansy Davies, and performers from Christ Church Cathedral Choir Oxford, to Premiere Crew and Manickam Yogeswaran. Once again, in addition to the lunchtime and evening concerts, there are a series of free early evening rush hour events featuring leading young performers and composers. All this plus fringe events, walks, talks and exhibitions about the Spitalfields area and the restoration of Christ Church, one of the great baroque churches of Europe. Full details can be found on the Spitalfields Festival web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Shadow Arts Council has issued an Election Manifesto For Serious Arts, asking candidates to commit themselves to a major revival of public support for the arts, and calling for government funding to be doubled to 100m annually by the end of the next parliament. Commenting on recent increases in funding chairman Peter Hall said "The new money for theatre, welcome though it is, does not make up for years of standstill and reduction." The SAC is also asking for more local interaction between arts, business and media companies in the regions, for expert advisory bodies to be set up for each arts discipline composed of leading practitioners, and the return of the arts to the core curriculum in schools.

The Theatre Museum is hosting a series of talks on great British actors of the 20th century, beginning on 3rd June. It will celebrate the achievements of John Gielgud, Edith Evans, Michael Redgrave and Laurence Olivier. Each talk will include a presentation by the theatre historian Frances Hughes and a discussion chaired by Gyles Brandreth. Guests joining in these discussions will include Corin Redgrave, Dulcie Gray, Barry Morse, Bryan Forbes, Peter Barkworth, Alan Strachan and Edward Petherbridge.

>Barry Fantoni has written 'a multi sensory performance experience' Rooms Of The House, which is running until 16th June at a house in Clapham. Audiences of up to 30 wander through the building and learn about the previous life of its owner, eavesdropping on 'conversations' between the rooms of the house, played by Jessica Barnes, Faith Brook, Su Douglas and Angela Saul. Catherine Hoffmann directs an All This Time Theatre Company production. Further information can be found on the ROTH web site via the link form the Shows section of TheatreNet.

Demos & Closures: There will be a march through the city of London on 22nd May to protest against plans to demolish the Mermaid Theatre. Organised by the Save London's Theatres Campaign, it will start at the Royal Exchange at mid-day, proceed to the Mermaid, and then go on to Guildhall where a petition will be handed in. London's Town Crier will lead the march, and Jean Boht, Nichola McAuliffe, Chubby Oates and Bill Paterson are among those who have pledged to take part. The Corporation of London planning department will make a decision by the autumn.

After twelve years in the West End The Woman In Black is heading for New York, where she will be causing audiences at the Minetta Lane Theatre to jump out of their seats from 4th June. Keith Baxter and Jared Reed will star in Stephen Mallatratt's deceptively simple adaptation of Susan Hill's novel.

Stratford Circus, a new performing arts centre housing four performance spaces, meeting rooms, a computer suite, bars and a cafe, will open on 14th June. Located in Theatre Square, adjacent to the still refurbishing Theatre Royal Stratford East, it is a new three storey building which incorporates a video wall reflecting the inside of the building to the outside world. It also contains two art works, Light Tower Lift by Peter Freeman, an installation of 30,000 fibre optic lights, and Ron Hasleden's Floor, containing tiles which light up according to people's movements across it. The centre plans to offer 2000 events a year, including drama, music and dance performances of all kinds, plus a programme of classes, workshops and community events. Further information can be found on the Stratford Circus web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.