News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 18th May 2007

Once again there is a strong showing of British talent in this year's New York Tony Awards nominations. They are led by 10 nominations for The Coast Of Utopia, including Jennifer Ehle - Best Actress Play (Featured) and Best Play; 7 for Mary Poppins, including Gavin Lee Best Actor Musical (Leading), Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear - Best Choreography and Best Musical; 6 for Coram Boy, including Melly Still - Best Director Play; 6 for Journey's End, including David Grindley - Best Director Play and Best Revival; 3 for Frost/Nixon, Frank Langella - Best Actor Play (Leading), Michael Grandage - Best Director Play and Best Play; plus A Moon For The Misbegotten, Eve Best - Best Actress Play (Leading); The Year Of Magical Thinking, Vanessa Redgrave - Best Actress Play (Leading); Deuce, Angela Lansbury - Best Actress Play (Leading), and Company, John Doyle - Best Director Musical. The big American hitters are the musicals, with Spring Awakening 11, Grey Gardens 10, Curtains 8 and Legally Blonde 7. The winners will be announced at the 61st Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall on 10th June. The full list of nominees, and further information about the live webcast of the event, can be found on the Tony Awards web site, via the link from Organisations section of New York TheatreNet

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the musical Take Flight, lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr, music by David Shire, and book by John Weidman, directed by Sam Buntrock, will receive its world premiere at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark on 25th July. The show tells the story of the pioneers of manned flight, the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. The cast will include Sally Ann Triplett.

A stage presentation of Dad's Army, comprising three episodes of David Croft and Jimmy Perry's television comedy series about the home guard in the Second World War, with Leslie Grantham and Peter Martin, will open a national tour at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage at 5th September. The show will feature two 'lost' episodes, 'The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Walker' and 'A Stripe For Frazer', the original tapes of which were wiped, together with one of the most popular episodes, 'The Deadly Attachment'. The producers are Ed O'Driscoll and Calibre Theatre Company.

The 29th Association of British Theatre Technicians Theatre Show takes place at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London on 13th and 14th June. As usual it will be the complete theatre package, featuring the products of over 120 leading lighting, sound and staging manufacturers, costume, prop and scenery makers, and suppliers of seating and soft furnishings, box office and IT systems, print and publicity, insurance and legal services, drama schools, training and safety, books and publications, and leading theatre organisations. There will also be the presentations of the ABTT and Stage Management Association Awards. Further information and online registration can be found on the ABTT and SMA web sites via the links from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Shakespeare's Globe's new touring company will be launched with Romeo And Juliet, featuring a cast of 8, an 'original practices' production in the style of the first Globe, with a pared down set, directed by Edward Dick. It will perform outdoors across the country, beginning at the Globe on 17th June, and ending at Lord's Cricket Ground on 2nd September.

The musical Aspects Of Love, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart, with David Essex, Shona Lindsay, Matt Rawle and Poppy Tierney, directed by Nikolai Foster, with choreography by Gary Lloyd, will open a national tour at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle on 31st August. Adapted from the novella by David Garnett, it is a love story spanning twenty years, binding six people and three generations together, as they come to appreciate how love changes everything. The producers are Kenny Wax and Michael Harrison in association with PW Productions.

The 45th City Of London Festival, running from 22nd June to 12th July, once again has Trading Places as its theme, this year exploring the cultural exchange between London and France, particularly Paris and Marseilles, as well as marking the anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. The festival comprises the usual mixture of lunchtime, rush hour and evening events, with concerts of every kind of music, plus drama and poetry, installations and exhibitions of visual art, film screenings, and architectural walks and talks, in both historic and modern city buildings, and outdoors in squares and gardens. Among the highlights are the world premiere of the opera Bridgetower - A Fable Of 1807, music by Julian Joseph and libretto by Mike Phillips, about a black violinist who studied with Haydn and gave the first performance of Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata with the composer at the piano; Heinrich Schiff playing all Bach's Suites for solo cello in the Georgian Great Hall of St Bart's Hospital and St Bartholomew the Great in West Smithfield; and Willard White's Tribute To Paul Robeson in the Fishmongers' Hall. Further information can be found on the COLF web site, via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The summer season at the Finborough Theatre in Earl's Court will include Jean Paul Sartre's Men Without Shadows, translated by Kitty Black, set in occupied France in 1944, where five resistance fighters are summoned one by one for interrogation by their captors, directed by Mitchell Moreno, opening on 13th June; T W Robertson's Victorian comedy Ours, in which three women follow their prospective husbands to the battlefield in the Crimean War, directed by Phoebe Barron, opening on 10th July; and the English premiere of Robert McLennan's comedy Jamie The Saxt, the story of the young King James VI of Scotland (before he became the first monarch of the United Kingdom) who triumphed through an unheroic combination of luck, folly, tenacity and cunning, directed by Rae Mcken, opening on 7th August.

The National Theatre is to hold a celebration to mark the centenary of the birth of Sir Laurence Olivier, its first director, on Sunday 23rd September. A statue of Olivier as Hamlet by Angela Conner will be unveiled in Theatre Square at 4.30pm. In the evening, in the theatre that bears his name, his widow Joan Plowright, Eileen Atkins, Claire Bloom, Anna Carteret, Derek Jacobi, Charles Kay, Clive Merrison, Edward Petherbridge, Ronald Pickup and Billie Whitelaw, will tell the story of Olivier's working life as an actor and director through film and stage extracts, letters, reminiscence and readings. The National's neighbour, BFI Southbank, will present a season of Olivier films during August and September, including Rebecca, King Lear and Henry V.

The Rumour Machine says: that the current Broadway production of the Doug Wright-Michael Korie-Scott Frankel musical Grey Gardens, directed by Michael Greif, telling the extraordinary story of the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, will come to London, complete with star Christine Ebersole, late this year or early next; that the current Bush Theatre production of Simon Bent's Elling, about a dysfunctional couple trying to convince their social worker that they have reassimilated back into society, with John Simm, Adrian Bower, Keir Charles, Ingrid Lacey and Jonathan Cecil, may be West End bound; and that a stage musical adaptation of the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan, featuring the greatest hits of Blondie, in which an amnesiac New Jersey housewife thinks she is the eponymous free spirit who is being sought by the mob in Manhattan, may premiere at the Gielgud Theatre in November. The Rumour Machine grinds on.