News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 18th July 2008

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the 11th Kids Week In The West End, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience, with thousands of free tickets and special events. Once again this year it has double the fun, as it is extended to a fortnight, running from 15th to 29th August. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to 29 West End shows, with up to two additional children at half price. Over 20 accompanying events will be taking place during the two weeks, including backstage tours, workshops, classes, storytelling and 'meet the cast' opportunities, plus special activities the under 5s. There are also freebies and discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages. Further information can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link opposite.

The long heralded musical Come Dancing, story, music and lyrics by Ray Davies, book by Davies and Paul Sirett, with additional material by Terry Johnson, directed by Kerry Michael, with choreography Omar Okai, will finally premiere at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, on 24th September. It is set in and around the Ilford Palais ballroom in the 1950s, and evokes the time when Saturday night dancing at the local palais was the highlight of every young person's week. Other than the Kinks 1983 hit title song the score is new material.

The 2008/2009 season at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill will comprise Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, in a new contemporary adaptation by Lucy Kirkwood, with Cara Horgan, Adrian Bower, Christopher Obi, Alice Patten and Cath Whitefield, directed by Carrie Cracknell, with choreography by Temitope Ajose-Cutting, opening on 28th August; the British premiere of German playwright Falk Richter's State Of Emergency, translated by David Tushingham, an Orwellian nightmare drama in which a couple's ideal neighbourhood becomes a new form of prison, directed by Maria Aberg, opening on 11th November; and Unbroken, inspired by Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde, about a series of sexual encounters, combining text by Alexandra Wood and dance, with Gemma Higginbotham and Darren Ellis, directed by Natalie Abrahami, and choreographed by Ugo Dehaes, from 10th February. The Gate production of I Am Falling, a dance theatre piece exploring the realities of an aging body and an agile mind, directed by Carrie Cracknell, and choreographed by Anna Williams, will transfer to the Lilian Baylis studio at Sadler's Wells from 29th October.

The Theatres Trust has published its annual Theatre Buildings at Risk Register, which comprises 34 of England's most endangered theatre buildings. There are three new entrants in the top ten of this list of national shame, two post Second World War buildings, the Gardner Arts Centre in Brighton and the Redgrave Theatre in Farnham, and the Bradford Odeon, a large cine-variety theatre. These replace three venues from last year's register, which have been 'saved' - the Lonsdale Cinema, the Theatre Royal Hyde, whose new owner is looking to carry out repairs, and the Doncaster Grand, which is in the process of being sold to a local support group. The trust's list includes all theatre buildings at risk, regardless of whether they have listed status or not. The others in the top ten are Wilton's Music Hall in London, Swindon Mechanics' Institute, Plymouth Palace Theatre, Derby Hippodrome, Burnley Empire, Hulme Hippodrome, Hulme Playhouse and the Globe in Stockton-on-Tees

The autumn season at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre will include Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, in a new adaptation by April De Angelis, charting the doomed love affair of the free spirited Catherine and dark, brooding Heathcliff, with Amanda Ryan, directed by Indhu Rubasingham, opening on 30th September; the musical Privates On Parade, book and lyrics by Peter Nicholls, music by Denis King, about a British army entertainment unit in late 1940s Malaya, directed by Ian Brown, opening on 24th October, a co-production with the West Yorkshire Playhouse; C S Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, adapted by Adrian Mitchell, in which a wardrobe in a house in wartime Britain is a portal to another world, directed by Ian Brown, with choreography by Ann Yee, opening on 2nd December, also a co-production with the West Yorkshire Playhouse; and Philip Pulman's His Dark Materials, in Nicholas Wright's two part adaptation of the trilogy charting an epic journey into unknown worlds, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, opening on 14th and 20th March.

On The Casting Couch: Ben Miles and Amanda Root will join Amelia Bullmore, Jessica Hynes, Stephen Mangan and Paul Ritter in The Norman Conquests, opening at the Old Vic Theatre on 6th October; and Samuel West and Penelope Wilton will head the cast in The Family Reunion, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 25th November.

The autumn season at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury will include Ade Morris's Mickey Salberg's Crystal Ballroom Dance Band, a comedy set in Britain in the late 1950s, as the birth of Rock 'n' Roll heralded a time of social change, directed by Guy Retallick, opening a regional tour on 2nd September; Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good, set around a theatre production mounted by a convict settlement in Australia in the 1780s, directed by Alex Clifton, opening on 22nd September; and the family show Matilda And Duffy's Stupendous Space Adventure, by Steve Attridge, with music by Sarah Travis, opening on 29th November.

The Pretender Agenda, written and directed by Christopher Manoe, with Emily Aston, Lucy Benjamin, Sue Devaney, Scott Hinds, Ben Jones, Vincenzo Pellegrino and Lee Ryan, will open at the New Players Theatre, under The Arches at Charing Cross Station on 28th August. It is set at an office party, during which secrets lurking behind respectable facades are revealed, and is a co-production by the New Players Theatre and INC Productions.

The Rumour Machine says: that the 2005 Donmar Warehouse production Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart, with Janet McTeer as Mary Queen of Scots and Harriet Walter as Queen Elizabeth I, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, will be Broadway bound next spring; and that Richard Griffiths will star in Arthur Wing Pinero's farce The Magistrate, directed by Thea Sharrock, late next year, and Ralph Fiennes and Ken Stott will head a production of Anton Chekov's Uncle Vanya, directed by Matthew Warchus, in early 2010, both produced by David Pugh under the banner of the historic production company name of H M Tennant. The Rumour Machine grinds on.