News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 18th August 2006

The Society Of London Theatre's ninth Kids Week in the West End is now on, running until 1st September, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience, with thousands of free tickets and special events. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to over 30 West End shows, with up to two additional children at half price. Over 35 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. Latest information can be found via the link opposite.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Nottingham Playhouse production of Tennessee Williams's rarely performed Summer And Smoke, starring Rosamund Pike, Chris Carmack, Sebastian Abineri, Michael Brown, David Killick, Tom Lawrence, Kate O'Toole, Chris Ravenscroft, Hanne Steen and Hannah Stokely, directed by Adrian Noble, will transfer to the Apollo Theatre, opening on 18th October. Set in Mississippi in 1916, it is the tale of the daughter of a minister whose youthful passion is rekindled by the return of a neighbour's prodigal son. It is the first time the play, later rewritten by Williams and produced under another title, has been performed in the West End. The producer is Stanhope Productions.

Andrew Doyle's new version of the previous Edinburgh Fringe hit Shamlet, directed by James Robert Carson, will open at the King's Head Theatre in Islington on 31st August. A backstage comedy, it revolves around a shady producer mounting an incompetent production of Hamlet in Stratford upon Avon, as a cover for robbing Shakespeare's grave in the hope of finding an undiscovered play. The cast includes Debbie Arnold, Andrew Beavis, Gregory Floy, Grainne Gillis, Maxine Howe, David Janson, Dorothy Lawrence, Leo Richardson, Pauline Shanahan and Tom Walker. The producer is David Donigan.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Theatre Royal Bath production of David Hare's Amy's View, with Felicity Kendal, Jenna Russell, Gawn Grainger, Ryan Kiggell and Antonia Pemberton, directed by Peter Hall, will transfer to the Garrick Theatre, opening on 20th November. This is the revised Broadway version of a portrait of a disillusioned actress and mother who is forced to re-evaluate her career, values, family relationships and finances over a 15 year period from 1979.

Paul Nicholas will star in the recent Tony Award winning Broadway production of the musical 42nd Street, directed by Mark Bramble, with choreography by Randy Skinner, which will open an extensive regional tour at the Theatre Royal Nottingham on 26th February. The tour will use the sets and costumes from the Broadway production. Adapted from the 1933 film, with book by Mark Bramble and Michael Stewart, music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin, it is the classic backstage musical story of a chorus girl going on to replace the injured leading lady and becoming a star. The producer is UK Productions.

New York TheatreNet: The new Manhattan Theatre Club season at City Center will comprise world or American premieres of Paul Rudnick's Regrets Only, a comedy of Manhattan manners, exploring contemporary marriage and friendship, with Christine Baranski, Sian Phillips, George Grizzard, Jackie Hoffman, Diane Davis and David Rasche, directed by Christopher Ashley; David Harrower's Blackbird, a series of untoward events ensue when a woman with whom he has begun a relationship appears at a man's office, with Jeff Daniels, Matthew Arkin and Michele Pawk, directed by Joe Mantello; and Charles Busch's Our Leading Lady, directed by Lynne Meadow; plus Clifford Odets's The Country Girl.

Perfect Pitch, a festival of new British musicals, will run at Upstairs At The Gatehouse in Highgate Village from 12th to 24th September. The 12 shows included, in varying stages of development, run anything from 20 minutes to just over an hour, and will be presented in different combinations of 2 or 3 each evening. 11 have already been selected, and they will be joined by a further show chosen from this year's Edinburgh Fringe. Further information about the festival can be found on the Musical Theatre Matters web site via the link from Writing in the Links section of TheatreNet

On The Casting Couch: Anna Maxwell Martin, James Dreyfus, Sheila Hancock, Geoffrey Hutchings and Michael Hayden will star in Kander and Ebb's Cabaret, opening at the Lyric Theatre on 10th October.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's new season will include the premiere of Cyrano, David Bintley's ballet based on Edmond Rostand's classic romance Cyrano de Bergerac, with a score by Carl Davis, at Birmingham Hippodrome on 7th February; and the company's second Stravinsky Triple Bill, comprising George Balanchine's Agon, Symphony In Three Movements and Stravinsky Violin Concerto performed by the company for the first time on 14th February.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has confirmed details of its 100m transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, designed by Elizabeth Scott in 1932. The redesigned main auditorium will seat 1,030 in courtyard style, reduced from the 1,400 capacity in the current proscenium arch format. The scheme by architects Bennetts Associates will restore the key art deco elements of the Grade II listed building, while creating a combined entrance for both the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres, and expanded public areas, which will include a 100ft tower, providing circulation to all parts of the building, as well as improved backstage and production facilities. There will also be an outdoor performance space. Subject to receiving planning permission, work is scheduled to start next spring, and be completed in 2010.

Forthcoming productions at the Shaw Theatre in Euston include the Fer'vent Theatre production of John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men, the classic tale of the American depression of two itinerant farm workers who buy a small farm of their own, but find the ensuing hardship tests their friendship to its limits, directed by Mike Bernardin, opening on 4th October; Janet Suzman in Frobisher's Gold, by Fraser Gold, about a journey to Alaska by the court of Elizabeth I, opening on 24th October; and the Ensemble Theatre production of Jose Sanchis Sinisterra's !Ay Carmela!, in a new translation by Steve Trafford, music by Christopher Madin, with Elizabeth Mansfield and Robert Pickavance as a vaudeville double act forced to put on a show of songs, dance and sketches for fascist forces during the Spanish civil war, directed by Tom Wright, opening on 7th November.