News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th January 2001

Following the success of the Kids Week in the West End promotion, the Society Of London Theatre has moved up a generation with Take A Date Or Bring A Mate. People aged between 15 and 25 can buy best available tickets for just £10 for 27 West End shows between 29th January and 2nd February. All they have to do is phone the number given for the show of their choice, quote "Take A Date Or Bring A Mate" when booking, and show proof of age when collecting their tickets from the box office. Shows participating cover every type, with savings of up to £27.50 per ticket. There is a maximum of two tickets per person. Full details of shows and numbers can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite.

Dawn French is to play Bottom in a feminist staging of A Midsummer Night's Dream opening at the Albery Theatre on 16th March. The concept locates the action in a Brideshead style English stately home during the Second World War, with the men away and members of the WVS and Women's Land Army fulfilling the roles of the Mechanicals. Casting (which is not yet complete) also includes Jemma Redgrave, Will Keen, Tilly Blackwood, and Gillian Kearney. Francis Matthews will direct and Adventures in Motion Pictures producer Katherine Dore presides.

Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet will play a four week season at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in three different programmes. 24th April to 3rd May: Swan Lake Act II , Glower Festival At Genzano and pas de deux from The Nutcracker, Giselle, La Bayadere and Don Quixote. 4th to 10th May: Chopiniana and pas de deux from Spartacus, Les Sylphides, La fille mal gardee, Romeo And Juliet, Sleeping Beauty and Raymonda. 11th to 19th May: La Bayadere Act III, Le Spectre de la Rose, Narcissus, Dying Swan, Grand Pas Classique and pas de deux from Swan Lake and Don Quixote.

Simon Williams, Catherine Rabett, Kern Falconer and Graham McTavish star in Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon's adaptation of John Buchan's The 39 Steps. The show, which opens a pre West End tour at Yvonne Arnaud Guildford from 24th January to 3rd February, enjoyed a great success early last year at the Queen's Hornchurch. It tells the very British tale of a 1930s spy adventure, including a multiplicity of characters, train journeys, a bi-plane flight and the hero's leap from the Forth Bridge, employing just four actors and very limited resources in a highly imaginative way. Richard Baron directs, and the producer is Edward Snape.

Backstage is moving on stage, both On and Off Broadway in the next few months. First comes a new play "If It Was Easy...", by Stewart Lane and Ward Morehouse III, about the trials and tribulations of a Broadway producer and a tabloid columnist creating a show called "Sinatra, the Musical". This opens at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre on 15th February. A Class Act is a musical which gives the low down on the true story of lyricist Edward Kleban taking A Chorus Line through the production process from workshop to Broadway - and what happened afterwards. It features new music and lyrics by Edward Kleban, and book by Linda Kline and Lonny Price, who also directs. Following a sell out run at Manhattan Theatre Club it moves to Broadway's Ambassador Theatre opening on 11th March. And finally, the piece of resistance, the musical based on Mel Brook's The Producers opens at the St James Theatre on 19th April.

Lee Menzies and actor Patrick Ryecart are to present An Evening With Tommy Cooper, a new play by John Fisher set during Cooper's final performance in a televised variety programme. Fisher's background is in television light entertainment. It is scheduled for the West End in the autumn with Alan Ayckbourn directing.

The world stage premiere of Winston Graham's psychological thriller Marnie takes place at the Haymarket Theatre Basingstoke from 22nd January until 3rd February, prior to a regional tour. Famously filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1964, this adaptation by director Sean O'Connor is more faithful to the darker original work. This is a co-production with Chester Gateway Theatre. The Haymarket has four other premieres in its current season. Zena Walker stars in Rodney Clark's Moving Susan, a poignant comedy about a newly widowed woman, from 23rd February to 17th March, a co-production with Greenwich Theatre. Criminal Acts is a season of three one act plays in repertoire from 18th to 28th April, celebrating crime fiction in the styles of Tarantino, Hitchcock and Jeffrey Archer, directed by Brendon Burns.

The Young Vic Theatre is to offer free tickets to people living in its surrounding boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. The scheme is designed to increase local attendance and participation in the theatre's activities, and almost 500,000 people will be eligible to apply for tickets. The scheme will begin in May, with a production of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin In The Sun featuring Lennie James. Its 1959 Broadway premiere was theatrical watershed, being the first artistic and commercial success for a serious play about an aspiring black family.

This year's season at Glyndebourne will include two new productions: Beethoven's Fidelio directed by Deborah Warner, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Simon Rattle, and Glyndebourne's first production of Verdi's Otello, directed by Peter Hall. There will be two revivals: Nikolaus Lehnoff's production of Janacek's The Makropulos Case will feature Anja Silja, conducted by Peter Eötvös making his British operatic debut. Peter Hall's production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream will be adapted for the new opera house, conducted by David Atherton making his Glyndebourne debut. Last year's production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, directed by Graham Vick and conducted by Louis Langrée will also return. The season will be completed by Harrison Birtwistle's latest stage work The Last Supper, directed by Martin Duncan and conducted by Elgar Howarth. Glyndebourne is to build a new £2.5m rehearsal space, similar in size to the stage, as part of the resources for its post graduate conservatiore programme designed to develop emerging singing talent.

And Finally . . . The Olivier Awards look as though they will prove controversial again, judging form the nominations announced this week. Jason Watkins, who plays the servant in A Servant To Two Masters and is thus barely off the stage for a minute, is nominated as Best Supporting Actor! Meanwhile Matthew Bourne's The Car Man has to battle with classical ballet in the Outstanding Achievement In Dance category. The Awards will be presented on 23rd February and tickets for the event are now on sale. Full details from the Laurence Olivier Awards web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.