News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th January 2007

In the nominations for this year's Laurence Olivier Awards, Monty Python's Spamalot, heads the list with 7 nominations, including Best Actor (Musical) - Tim Curry, Best Actress (Musical) - Hannah Waddingham and Best New Musical, followed by Sunday In The Park With George with 6 nominations, including Best Actor (Musical) - Daniel Evans, Best Actress (Musical) - Jenna Russell and Outstanding Musical, but the biggest surprise is the lack of nominations in those categories for Wicked, which has 4 nominations, Best Director - Joe Mantello and Best Set, Costume and Lighting Designs. Among the plays, there is a split between Rock'N'Roll with 4 nominations, including Best Actor - Rufus Sewell, Best Actress - Sinead Cusack, and Best New Play; A Moon For The Misbegotten with 3 nominations, including Best Actress - Eve Best, and Best Revival; and Frost/Nixon with 3 nominations, Best Actor - Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, and Best New Play. In opera English National Opera took most of the nominations, as did the Royal Ballet in dance. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Sunday 18th February. Full details of the nominations can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite below.

It's Official! Elaine Paige will play the title role in the hit Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone, in which a musical theatre fan, played as in New York by co-book writer Bob Martin, finds a show materialising in his living room, opening at the Novello Theatre on 6th June. The parody 1920s romantic musical is the tale of a Broadway starlet who wants to give up show business to get married, but her producer, not wanting to lose her, sets out to sabotage the wedding. The show has music and lyrics by Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison, book by Don McKellar and Martin, and is directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw. The producers are Kevin McCollum, Roy Miller, Boyett Ostar, Stephanie McClelland and Barbara Freitag and Jill Furman.

The Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park has announced its 75th anniversary season, which runs from 28th May to 16th September, and comprises: Macbeth, directed by Edward Kemp; a new production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Christopher Luscombe; George and Ira Gershwin's musical Lady Be Good!, book by Guy Bolton and Fred Thompson, about penniless siblings evicted from their Rhode Island mansion, the brother seeks solvency by marrying an heiress, and the sister tries to save him from a loveless marriage, directed by Ian Talbot, in his 20th and final year as artistic director; plus the return of last year's production of Sandy Wilson's The Boyfriend, a musical romance set in 1920s Niece, also directed by Talbot; and as the daytime children's play, Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox, adapted by David Wood, in which the wily Mr Fox outwits the farmers intent on ridding their farm of him by any means possible. There will also be Sunday and late night cabaret and comedy from Ed Byrne, Jimmy Carr and The Comedy Store Players.

On The Casting Couch: Ian McKellen will be joined by Frances Barber, Monica Dolan, Romola Garai, Jonathan Hyde, William Gaunt, Sylvester McCoy and Ben Meyjes in the Royal Shakespeare Company productions of King Lear and The Seagull, directed by Trevor Nunn, opening in Stratford on 24th March prior to a world tour.

Cardiff Council has withdrawn funding from the biennial Cardiff International Festival of Musical Theatre, despite the fact that the last festival in 2006 generated an estimated 1.4m income for the city, against council funding of just 400,000 (remaining funding was made up by BBC Wales and commercial sponsorship). The next festival was scheduled for 2008. The CIFMT board is now considering options to take the festival to another UK regional city. Meanwhile in London, the future of Battersea Arts Centre - the venue that launched the multi award winning Jerry Springer: The Opera - is threatened, as Wandsworth Borough Council has decided both to cut off all funding, currently 100,000 a year, and raise the rent to over 270,000. The council says that BAC has been so successful that it is no longer a local amenity, and should receive funding from city wide or national sources.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the current Menier Chocolate Factory production of the Off Broadway musical Little Shop Of Horrors, music by Alan Menkin, book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, directed by Matthew White, with choreography by Lynne Page, will transfer to the Duke of York's Theatre on 12th March. Alistair McGowan will join Sheridan Smith, Paul Keating and Barry James in the show that is loosely based on Roger Corman's 1960 film about a flesh eating plant, for which Mike McShane provides the voice.

Henri Oguike Dance Company has just opened a regional tour with a repertoire that includes the world premieres of Green In Blue, Oguike's first foray into jazz, in collaboration with saxophonist Iain Ballamy, and Little Red, set to two Vivaldi violin concertos, as well as Front Line, performed to Shostakovich's 9th Quartet, played live by the Pavao Quartet, Tiger Dancing, inspired by William Blake's poem The Tyger, set to a score by Steve Martland, and Expression Lines, performed by Oguike to the Saharan blues of guitarist Ali Farka Toure.

New York TheatreNet: Singles' Night On Broadway, a pilot for The League of American Theatres and Producers' new programme that invites theatregoers to pre show and post show singles parties, will take place February 28th. Anyone aged 21 or older who purchases a ticket to one of over 20 participating Broadway or Off Broadway shows for that night can attend a free cocktail party at Madame Tussauds New York from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, and an after show party at one of three restaurants. The League is planning to pilot another new program, Women's Night On Broadway, in the near future.

The next productions at Trafalgar Studios 2 have been announced. Lizzie Roper will perform her Edinburgh Fringe hit docu-comedy Peccadillo Circus, in which she reveals the fetishes and secrets gleaned from interviews conducted with the general public, directed by Leisa Rea, from 14th February to 3rd March. Three early short plays by Tennessee Williams exploring autobiographical themes, which were unpublished until last year, will receive their European premiere under the title Lovely And Misfit, from 8th to 31st March, directed Anna Ledwich. The plays are: And Tell Sad Stories Of The Death Of Queens, about a gay transvestite in French quarter of New Orleans; Mister Paradise, the story of a young woman looking for the author of a book of poetry, whom she is determined to make famous; and Summer At The Lake, about young man dealing with his family relationships, adulthood and emerging sexuality. The producer is Fish Productions.