News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th March 1999

The previously mentioned revival of D L Coburn's Pulizer Prize winning play The Gin Game, with Joss Ackland and Dorothy Tutin, opens at the Savoy Theatre on 31st March. A gin rummy game between inmates of an old people's home provides the trigger to revelations which lead to an explosion. Frith Banbury, who surely should be an expert on both theatre and old age, directs. The American two hander's last West End outing was with husband and wife team Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. A laundry list of producers is headed by TEG Productions.

Wilton's Music Hall springs into life again from 29th March to 18th April, when Broomhill Opera perform The Silverlake, a satirical opera with music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Georg Kaiser, in a new translation by Rory Bremner. Wilton's, the oldest surviving music hall in London, is in Grace Alley off Cable Street E1.

The much heralded revival of The Pajama Game, with book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell and music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, is finally moving into production, directed by Simon Callow and choreographed by David Bintley. The casting is a revelation - it features Ulrika Jonsson (yes Ulrika Jonsson), performance poet John Hegley, and disco diva Alison Limerick, in addition to the more likely Anita Dobson and Graham Bickley. This was originally a milestone musical, being the first to be about an industrial dispute, and to feature a duet with a dictaphone, and seems destined to be one again. It plays at Birmingham Rep from 23rd April to 29th May, and then tours (including Toronto), prior to the West End, and is a co-production with the Ambassadors Group and the Musicals Alliance.

Miranda Richardson is the latest film name to grace the stage of the Almeida Theatre (with decreasingly effective results if the response to Speer is anything to go by). She is to appear with American actress Glenne Headly in Wallace Shawn's unusual comedy Aunt Dan and Lemon, directed by Tom Cairns, from 5th May to 5th June. Other Almeida news: Marivaux's The Triumph Of Love in new version by Martin Crimp, directed by James McDonald; and Marlowe's The Jew of Malta directed by Michael Grandage, will play in the Almeida's Malvern Theatre residency, and then tour, before arriving in Islington in the Autumn.

Despite its current financial problems, the Warehouse Theatre Croydon is holding its 14th International Playwriting Festival, supported by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation. It is in two parts: a competition with entries from all over the world, followed by a series of workshops and readings, leading on to the presentation of the best work in November. For full details send a stamp addressed envelope to Rose Marie Vernon, Warehouse Theatre, Dingwall Road, Croydon CR0 2NF. The deadline for entries is 30th June. There is a link to the Warehouse web site from our UK London Venues section.

The Bridewell Theatre is staging an unusual double bill of Tom Stoppard's play After Magritte, and Michael Nyman's Munchausen's syndrome chamber opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, from 21st April to 23rd May, both directed by Carole Metcalfe. As part of the City Of London Festival in July, the Bridewell will present the UK premiere of the Off Broadway musical Floyd Collins, with book by Tina Landau and music and lyrics by Adam Guettel.

Michael Codron is to produce Ronald Harwood's new play Quartet in the West End in September. It will feature Stephanie Cole, Alec McCowen, Donald Sinden and Angela Thorne, directed by Christopher Morahan. Codron will also bring Alan Aycbourn's latest play Comic Potential to London in October. It explores Aycbourn's technophobia, imagining the near future when television soap opera actors have been replaced by android "actoids" (yes I know, but leave Grant Mitchell out of this) It premiered in Scarborough last Autumn.

Assuming the already announced season of Making Noise Quietly and Three Sisters is successful, the Oxford Stage Company will return to the Whitehall Theatre in the Autumn, with the currently ubiquitous Troilus And Cressida and John Whiting's A Penny For A Song. Both these productions will tour before coming to London.

Michael Sheen, recently Mozart in Amadeus, will play Jimmy Porter in John Osborne's 1956 Royal Court French window shattering play Look Back In Anger at the National Theatre from 15th July. Greg Hersov directs. Meanwhile back at Amadeus, Nicholas Le Provost will succeed David Suchet as Salieri on 19th April.

Further events added to BITE:99 at the Barbican are: Maly Drama Theatre in Chekhov's Platonov; Theatre Nanterre Amandiers in Miravaux's The Game Of Love And Chance; Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes presentation of Tinka's New Dress, based on illegal puppet shows performed in Czechoslovakia during the Nazi occupation; The Wresting School in Scenes From An Execution, directed by Howard Brenton; Heiner Goebbels Black On White, a music and prose tribute to Heiner Muller; and a Unicorn Theatre production of Yemaya - Goddess Of The Sea, a children's show devised with Cuban artists.

The English Cricket Board is attempting to emulate the youth'n'glamour image of football, by enlisting the help of celebrity enthusiasts such as Robbie Williams, Elton John and Jamie Theakston. It has hired the Royal Albert Hall for a combined indoor celebrity match and concert on 11th May, to be organised by Harvey Goldsmith. The Board hopes that Dave Stewart's World Cup anthem, variously quoted as Life Is A Carnival and All Over The World (both registering an appropriately high Blandness Quotient), and a compilation album of songs by other artists will "rebrand " cricket as a "cool" sport. Meanwhile there are also plans for an unofficial World Cup song by the Barmy Army supporters, to the tune of the BBC cricket theme.