News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th April 2002

The Little Angel Marionette Theatre in Islington (a stone's throw from the King's Head), which is the oldest and most respected puppet theatre in Britain, is about to close because of funding problems. The home of British puppetry lost local council funding two years ago and has not been able to find alternative sources of finance. The theatre has staged its uniquely entertaining shows every weekend throughout the year and during the week in school holidays, as well as touring at home and abroad, on miniscule resources. Now is the time for someone to step forward to save this unique institution. Further information can be found on the Little Angel web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Madonna will be joined by Michael Lerner, Sian Thomas, Megan Dodds Tom Irwin Danny Pino and Debora Weston in the already sold out season of David Williamson's Up For Grabs at Wyndhams, opening on 23rd May. The story concerns an art dealer pitting her various customers against one another in a bidding war over a Jackson Pollock painting. The play enjoyed a run in Sydney last year, where it was set, but the action has been relocated to New York, and the end reshaped. It is directed by Laurence Boswell and produced by Sonia Friedman and Theatre Royal Bath Productions.

The 'Billy Elliott effect' is causing a revolution in British ballet, as the film has inspired an interest in dance in so many boys. For the first time in its 76 year history, in the next intake at the Royal Ballet school in September, boys will outnumber girls 14 to 12. Other dance schools, including the Royal Academy of Dance, report the same upsurge of interest, and a consequent rise in standard of those applying for admission.

With the umbrella title Hot, the next season at the Bridewell Theatre comprises: Opera della Luna's production of The Ghost Of Ruddigore, which puts the gore back into Gilbert and Sullivan; Patrick Dineen's The Corrupted Angel - 'David Lynch meets Kafka meets Sondheim'; the premiere of First Love & First Blood, adapted from novel by Alex Burton, with music by H C Nitter and Lucas Suarez, and lyrics by G Z Belic, where fantasy and reality intertwine with dangerous results; a new interpretation of Shakespeare's Henry VIII by Phil Wilmott; and The Great Little Opera Company's production of The Kiss And Tell Mozart Show, Simon Butteriss' relocation of The Marriage Of Figaro on a TV chat show. Further information can be found on the Bridewell web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The Royal Shakespeare Company continues to reinforce its position as Britain's most beleaguered national institution after Railtrack. It seems that The Hollow Crown, John Barton's entertainment on the theme of Kingship, starring Derek Jacobi, Ian Richardson, Donald Sinden and Diana Rigg announced last week, is not in fact an RSC production. It is a commercial production by Triumph Entertainment, which will merely visit Stratford as a touring date. The RSC's only participation will be in collecting its split of the box office and the royalties. Meanwhile Judi Dench, a long time member of the company, is the latest major figure to join the barrage of criticism of Adrian Noble's plans to demolish The Royal Shakespeare Theatre and replace it with a series of performance and conference sheds.

The Theatre Investment Fund, by arrangement with The Society Of London Theatre, is holding another Workshop For New Producers from 23rd to 25th May. This is an intensive course for anyone interested in producing or investing in the commercial West End theatre. It will provide detailed information on how to set up, produce and promote commercial productions, for those who have limited knowledge of production, or have not previously been involved. The inclusive cost is 350. For an application form send a stamped addressed envelope to The Theatre Investment Fund, 32 Rose Street, London WC2 9ET. Closing date for applications is 19th May.

Broadway Bound: The Disney Organisation is staging a private workshop of a new musical When You Wish in New York from 13th May to 15th June. Conceived and directed by Tina Landau, it is a compilation show using songs from Disney's film and stage properties. Also workshopping in May is the Australian musical The Boy From Oz, a bio musical about the Australian entertainer and writer Peter Allen. It uses songs by Allen with a book by Martin Sherman. Hugh Jackman will play Allen with a cast which includes Ruthie Henshall.

Paul Nicholas and Ian Ogilvy will star in Snakes & Ladders, a new comedy by Eric Chappell which opens a prospective pre West End tour at Churchill Theatre Bromley on 11th June. Two couples "borrow" the same Spanish villa at the same time, one of whom has mistakenly picked up a bag of dodgy cash. Jeremy Meadows directs and the producer is TEG.

This year's Shakespeare Birthday Festival at Shakespeare's Globe will include the traditional sonnet walks on Sunday 21st April, during which twelve sonneteers will entertain walkers along the routes to Bankside. Participants have a choice of two tours of Tudor London, starting from either Westminster or Shoreditch. Tours leave every 15 minutes from 10.00am to 12.45pm. On the day itself (Tuesday 23rd April) the Spearshaker Talk 'Pleasure, child of the marriage of Cupid and Psyche' hosted by Mark Rylance with guest speakers, will explore the season's theme of metamorphoses. The annual spring blessing of the Globe with water from the Thames will follow this, and then supper on the stage. Further information can be found on the Shakespeare's Globe web site via the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Patrick Stewart is in discussions about appearing in a West End production of a classic play next year; that Jonathan Kent will celebrate his freedom from the Almeida Theatre by staging the Dale Wasserman-Mitch Leigh-Joe Darion musical Man Of La Mancha on Broadway in the autumn; and that following recent 'very productive meetings', the stage musical of Mary Poppins may be edging closer, after many years of negotiation between Disney, who own the screen rights, Cameron Mackintosh, who owns the stage rights, and the estate of PL Travers who wrote the books. The Rumour Machine grinds on.