Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Once again there is a strong showing of British talent in this year's New York Tony Awards nominations. They are led by 7 nominations for Alan Bennett's The History Boys, including Richard Griffiths - Best Actor Play (Leading) and Frances de la Tour - Best Actress Play (Featured), Samuel Barnett - Best Actor Play (Featured), Nicholas Hytner - Best Director Play and Best Play; and 6 nominations for Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd including Michael Cerveris - Best Actor Musical (Leading), Patti LuPone - Best Actress Musical (Leading), Manoel Felciano - Best Actor Musical (Featured), John Doyle - Best Director Musical and Best Musical Revival. Other British interest includes Ralph Fiennes - Best Actor Play (Leading) and Ian McDiarmid - Best Actor Play (Featured) for Brian Friel's Faith Healer; Lynn Redgrave and Kate Burton - Best Actress Play (Leading) for Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife; Jim Dale - Best Actor Musical (Featured) for Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weil's The Threepenny Opera; and Zoe Wanamaker - Best Actress Play (Featured) for Clifford Odets's Awake And Sing!. The big American hitters are the musicals The Drowsy Chaperone with 13 nominations and The Color Purple with 11. The winners will be announced at the 60th Tony Awards ceremony at Radio City Music Hall on 11th June. The full list of nominees and further information about the live webcast of the event can be found on the Tony Awards web site via the link from the Organisations section of New York TheatreNet
The autumn season at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith will include Kafka's Metamorphosis, about a young man who awakes one morning from a horrible dream to find himself transformed into a giant insect, adapted and directed by David Farr and Icelandic aerialist specialist Gisli Orn Gardarsson, from 4th to 28th October; the London premiere of Mark Ravenhill's Pool (No Water), about the fragility of friendship and the jealousy and resentment inspired by success, directed by Scott Graham and Steven Hogget, from 1st to 18th November, a co-production with physical theatre company Frantic Assembly and Theatre Royal Plymouth; and Richard Adams's rabbit saga Watership Down, adapted by Rona Munroe, directed by Melly Still, from 27th November to 13 January.
The 28th Association of British Theatre Technicians Theatre Show takes place at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London on 14th and 15th June. As usual, it will be the complete theatre package, featuring the products of over 120 leading lighting, sound and staging manufacturers, costume, prop and scenery makers, and suppliers of seating and soft furnishings, box office and IT systems, print and publicity, insurance and legal services, training and safety, books and publications, and leading theatre organisations. There will also be a free seminar programme, and the presentation of the ABTT and Stage Management Association Awards. Further information and online registration can be found on the ABTT and SMA web sites via the links from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.
The autumn the season at Sheffield Theatres will include in the Crucible Theatre: Nigel Harman in Harold Pinter's The Caretaker, which explores the relationship between two brothers when a tramp enters their lives, directed by Jamie Lloyd, opening on 17th October; as previously forecast here, Henry Goodman in the musical Fiddler On The Roof, book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerrold Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, about a milkman and his family in a rural Russian village at the turn of the 20th century, directed by Lindsay Posner, opening on 5th December; and Shakespeare's As You Like It, directed by Samuel West, opening on 7th February. Studio Theatre productions will include Samuel West and Timothy West in A Number, Caryl Churchill's play about human cloning, directed by Jonathan Munby, opening on 25th October; and the world premiere of the John Whiting Award winning play How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found, by Fin Kennedy, in which a young executive at breaking point decides to disappear but visits a Southend seafront fortune teller, directed by Ellie Jones, on 27th March.
Brian Friel's Performances, will receive its British premiere at Wilton's Music Hall in Wapping on the 4th July, directed by Lou Stein. Set during a music rehearsal, the play examines how the composer Leos Janacek's romantic obsession with a younger married woman helped to inspire one of his greatest works, Intimate Letters. The company will include the Brodsky Quartet, and following the 70 minute play, they will perform Intimate Letters in its entirety.
Welsh National Opera has announced its autumn season, which opens at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 16th September. It features new productions of Monteverdi's The Return Of Ulysses, with Paul Nilon and Sara Fulgoni, directed by David Alden; and Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina, with Robert Hayward, Tom Randle and Peter Hoare, directed by David Pountney. The season also sees the return of Puccini's La boheme, directed by Goran Jarvefelt; Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, directed by Yannis Kokkos; Bizet's Carmen, directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser; Puccini's Madam Butterfly, directed by Joachim Herz; and Chorus!, a compilation of the most popular choruses from its repertoire, ranging from Verdi's Rigoletto to Sondheim's Sunday In The Park With George, designed to introduce opera to new audiences, featuring around 40 of WNO's chorus and orchestra, directed by David Pountney.
New York TheatreNet: Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's contemporary production of the musical Company, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth, directed by John Doyle, using his trademark actor/musician staging technique, will transfer to Broadway in November. It is a portrayal of five married couples as seen through the eyes of their mutual unmarried friend. The cast comprises Raul Esparza, Barbara Walsh, Keith Buterbaugh, Matt Castle, Robert Cunningham, Angel Desai, Kelly Jeanne Grant, Kristin Huffman, Amy Justman, Heather Laws, Leenya Rideout, Fred Rose, Bruce Sabath and Elizabeth Stanley.
The 44th City Of London Festival, running from 26th June to 13th July, once again has Trading Places as its theme, this year exploring the cultural exchange between London and Tokyo, as well as featuring European music. The festival comprises the usual mixture of lunchtime, rush hour and evening events, with concerts of every kind of music, plus drama and poetry, installations and exhibitions of visual art, film screenings, and architectural walks and talks, in both historic and modern city buildings, outdoors in squares and gardens, and even afloat on HMS President. Among the highlights are Joji Hirota, one of Japan's greatest traditional musicians, with his arrangements of traditional music, and new pieces reflecting Japanese people, place and events; a Peace Sculpture made from 1,000 folded paper cranes in St Paul's Cathedral; Alfred Hitchcock's silent film Blackmail, accompanied by Jonathan Lloyd's new score, performed by the Matrix Ensemble, shown at the Old Bailey; and a ghost walk visiting haunted sites from St Paul's to Bunhill Fields cemetery. Further information can be found on the COLF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.