News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th August 2000

The stampede from Hollywood to Shaftesbury Avenue continues, with Daryl Hannah in George Axelrod's summer in the city comedy The Seven Year Itch opening on 9th October at the Queens Theatre. The play tells what happens when a middle-aged man whose wife and family are on holiday, meets a girl who has just moved into the apartment upstairs. It was famously filmed in 1955 with Marilyn Monroe as the girl, when a scene was added where her white dress is lifted up by a gust of air as she stands over a subway grating. This may mark the turning point of screen to stage mania, as neither Hannah nor director Michael Radford have worked in the theatre before. The producer is Laurence Myers.

Fire Crossing Water, a multi-arts festival featuring the work of Tan Dun, will run at the Barbican Centre from 28th September to 1st October. Each performance will include a major premiere contrasted with works by other composers. Highlights include Crouching Tiger, a music and video concerto; Water Passion After St Matthew; and The Gate, a multimedia work based on the theme of fatal love. There is an accompanying season of films by Ang Lee, free performances, concerts and workshops, plus a talks programme with many of the contributors directed by Peter Sellars. Further information from the Barbican Centre web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The 10th Ian Charleson Awards, "for outstanding performances anywhere in the UK by actors under 30 in a classical role" have been presented at the National Theatre. Rupert Penry Jones won the 5000 first prize for the title role in the RSC production of Don Carlos. Gabrielle Jourdon took the 2000 second prize for Jessica in The Merchant Of Venice at the National. Megan Dodds was awarded the 500 third prize for Ophelia in the Young Vic's Hamlet.

Fame is to return to London for a fourth run, opening at the Victoria Palace (for the second time) on 3rd October. Inspired by Alan Parker's film and the subsequent television series, the musical is written by Jacques Levy and Steven Margoshes. Set in New York's High School for the Performing Arts, it features the "next generation" of students in their bids for stardom. The Runar Borge production has been touring between West End seasons.

The 11th British Festival Of Visual Theatre runs from 29th September to 21st October. It presents new work from cutting edge companies across the performing arts spectrum who explore what theatre is through dance, text based theatre, design, improvisation and puppetry. Performances take place at the Battersea Arts Centre, Young Vic Studio and Lion & Unicorn Pub Theatre, with cabaret at the People Show studios and site specific work by Shunt, a performance collective. The BAC programme includes the return of Primitive Science with Theatre Dream, which was part of the Playing In The Dark season in 1998. The Young Vic features productions of Aeschylus Prometheus Bound, Henrik Ibsen's Brand and Eugene Ionesco's Journeys Among The Dead which will consider visual theatre's relationship to classic texts. Full details from the individual venues taking part.

It seems that Scotland will finally get its own National Theatre to stand alongside Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet (though they have been reduced to clinging on to each other for support). The ground has been prepared by a Federation of Scottish Theatre proposal for a commissioning company to operate at a minimum annual subsidy of 2.8m, and a Scottish Arts Council request for a three year funding boost of 13m - almost doubling its budget. The Scottish Culture minister Sam Galbraith supports the idea, but it is debatable whether he will make a financial commitment of that sort of order. The FST proposal envisages a company producing six to eight shows a year, hopefully including international Scottish names, which would tour both Scotland and internationally. It would also provide funds to enhance productions staged by existing theatres. The Royal Lyceum Edinburgh has always been seen as the natural home base for a National Theatre. Kenny Ireland, who has been artistic director at the Lyceum since 1993, is expected to announce his intention to relinquish the post soon.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton's new musical The Beautiful Game, opening at the Cambridge Theatre on 26th September, will be a relatively low key affair casting and creative team wise. It features Ben Goddard, Jamie Golding, Frank Grimes, Dale Meeks, Michael Shaeffer, David Shannon, Alex Sharpe, Hannah Waddingham and Josie Walker. The director is Robert Carsen and Meryl Tankard is the choreographer. Set in Belfast in the late 1960's it centres on the members of a football team who come from both religious communities. And they said Sweeney Todd was a terrible idea for a musical.

Nottingham Playhouse is to present the world premiere of Because It's There by Jonathan Holloway from 7th to 25th November. Using original photographs and climbing live on stage, it aims to shed light on the mystery of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine's 1924 expedition to be the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest, during which both men disappeared. Giles Croft directs.

Eating Raoul, Paul Bartel's adaptation of his film, with music by Jed Feuer and lyrics by Boyd Graham, receives its UK premiere at the Bridewell Theatre from 30th August to 30th September. The Off Broadway show from 1992 styles itself "part Rocky Horror Show, part Sweeney Todd". A couple wants to leave Los Angeles and set up a restaurant in the country but are unable to raise the deposit by the usual methods. They resort to offering specialist services to the sexually experimental, knocking their clients out with a frying pan and robbing them. The production is directed by Rick Jacobs, produced by Used And Abused Productions and sponsored by Skin Two. This will be followed at the Bridewell by Honor Blackman and Donald Pickering in Jean Anoulh's Mademoiselle Colombe from 3rd October to 5th November. The play is translated by Jeremy Sams, directed by Graeme Messer and produced by the London Stage Company.

The Rumour Machine says: that Nicole Kidman will return to the London stage in Henrik Ibsen's The Lady From The Sea at the National Theatre directed Trevor Nunn; that the Playhouse Theatre, which has been on the market for over two years, is finally under offer; and that Jenny Seagrove and Christopher Cazenove are to star in a stage version of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter in the West End this winter. The Rumour Machine grinds on.