News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th December 1997

Maggie Smith will be followed at the Haymarket Theatre by an even grander theatrical Dame in Edna: The Spectacle. After a Christmas break, A Delicate Balance will extend its run until 21st March, and Dame Edna Everage will open on 21st April. She will be assisted in her endeavours by director Alan Strachan and producer Lee Menzies.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman have written five new songs for the British premiere of Whistle Down The Wind, at the Aldwych Theatre on 30th June. The script has also been substantially rewritten since the Washington tryout, which was directed by Hal Prince. Based on the novel by Mary Haley Bell, which was filmed by Bryan Forbes, this adaptation relocates the story in the American south in 1959. Lottie Mayor, an alternative Bertrande in Martin Guerre, will play the teenager who believes she has discovered Jesus Christ on the farm where she lives. American Marcus Lovette will play the Christ role, with Dean Colinson as a James Dean like figure. Gale Edwards is now directing.

When Rent finally arrives at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 12th May, our own Rachel McFarlane will be joined by two members of the original New York company. Both won awards for their performances, Anthony Rapp in the storytelling role of Mark, and Wilson Jermaine Heredia as the transvestite Angel. Book, music and lyrics are by Jonathan Larson, and the director is Michael Greif. Only recently dislodged from the hottest ticket on Broadway by The Lion King, demand is still such that a limited number of day tickets are balloted for, one hour before the performance. Will the idea be tried here?

E&B Productions are jumping on the line dancing bandwagon (if that's physically possible) by touring a show called Boot Scootin'. It will be "a new, exciting line dance experience" - which probably translates as Riverdance in stetsons. We'll know in February when it opens in Manchester.

The English title of the new play from Art writer Yasmina Reza is to be The Unexpected Man. It opens at the Barbican Pit on 1st April, and repeating the previously successful formula, is translated by Christopher Hampton and directed by Matthew Warchus. Helen Mirren and Michael Gambon have been approached by RSC and are awaiting a final draft. The story is set on a train, as an author travels from Paris to the Frankfurt Book Fair. Opposite him sits a woman who is his greatest fan, but doesn't know how to tell him. If successful, the production is expected to make a swift transfer to a West End theatre.

The world premiere of Sarah Kane's new play Cleansed will be at the Royal Court (Duke Of York's) Theatre on 6th May. Kane first came to prominence with the controversy surrounding the violence depicted in Blasted, her previous work at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in 1995.

Douglas Carter Beane's Off Broadway comedy As Bees In Honey Drown may come to London next year. The premise is a socialite con artist inveigling a writer to ghost her "memoirs". It is directed by Mark Brokaw and has been playing at the Lucille Lortel since July. Brokaw also directed How I Learned To Drive, an Off Broadway award winning play by Paula Vogel, which tells the story of an incestuous relationship between a teenage girl and her married uncle. John Crowley will direct the British premiere at the Donmar Warehouse from 24th June to 26th July.

And Finally You may have to pinch yourself or remember that it's Christmas not April Fool's Day, but as mentioned here before (jokingly), Jack Dee is joining the next cast in Art from 20th January, with the returning Roger Allam and Mick Ford. Gimmick? What gimmick?