News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th February 2009

The Tony Award winning Atlantic Theatre Company New York production of the musical Spring Awakening, book and lyrics by Steven Sater, music by Duncan Sheik, with Aneurin Barnard, Charlotte Wakefield, Iwan Rheon, Sian Thomas and Richard Cordery, directed by Michael Mayer, with choreography by Bill T Jones, currently at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, will transfer to the Novello Theatre, opening on 26th March. The show is adapted from Frank Wedekind's 1891 expressionist play, about the sexual stirrings of young people in a world where parents, ministers and teachers create an atmosphere of shame, silence and ignorance. Although it retains the original period setting and dialogue, it has an aggressive rock score. The show will offer a youth ticket scheme enabling 15 to 19 year olds to buy tickets for 20 at all performances.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the current Menier Chocolate Factory production of the musical A Little Night Music, book by Hugh Wheeler, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, with Hannah Waddingham, Alexander Hanson, Maureen Lipman, Kelly Price, Alistair Robins, Kaisa Hammarlund and Jessie Buckley, directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Lynne Page, will transfer to the Garrick Theatre, opening on 7th April. Adapted from Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film Smiles Of A Summer Night, it is a story of tangled romances in turn of the 20th century Sweden. The producers are Chocolate Factory Productions, Andrew Fell and Nimax Theatres.

Chichester Festival Theatre has confirmed its season running from 11th March to 3rd October. In the Festival Theatre: Noel Coward's Hay Fever, a weekend at the country retreat of a bohemian actress, her writer husband, and their two adult children, all of whom behave extravagantly badly in front of their mystified house guests, with Diana Rigg and Simon Williams, directed by Nikolai Foster; Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, adapted by Anthony Burgess, the classic romance in which an ugly but romantic man woos the woman he loves for his handsome but dumb friend, with Joseph Fiennes, directed by Trevor Nunn; the legendary western musical Oklahoma!, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, music by Richard Rodgers, based on Lynn Riggs's Green Grow The Lilacs, with Michael Xavier, Leila Benn Harris, Craige Els, Natalie Casey and Michael Matus, directed by John Doyle; John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath, the Depression Era tale of a family that leaves its Oklahoma home in search of a new life in California, adapted by Frank Galati, directed by Jonathan Church, a co-production with English Touring Theatre; and Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables, presenting character studies of residents of a seaside hotel, a disgraced politician and his ex-wife, and a retired army officer and a spinster, with Stephanie Cole, directed by Philip Franks.

In the Minerva Theatre: in addition to the previously announced The Last Cigarette, adapted by Simon Gray and Hugh Whitemore from the final volume of Gray's Smoking Diaries, with Felicity Kendal, Nicholas Le Prevost and Jasper Britton, directed by Richard Eyre; the world premieres of Wallenstein, Mike Poulton's adaptation of Friedrich Schiller's Wallenstein trilogy, about the military, political and domestic struggles of the Commander of the Habsburg armies and champion and saviour of the Holy Roman Empire, with Iain Glen, Charlotte Emmerson and Sebastian Armesto, directed by Angus Jackson; Heidi Thomas's The House Of Special Purpose, the story of the Russian Imperial family's period of house arrest after the Russian Revolution, directed by Howard Davies; and Lucy Prebble's Enron, based on the scandal surrounding the fraudulent activities of American energy company, using music, movement and video, directed by Rupert Goold, a co-production with Headlong Theatre and the Royal Court Theatre, where it will transfer, opening on 22nd September.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, last year's Chichester Festival Theatre companion piece productions of Ronald Harwood's Collaboration, about the 1930s writing partnership of the composer and Nazi sympathiser Richard Strauss, and the Jewish writer Stephan Zweig, and Taking Sides, imagining the interrogation of Willhelm Furtwangler, conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra throughout the Nazi era, by an American from the De-Nazification Tribunal in post war Germany, both plays featuring Michael Pennington, David Horovich, Isla Blair, Pip Donaghy, Martin Hutson Melanie Jessop and Sophie Roberts, and directed by Philip Franks, which return to Chichester in April, will transfer to the Duchess Theatre, opening on 27th May, and then playing in repertoire. The producers are Chichester Festival Theatre, Nimax Theatres, and Duncan Weldon.

Austentatious, a backstage musical set during a chaotic production of Pride And Prejudice, music and lyrics by Matt Board and Joe Slabe, book by Matt Board, Jane Caplow, Kate Galvin, Luisa Hinchliff and Joe Slabe, with Cassidy Janson, Simon Lipkin, Richard Meek, Fem Belling, Jenna Boyd, Lucy Mills and Ilan Goodman, directed by Lotte Wakeham, with choreography by Tim Jackson, will receive its British premiere at the Landor Theatre in Clapham on 6th March. The producer is Peter Huntley.

New York TheatreNet: The Broadway League has released its audience demographic analysis of the 2007/2008 season. The average age of the Broadway theatregoer was 41.5 years old, the same as the previous season, but 1.5m tickets were purchased by under 18 year olds, accounting for 12.4% of the total, the highest proportion ever. Online remained the most popular method of purchasing tickets, growing 471% since the 1999/2000 season, and rising from 7% to 40% of total sales. The typical playgoer saw 8 shows, while the musical attendee saw 4. Those who saw 15 or more shows comprised 5% of the audience, and represented 30% of all tickets sold. Of the total of almost 12.3m tickets sold, 31% were bought by residents of New York State, while tourists purchased approximately 65%, split 50:50 between domestic and foreign visitors.

The cabaret venue Pizza On The Park will be relaunched in March as a supper club under the stewardship of American performer and impresario Jeff Harnar, with the umbrella title of The American Songbook In London. Harnar will inaugurate the season himself on 3rd March, and will be followed with two week engagements by Liliane Montevecchi from 10th March, Steve Ross from 24th March, Tony Desare from 7th April, KT Sullivan from 21st April, Paula West from 5th May, Maureen McGovern from 19th May, Andrea Marcovicci from 2nd June and Maude Maggart from 16th June, with Christine Ebsersole, Karen Akers and Alison Jiear to follow at dates to be announced. On Sundays and Mondays Harnar will host The 1959 Broadway Songbook, a musical revue celebrating the shows of that year, with Anna Bergman, Susannah Fellows and Nathan Martin.

Music Theatre Wales's next major production will be For You, music by Michael Berkley, libretto by Ian McEwan, a tale of dark obsession and misplaced passion, set in the world of a contemporary composer, with Alison Cook, Christopher Lemmings, Rachel Nicholls, Alan Opie, Helen Williams and Jeremy Huw Williams, directed by Michael McCarthy, which will open a UK tour at Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon on 29th May.