News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th March 2008

The Royal Opera House has announced its 2008/2009 season. Royal Ballet highlights include: new works by Wayne McGregor in a triple bill with Flemming Flindt's The Lesson and Glen Tetley's Coulentaries; and Alastair Marriott in a triple bill with Fokine's Les Sylphide and The Firebird; plus Deborah MacMillan's new version of Kenneth MacMillan's Isadora, in a double bill with Jerome Robbins's Dancing At A Gathering. Revivals will include Michael Corder's L'invitation au Voyage, George Balanchine's Serenade, Theme And Variations, and Jewels, Will Tuckett's Seven Deadly Sins, Mats Ek's Carmen, and Christopher Weeldon's DGV, plus Swan Lake, Manon, The Nutcracker, La Bayadere and Giselle. The Opera and Ballet companies will combine in new productions of Purcell's Dido And Aeneas and Handel's Galatea, both directed and choreographed by Wayne McGregor.

Royal Opera highlights include: new productions of Francesco Cavalli's La Calisto, directed by David Alden; Gioachino Rossini's Matilda Di Shabran, directed by Mario Martone; Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel, directed by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier; Erich Korngold's Die Tote Stadt, directed by Willy Decker; Richard Wagner's Der fliegender Hollander, directed by Tim Albery; and Alban Berg's Lulu, directed by Christof Loy; plus Benjamin Britten's The Beggar's Opera, directed by Justin Way. Revivals include L'elisir d'amore, Il barbiere di Siviglia, La traviata, Un ballo in maschera and Tosca. The season will open with a 3 day Ignite festival utilising unexpected spaces throughout the building with installations, films, performances and events. Further information can be found on the ROH web site, via the link from London Venues, in the Links section of TheatreNet.

New York TheatreNet: It has now been confirmed that the West End production of the musical Billy Elliot, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, music by Elton John, adapted from the 2000 film, directed by Stephen Daldry, with choreography by Peter Darling, will open on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre, on 16th October. It tells the story of a working class boy in the north of England who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, against the violence of the miner's strike of the 1980s. The producers are Universal Pictures, Working Title, Old Vic Productions and Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Jon Finn and Sally Greene.

The Southbank Centre will stage The Wizard Of Oz, adapted for the stage by John Kane, from the film of L Frank Baum's novels, music and lyrics by Harold Arlen and E Y Harburg, directed by Jude Kelly, at the Royal Festival Hall from 23rd July to 31st August.

This year's Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, titled The Triumph Of Peace, which runs from 15th to 21st May, celebrates the moments in history when peace has prevailed, and composers have turned their talents to joyful operas, carefree cantatas and euphoric Te Deums. Highlights include The English Concert and Carolyn Sampson with Handel's Alexander's Feast and Rameau's Nais; Ensemble San Felice with a semi staged performance of Handel's opera Rodrigo; Ensemble Pierre Robert giving the rarely performed Brossard's Canticum eucharistum pro pace and Lully's Idylle sur la paix; and St. James's Baroque and The Choir of Westminster Abbey with Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks and Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate. Concerts are mainly at St John's Smith Square, plus events at Westminster Abbey, Westminster School and St Margaret's Westminster. Further information can be found on the LFBM web site, the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Voices From The Wings: A Connoisseurs Collection Of Great Theatrical And Showbiz Anecdotes by Ned Sherrin, published by JR Books, really is exactly what it says on the cover. It features literally thousands of anecdotal gems, witty or malicious putdowns, potted biographies and caustic one liners, collected and collated by the master of the revealing anecdote and connoisseur of theatrical lore in all its forms. The book is a very personal choice, saying much about Ned Sherrin's own tastes as well as his subjects' quirky and remarkable lives. This new edition of an already admired work, extensively revised and enlarged, includes much fresh, first hand material. It is entertaining, wide ranging, definitive, and a must for all theatre and showbiz buffs.

Not So Loud Theatre Company is staging the Peking Opera style show Slippery Mountain, by Qi Zhixiang and Yang Xiaoxiong, with a revised score by Joe Townsend, featuring Eriko Shimada, Ming Liu and singers from the London Jing Kun Opera Association, directed by Paddy Cunneen, upstairs at the New World Restaurant in Chinatown, until 13th April. The ancient Chinese fable is the story of a monk on the edge of enlightenment who has to escort his protesting mother to hell for her misdeeds. It is performed in English and Chinese, and the audience is served tea and dim sum.

The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester has announced the second Bruntwood Playwriting Competition, with prizes totalling over 35,000, open to writers of any experience over 18 and resident in the UK. Submissions will be judged by a panel that will include Brenda Blethyn, Michael Sheen, Roger Michell, Roy Williams and Greg Hersov, chaired by Richard Wilson. The winner will receive 15,000, the second prize will be 10,000 and the third prize 7,500, plus a special award of 5,000. The winning play or plays will receive a production by the Royal Exchange Theatre and also be published. Entries must be received by 13th June. Further information and an application form can be found on the RET web site via the link from Regional Theatres in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Players Theatre Company will stage its Victorian music hall programme Late Joys, with Dominic Le Foe as chairman, the Arts Theatre off Charing Cross Road on the afternoons of 2nd and 30th April, and at Docklands Museum on West India Quay on May 26th and July 27th.

Forthcoming productions at Theatre 503 in Battersea will include Ali Taylor's Cotton Wool, a darkly comic tale about two teenage brothers on the Scottish coast who come across a runaway girl, with Victoria Bavister, Joseph Arkley and Owen Whitelaw, directed by Lisa Spirling, opening on 4th April.