News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th April 2000

Personals, the musical created by the Friends television series writing team of David Crane, Seth Friedman and Marta Kauffman, will open at the Apollo Theatre on 15th June. The show originated in 1975 as a college revue based on the trials and tribulations of six people looking for love via the personal ad columns. The songs are by a distinguished group of writers including Stephen Schwartz, Alan Menken and Michael Skloff (who subsequently wrote the Friends theme). The show had its British premiere at the New End Theatre, Hampstead in 1998. Original cast members Marcus Allen Cooper and Christina Fry are joined by Cameron Blakely, Carmen Cusick, David Malek and Vicki Simon. Dion McHugh directs.

Ambassadors Theatre Group, which this week completed the take over of Associated Capital Theatres to become the number two London theatre chain, has appointed Robert Cogo-Fawcett as director of production programming. The move reinforces the importance which West End theatre owners now put on becoming involved in production, rather than simply being bricks and mortar companies. This may lead to specialist programming and promotion of particular theatres, such as the limited run new writing productions at the New Ambassadors Theatre. Cogo-Fawcett's appointment follows changes at Really Useful Theatres where producer Andre Ptaszynski joined as chief executive two weeks ago.

The autumn season at Hampstead Theatre begins with two premieres: Philip Ridley's Vincent River opens on 15th September, and Shelagh Stephenson's Ancient Lights on 20th November. Prior to this Stephenson's Five Kinds of Silence has its London premiere at the Lyric Hammersmith on 31st May. A dark journey into a family's secluded world of secrets, fantasies and fears, it stars Linda Bassett, Ronald Pickup and is directed by Ian Brown.

Updating previous reports, the reconstruction of the Rose Theatre which was built for the film Shakespeare In Love, is to be incorporated into a development on the site of the Collins Music Hall in Islington. The replica was given to Judi Dench at the end of filming in the hope that it could be reused, and has been in storage ever since. Assuming that planning permission is granted, it will be rebuilt below ground level and covered by a glass courtyard, as the centrepiece of a new semi circular block of 74 flats. The opening is planned for Midsummer's Eve 2002, and there will be 850 seats over three levels. The original Rose was built on Bankside in 1587, 12 years prior to its neighbour the Globe. The Collins Music Hall on the north side of Islington Green was demolished after a fire in 1958. There had been a theatre on the site for over 150 years.

This year's International Course for Music Theatre Performers in association with the Vivian Ellis Foundation for New Musicals will take place at the Royal Academy of Music from 15th to 23rd July. Course tutors will include Julia McKenzie, Ken Russell, Michael Ball, Jean Diamond and Jeremy Sams. Performers wishing to attend the course should request an application form from The Administrator, ICMTP, 17 Wood Lodge Lane, West Wickham, Kent BR4 9LY.

The world premiere of the musical The Full Monty, based on the 1997 film, runs at the Old Globe Playhouse San Diego from 1st June to 2nd July. The book is by Terrence McNally and music and lyrics by Dave Yazbek, who have relocated the action, in which six unemployed steelworkers bare more than their souls to make money, from Sheffield to America. Old Globe artistic director Jack O'Brien directs.

Zinnie Harris Further Than The Furthest Thing will transfer from the Tron Glasgow to the National Theatre on 10th October as part of the Springboards season dedicated to new writing. The play is based on the experiences of the inhabitants of Tristan de Cunha (the tiny island of in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean) who were evacuated en masse to England in 1961 after a volcanic eruption. It won the 1999 Peggy Ramsay Award which enabled the Tron to mount the play, directed by former Artistic Director Irina Brown. The Springboards season begins on 30th May with Tanika Gupta's The Waiting Room. After her death Priya Banerjee roams the earth for three days alongside her Bollywood idol, Dilip Kumar, and realises that she must tidy up certain family matters before she finally departs. It stars Bollywood legend Shabana Azmi, and Indhu Rubasingham directs.

The Royal Court Young Writers Programme is inviting submissions from anyone between 13 and 25 of material of any length, subject or size of cast for consideration in Exposure: Young Writers 2000. Four plays will be chosen to be professionally staged at the Royal Court in the autumn. Further information from the Royal Court web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Prunella Scales is to star in a tour of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, in a new translation by Stephen Mulrine, opening at Malvern's Forum Theatre on 25th April. She is joined by Clare Calbraith, Michael Cronin, Michael Feast, John Quentin and Frank Middlemass. The English Touring Theatre production is directed by Stephen Unwin, whose aim is to fulfil Chekhov's wish that the play should be treated as "a light comedy".

On The Casting Couch: In the Chichester Festival Theatre season, Caroline Catz, Nicholas Le Prevost and Tom Georgeson are featured in The Recruiting Officer, Joss Ackland, Christopher Benjamin, Anna Carteret and Clare Higgins star in Heartbreak House, Serena Evans, Daniel Flynn, Nigel Planer and Issy van Randwyck lead in A Small Family Business, and van Randwyck also appears with Eleanor David and Robert Hands in Arcadia. At the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park, Paul Bradley features in A Midsummer Night's Dream and also joins Jimmy Johnston in Joe Papp's revised version of The Pirates Of Penzance, and Tom Mannion and Nicola Redmond lead in Much Ado About Nothing.

The New Playwrights Trust, the organisation providing information and support for writers, has transformed itself into Writernet, and become a web based operation. While advice will still be available by phone, it recognises that a web based operation will make its services more easily and widely accessible to writers. You can find Writernet via a link from the Writers, Writing & Plays section of TheatreNet.