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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th June 2008

New York TheatreNet: British talent failed to capitalise on its large number of nominations in this year's Broadway Tony Awards, the exceptions being Boeing-Boeing, which won Best Play Revival and Mark Rylance - Best Actor Play; The Seafarer, which took Jim Norton - Best Actor (Featured) Play; and The 39 Steps, which won Kevin Adams - Best Lighting Design Play and Mic Pool - Best Sound Design Play. The big winners in were South Pacific with 7 awards, including Best Revival Musical, Paulo Szot - Best Actor Musical, and Bartlett Sher - Best Director Musical; August: Osage County with 5, including Best Play, Anna D Shapiro - Best Director Play and Deanna Dunagan - Best Actress Play; and In The Heights with 4, including Best Musical, Best Score and Andy Blankenbuehler - Best Choreography. Best Actress Musical went to Patti LuPone for Gypsy. The full list of winners can be found on the Tony Awards web site, via the link from Organisations in the Links section of New York TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Tony Award winning Steppenwolf Theater Company production of Tracy Letts's August: Osage County, directed by Anna D Shapiro, will be staged at the National Theatre in late November for around 8 weeks. It concerns a family in rural Oklahoma, who are unexpectedly reunited after the disappearance of the father, when secrets are revealed and old enmities reawakened.

Riverdance, the show that went from Eurovision Song Contest filler to world wide dance phenomenon, will open its latest 'positively final' farewell tour, at the Bristol Hippodrome on 26th January.

Forthcoming productions at the Finborough Theatre in Earls Court will include Patrick Hamilton's Hangover Square, set in seedy 1940s Earl's Court, about an alcoholic who becomes infatuated with an actress, with Matthew Flynn, Claire Calbraith, Caroline Faber, Jamie De Courcey, Antony Eden, Jonathan Kemp and Gyuri Sarossy, directed by Gemma Fairlie, opening on 11th July; and a season of world premieres: Anders Lustgarten's Enduring Freedom, about how the loss of their son in the attack on the World Trade Centre provokes a couple to question themselves, their neighbours and their country, directed by Roland Jaquarello, opening on 8th August; James Graham's Sons Of York, set among a community in Hull during the 'winter of discontent' of 1978, directed by Kate Wasserberg, opening on 5th September; Simon Vinnicombe's Cradle Me, in which the members of a family torn apart by grief each find comfort through their troubled teenage neighbour, directed by Lucy Kerbel, opening on 3rd October, produced by Saw Productions; and Dameon Garnett's Follow, a story of two boys from different cities finding out about fatherhood, friendship and growing up fast, opening on 1st November, a co-production with Northern Edge.

On The Casting Couch: Kenneth Branagh will be joined by John Atterbury, Lucy Briers, Linda Broughton, Lorcan Cranitch, Tom Hiddleston, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Gina McKee, Kevin R McNally, Andrea Riseborough, Malcolm Sinclair and James Tucker in Ivanov, opening the Donmar In The West End season at Wyndham's Theatre on 17th September.

Home: A Memoir Of My Early Years by Julie Andrews, recently published by Weidenfeld, is far removed from the usual star autobiography. In describing the beginning of her career as a child performer, joining her parents act at the age of 9, it paints a vivid picture of the harshness of life in the variety theatres of Britain in the years immediately following the Second World War, not to mention her less than idyllic family life, in sometimes painful detail. It goes on to describe the backstage stories of the fairytale ascendency to the leading roles in My Fair Lady and Camelot on Broadway, but it is the disarmingly honest and surprisingly gritty portrait of the poverty and abuse of her early life - never sad or self pitying - that hits home.

The 2008/2009 season at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh will comprise Shakespeare's Macbeth, directed by Lucy Pitman-Wallace, from 12th September, a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse; J M Barrie's Mary Rose, an Edwardian ghost story, directed by Tony Cownie, from 24th October; C S Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, adapted by Glyn Robbins, in which a wardobe is a portal to another world, directed by Mark Thomson, from 28th November; Arthur Miller's The Man Who Had All The Luck, about a man blessed with what appears to be almost supernatural good fortune while those around him fall in defeat, directed by John Dove from 16th January; Charles Ludlam's The Mystery Of Irma Vep, the tour de force Off Broadway comic gothic horror parody two hander, directed by Ian Grieve, from 20th February, a co-production with Perth Theatre; Sam Shepard's Curse Of The Starving Class, a comic dissection of the corruption of American values, directed by Mark Thomson, from 20th March; and Michael Frayn's Copenhagen, in which German nuclear physicist Werner Heisenberg visits Danish colleague Niels Bohr in Nazi occupied Copenhagen to discuss developments in atomic research, directed by Tony Cownie, from 17th April.

Horrid Henry - Live And Horrid!, adapted by John Godber from Francesca Simon's Horrid Henry novels about a contemporary 9 year old 'Just William' character, directed by Hannah Chissick, will open a national tour at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield on 28th August. The producer is Watershed Productions.

Forthcoming productions at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith will include Alexander Galin's Stars In The Morning Sky, translated by Michael Glenny and Cathy Porter, in which four prostitutes confront their lives when they find themselves 'exiled' to a building on the outskirts of a city staging the Olympic Games (based on events in Moscow during the 1980 Olympics), directed by Peter McAllister, from 30th July, produced by Jagged Fence; and Emile Zola's Therese Raquin, translated by Pauline McLynn, in which a young wife, with a sickly husband and forbidding mother in law, falls in love with another man, and together they murder the husband, setting in motion a spiral of guilt, which ruins their lives, directed by Elizabeth Bowe, from 19th August, produced by Montmiral Productions.

The Rumour Machine says: that Sean Mathias will succeed Jonathan Kent as artistic director at the Haymarket Theatre for its second producing season, in which Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart in Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot, directed by Mathias, will feature; that following the success of Monty Python's Spamalot, John Cleese is working on a musical version of his 1988 film A Fish Called Wanda, about four diverse characters who commit a robbery and then double cross each other; and that the surprise Broadway hit Xanadu, a musical based on the film, about a Greek muse, sent to Earth to inspire mortals in California in the 1980s, who falls in love with an artist while helping him realise his dream of opening a roller disco, will make a West End appearance next spring courtesy of producers David Ian and John Gore. The Rumour Machine grinds on.