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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th June 1997

Apropos of Always, The Guardian asks: Is this the worst musical of all time? My response is: you should get out more. Of course it's a prize clunker which has no place in a West End theatre and is a complete waste of money which could have financed four interesting small scale shows, but come on, Which Witch, Metropolis and Fields Of Ambrosia were even worse. It got a few misplaced laughs, but at least the seats weren't shaking like they were in Leonardo. What would you consider The Worst Musical Of All Time? Replies as usual to - all responses to last week's comments about Phillip Schofield have been withheld on legal advice.

When Bill Kenwright's production of Same Time Next Year was abandoned as reported on 7th March, Pygmalion (My Fair Lady - The Play) was whistled up to fill the touring dates. That production, directed by Anne Mitchell, is now transferring to the Albery Theatre on 28th July, with Roy Marsden, Emily Lloyd, Michael Elphick, Moray Watson and Barbara Murray.

The musical The Meteoric Rise And Dramatic Demise Of Edmund Kean, which was seen last year at the King's Head, with David Burt as the great tragedian, is hoping for a West End transfer after a run at the Palace Watford in October. It is a co-production between Watford and Pinnacle Productions. Burt is currently at the Lyceum Theatre, home of another legendary figure Henry Irving, playing Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar in a suitably histrionic style as though he was Abanazer.

More details on Trevor Nunn's first season at the helm of the National Theatre. All the current Associate Directors have resigned in order to establish a fresh start. Nunn's directoral debut will be Christopher Hampton's new version of Ibsen's An Enemy Of The People. Other productions will include: a new version of Peter Pan co-written with John Caird who directs; the first major revival of Arnold Wesker's Chips With Everything directed by Howard Davies; Noel Coward's Private Lives directed by Deborah Warner; Bulgarkov's The Fight and Terry Johnson's new version of The London Cuckolds - Edward Ravenscrofts's drama which was traditionally performed on Lord Mayor's Day. New plays will include Frank McGuinness' Mutabilitie, Kevin Elyot's The Day I Stood Still, Sebastian Barry's Our Lady Of Sligo and Michael Frayn's Copenhagen.

Retracing their path across "The Bourne From Which No Hollingsworth Returns" the musicals Maddie and Jean de Florette live again. Maddie has the spirit of a 1920's Hollywood actress returning to inhabit the body of a 1980's woman. Based on the novel Marion's Wall by Jack Finney (who wrote Invasion Of The Body Snatchers), the music is by Stephen Keeling, book by Shaun McKenna and Steven Dexter, and lyrics by Shaun McKenna. It received good reviews in Salisbury last autumn when it featured Summer Rognlie in the dual roles of body and spirit. As reported earlier it was to have transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre in February but failed to capitalise. A West End opening is now planned for 23rd September but no theatre has been announced. Jean de Florette, inspired by the films Jean de Florette and Manons des Sources, now has Lee Menzies as producer and is looking to open in 1998. But will it feature the famous theme?

The Rumour Machine says: that magician Paul Daniels is replacing Eric Sykes in Moliere's The School For Wives at the Comedy Theatre, but it's just too far fetched for me to mention - even though it is true; and that the Tony awards won by Titanic may not have been entirely above board - the judges were reluctant to reward The Life which features 42nd Street in its tawdry state of a few years ago, because they want to promote a better image, and the producers of Titanic indicated that they would be generous in their appreciation if they won. Of course it is only a rumour. The Rumour Machine grinds on.