News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th July 2001

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the fourth Kids Week in the West End from 24th to 31st August, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience with thousands of free tickets and special events. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to 28 West End shows, from All You Need Is Love! to The Woman In Black, with up to two additional children at half price. Over 35 accompanying events will be taking place during the week, including backstage tours, workshops, storytelling and "meet the cast" opportunities. There are also discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages. Booking is now open. Full details can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Penelope Keith and Una Stubbs are to star in the world premiere of a stage adaptation of Noel Coward's short story Star Quality, which opens a prospective pre London tour at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford from 20th August to 1st September. The caustic comedy presents a behind the scenes look at theatreland, as personalities and egos clash during rehearsals for a West End production of a new work. The play, which also features Russell Boulter, Nick Fletcher, Nick Waring and Marjorie Yates, is adapted and directed by Christopher Luscombe.

The National Theatre production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Susan Stroman, will finally reach Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre on 23rd February, presented by Cameron Mackintosh. There is no news about the casting, arguments over which prevented its previous transfer.

The Theatre Museum is currently hosting two dance exhibitions that run until 28th October. 75 Years Of Creativity: A Rambert Dance Company Retrospective charts the creative highlights of the company that was founded by Marie Rambert in the classical tradition in 1926, but moved to a modern non-narrative repertoire in the 1960s. It draws on artefacts, designs and other materials from both the Rambert archive and the museum's own collection. Margot Fonteyn Costumes celebrates the museum's acquisition of five of the ballerina's costumes, in which she danced the roles of Aurora, Odile, Chloe and Juliet, which are on display for the first time, together with photographs of her in other roles.

Rebecca Gilman's play Boy Gets Girl will premiere at the Royal Court Theatre on 1st November, staring Katrin Cartlidge, and directed by Ian Rickson. It tells the story of a New York magazine journalist whose friends set her up on a blind date that turns into an obsession.

The Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet and Orchestra will make their London debut in a Christmas season at the Royal Festival Hall, with two ballets set to the music of Tchaikovsky by Vladimir Bourmeister. The Snow Maiden plays from 20th December to 2nd January and Swam Lake from 4th to 12th January. Raymond Gubbay and Columbia Artists Management present the season.

The Royal Festival Hall will celebrate the last Bank Holiday of the year on 27th August with a rather different dance event, The Ballroom Blitz featuring Peggy Spencer. The doyen of ballroom dance is to host a 12 hour marathon, starting at 11.00am with a Coffee Dance, and moving expertly through Star Cabarets by Britain's best formation teams and couples, a Tea Dance, and Dance Workshops with an opportunity to learn the steps, before a final crescendo with an all dancing evening Blitz to the music of the Ross Mitchell Band.

La Scala Theatre Milan is embarking on a major project to digitise its 200 year archive, in order to make the contents available online to opera lovers around the world. When completed, it will offer more than a million pages of musical scores, plus designs, costumes, photographs, and audio and video recordings, giving enthusiasts the opportunity to trace the evolution of a particular opera production over the last five decades. The archive includes 60,000 costumes, 50,000 hours of audio tape, and 3000 scores. There is a link to the La Scala web site from the International Venues section of TheatreNet.

Maureen Lipman is to star in her daughter Amy Rosenthal's play Sitting Pretty, which opens a regional tour at the Nuffield Southampton on 6th September. Lipman made a mercy dash to join an Off Broadway production of the play for its final five performances last March, replacing Tanny McDonald, who was unable to complete the Hypothetical Theatre Company's run. It tells the story of an art gallery guide, whose Rubenesque sister's life is transformed, when she is made redundant and becomes a nude model for a figurative art class. Aviva Jane Carlin, who co-starred in New York, reprises her role of the sister in the new production, which is directed by John Doyle.

Trevor Griffiths play The Comedians opens a prospective pre West End tour at the Northcott Exeter in October. It tells the story of a group of people attending evening classes in stand up comedy technique. Actor/comedians John and Martin Marquez will be playing brothers in the co-production by Oxford Stage Company and ACT Productions, which will be directed by Sean Holmes.

The Rumour Machine says: that classic '50s and '60s songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are working on a stage musical about Oscar Wilde; that the producers of David Auburn's Tony Award winning play Proof (about a mathematician who fears she has inherited her father's mental illness) are looking for a film name to head the cast for a West End transfer, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Rachel Weisz and Kate Winslet on their wish list; and that a new production of the musical Footloose, based on the 1984 film, which ran for two years on Broadway, will arrive in London in the spring, directed by Arlene Phillips. The Rumour Machine grinds on.