News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th August 2004

The Society Of London Theatre's seventh Kids Week in the West End is now on, running until 3rd September, 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 over 25 West End shows, with up to two additional children at half price. For the first time, 16-19 year olds can participate with a buy one get one free deal, and the under 5s can also join in with special activities. Over 35 accompanying events are taking place, including backstage tours, workshops, classes, storytelling and 'meet the cast' opportunities. There are also discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages. Latest information can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Jerry Hall stars as Calamity Jane in the world premiere of My Darlin' Janey, by Douglas Squires, directed by Angela Richards, at the King's Head Theatre from 25th October to 28th November. The one woman show is based on a diary of letters written by the Western star to her daughter (by Bill Hickock) who she gave up for adoption. They tell of her life performing in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show both in America and around the world. The producers are Barbara Ferris and Caroline Smith.

Dylan Moran will bring his stand up show Monster II to Wyndham's Theatre from 1st to 13th November. The show has been touring, and made a brief appearance at the Palace Theatre earlier this year.

Broadway Bound: Good Vibrations, a new musical with songs written by Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, in an original book by Richard Dresser, directed and choreographed by John Carrafa, will open on 13th January at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York. It tells the story of 'a group of small town teenagers on a life changing odyssey to the Promised Land: the beaches of Southern California'. Producers include NCJ Productions (Nina Keneally, Cathleen Murphy, Jamie Lightstone) with Michael Watt and Dodger Stage Holding.

The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond has announced its new season, which comprises: Harley Granville Barker's The Marrying Of Ann Leete, about a politician's daughter who refuses to be married off for political gain, with David Antrobus, David Barnaby, Robert Benfield, Sam Dowson, Miranda Foster, Vilma Hollingbery, Richard Howard, David Leonard, Robin Parkinson, Jack Sandle, Eve Shickle, Morgan Symes, David Timson, Joanna Wake, Octavia Walters and Peter Wyatt, directed by Sam Walters; David Cregan's Summer Again, a comedy mixing sex, politics and real estate, with Robert Benfield, Miranda Foster, Vilma Hollingbery, David Leonard, Robin Parkinson, Jack Sandle, Eve Shickle, and Octavia Walters, directed by Joyce Branagh; Stephen Sewell's Myth, Propaganda And Disaster In Nazi Germany And Contemporary America, about an Australian academic on the verge of being given tenure in his American university, who finds himself in a Kafkaesque nightmare; and Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, in a new version by Chris Monks, which relocates the action to a cricket match.

Welsh National Opera has created a production called Chorus!, designed to introduce opera to new audiences, featuring around 40 of WNO's chorus and orchestra, directed by David Pountney. It is a compilation of the most popular choruses from its repertoire, ranging from Bizet's Carmen, Verdi's Rigoletto and Puccini's Madame Butterfly, to Gershwin's Porgy And Bess, Sondheim's Sunday In The Park With George and Bernstein's Candide. The show will open a two month UK tour at the New Theatre Cardiff on 9th October, with low prices in all theatres. WNO's autumn season opens in Cardiff on 11th September with a new production of Richard Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, directed by Neil Armfield, and revivals of Gluck's Iphigenie en Tauride, directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser, and Puccini's Turandot, directed by Christopher Alden.

Despite the Royal Ballet throwing in the towel, it will still be a battle of the tutus over The Nutcracker this Christmas. English National Ballet takes up residence at the Coliseum with its production from 21st December to 8th January, while the Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet returns to the Royal Festival Hall, where ENB used to play (they were originally London Festival Ballet) with their version from 22nd December to 9th January. ENB will also perform Romeo And Juliet from 11th to 15th January, and MSB Don Quixote from 12th to 16th January.

The Book What I Wrote: Eric, Ernie And Me by Eddie Braben, which has just been published by Hodder, is less an autobiography of a comedy writer, than a biography of British comedy. Braben sent his first gag to Charlie Chester, did a routine for Peter Sellers, and spent 12 years writing for Ken Dodd, but he is best known for his work with Morecambe and Wise. Most of what people regard as the classic M&W routines were either entirely Braben's or were developed from his work. For instance, it was his idea to turn Ernie into a playwright, opening up a new chapter in their onstage relationship. This book provides an insight into the creative process, and is peppered with anecdotes - and lots and lots of jokes.

Edinburgh Fringe Report: Two one man shows are already booked to head south, to the Soho Theatre. Thom Pain (based on nothing), by Will Eno, performed by James Urbaniak, and directed by Hal Brooks, will play from 6th to 24th September en route to New York. A darkly comic look at contemporary life and love, it is produced in association with Chantal Arts + Theatre and Naked Angels (NYC). Private Peaceful, from the novel by Michael Morpugo, adapted and directed by Simon Reade, and performed by Paul Chequer, will run from 29th September to 10th October. A young First World War soldier awaiting a firing squad at dawn relives incidents from his short life. It is produced in association with Bristol Old Vic.

The Landor Theatre will stage the UK premiere of the Broadway musical A Class Act, with music and lyrics by Edward Kleban, and book by Linda Kline and Lonny Price, from 6th September to 2nd October. It is both a biography of the composer and lyricist Kleban, and an insight into the creation process of musical theatre, using songs from his shows, the most successful of which was A Chorus Line. The cast comprises Vanessa Cross, Barry Fantoni, Anthony Houghton, Naomi Lewis, Zoe Smith, John Stacey Sarah Waddell and Morgan Williams, directed by Robert McWhir, with choreography by Cathie Carday.

The Rumour Machine says: that Bob Dylan has asked choreographer and director Twyla Tharp to follow Movin' Out, her Tony award winning show featuring the songs of Billy Joel, with a musical built around his songs; and that Caroline O'Connor's one woman show of character studies Bombshells, currently at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, will transfer to the Arts Theatre. The Rumour Machine grinds on.