News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th October 2006

Anthony Andrews and Jenny Seagrove will star in W Somerset Maugham's The Letter, with Karen Ascoe, Jason Chan, Andrew Charleson, Fioned Jones, Andrew Joshi, Chris McCalphy, Peter Sandys-Clarke, Liz Sutherland, Jon David Yu and Jamie Zubairi, directed by Alan Strachan, which opens a regional tour at the Theatre Royal Windsor on 14th November. When the wife of a Malaysian rubber planter is witnessed murdering a local playboy, she claims it was self defence, but a mysterious letter comes to light, casting doubt on her integrity. The producer is Bill Kenwright.

The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, a partnership between the writer's estate and producer Bill Kenwright, with exclusive rights to create new touring productions of Christie's original stage plays, has announced its second production. The Unexpected Guest, in which a stranger lost in the fog on a lonely road stumbles onto the scene of a murder, will open a national tour also at the Theatre Royal Windsor on 9th January.

Schwartz Stories, a revue featuring the songs of Stephen Schwartz, devised by Mark Powell and John Cusworth, with Frances Ruffelle, Paul Nicholas, Paul Baker, Alex Beuselinck, Carys Grant and Annalisa Rossi, directed by Joseph C Walsh, will open at the King's Head in Islington on 10th November. The show is based on the idea of three couples attempting to unravel their tangled lives and relationships.

Forced Entertainment, which creates shows through collaboration, improvisation and discussion, will perform The World In Pictures, directed by Tim Etchells, at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, from 7th to 19th November, as part of its current national tour. Nine performers, using meagre resources, tell the epic story of mankind from the ice age to the present day: cave to shopping mall.

The 52nd National Student Drama Festival will take place in Scarborough from 29th March to 4th April, and is open to everyone: colleges, youth theatres, community organisations and universities. Entrants can embrace all styles and themes, from devised work to modern classics, from musical theatre to new writing, and from physical theatre to the great classic drama of the past. During the Festival, the town assumes the mantle of a mini Edinburgh Fringe, as a variety of venues become performance spaces. Further information about the festival and how to participate can be found on the NSDF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Stage To Screen: Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp will star in John Logan's film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical Sweeney Todd, about the demon barber of Fleet Street, whose victims, dispatched by his razor, were made into pies in the shop below, to be directed by Tim Burton, which begins filming early next year.

Raymond Gubbay's 12th arena opera season at the Royal Albert Hall will feature the return of Puccini's Madam Butterfly, in a translation by Amanda Holden, directed by David Freeman, set in a Japanese water garden designed by David Rogers, from 22nd February to 10th March.

Though the season of performances has drawn to a close, Shakespeare's Globe moves indoors to its Education Centre, to continue its programme of staged readings of rarely performed Elizabethan and Restoration plays on Sunday afternoons. These include Thomas Dekker's Old Fortunatus, a mixture of morality play, theatrical spectacle and earthy comedy, about a man and his two sons, one virtuous and one prodigal, on 5th November; William Davenant's The Wits, a tale of two middle aged men who come to London from the country hoping to live on their wits and exploit the emotional susceptibility of the city's women, on 19th November; and Gotthold Lessing's The Jews, a German comedy seeking to promote religious toleration of minority groups, on 3rd December. Each reading is preceded at 12noon by an introduction to its background.

The Society Of London Theatre and the Theatrical Managers Association are inviting further applications for the Rupert Rhymes Bursary. The award of 2,000 is to enable individuals at an early stage of a career in theatre production or administration to undertake a theatre project that falls outside other funding schemes - for example, to develop skills in an international context. The closing date for this round of applications is 31st January. Further information can be found on the Stage One web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

New York TheatreNet: Tim Crouch will perform his play An Oak Tree, at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York, opening on 4th November. The two person play takes place during a performance by a hypnotist, who inadvertently calls up as a volunteer, a man from his past whose daughter he killed in a car accident. The twist is that each night Crouch will be joined by a different actor, who has neither seen nor read the play they are in. Among the guests expected to appear during the show's initial two weeks are F Murray Abraham, Charles Busch, Reed Birney and James Urbaniak. Crouch was inspired to create the piece after seeing a video of the stage hypnotist David Knight in a working men's club in Rawtenstall, where he convinced a group of volunteers that they were monkeys.

The Theatre-Rites show The Thought That Counts, directed by Sue Buckmaster, in collaboration with visual artist Sophia Clist, digital artist Carl Stevenson and composer Jonathan Cooper, will open a national tour at the Warwick Arts Centre on 15th February, which will include Sadler's Wells Lilian Baylis Theatre, from 21st to 24th February. Aimed at 4 to 7 year olds, it explores the idea of genius, using theatre, dance, animated shapes, puppetry and video. The show features Cristina Catalina, Steven Lim, Zoot Lynam, Mohsen Nouri and James Daniel Wilson. It was originally seen as part of the Young Genius season at the Barbican last year. Theatre-Rites has created theatre for children in sites as diverse as a derelict house, an old mill, a cellar and a disused hospital.

Confessions Of A Showman: My Life In The Circus, recently published by Vision Paperbacks, is the unlikely, though highly entertaining, life story of Gerry Cottle (as written down by Helen Small). A stockbroker's son, Cottle ran away to join the circus when he was fifteen, started by cleaning up after the elephants in a small family run show, and when he wasn't chasing girls, progressed to erecting tents and being a very bad clown. Within a few years he had given up performing, married into one of the oldest circus dynasties, and started his own circus. It's a romp of a memoir of the circus supremo, packed with tales of custard pies, cocaine addiction, errant clowns, crocodiles' mouths, beautiful girls and elephant dung. Who could ask for more?

The Rumour Machine says: that Eric Idle is working with his Spamalot partner composer John Du Prez on an adaptation of Handel's The Messiah, to be called Not The Messiah, which will bear a more than passing resemblance to the Monty Python film The Life Of Brian, for a possible premiere in Toronto next June, as well as another musical comedy venture for the stage. The Rumour Machine grinds on.