News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 20th December 2002

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Denise Van Outen will star in Tell Me On A Sunday at the Gielgud Theatre from 8th April, with Matthew Warchus directing. The show is a revised and extended version of Lloyd Webber and Don Black's song cycle about a the emotional travails of British girl living in New York, which was previously seen as one half of the show Song And Dance. The new production includes additional material by writer/performer Jackie Clune, and will be produced by the Really Useful Group and Bill Kenwright.

An American comedy Triple Espresso will receive its UK premiere at the Arts Theatre on 21st January. Created by three solo writer/performers Bill Arnold, Michael Pearce Donley and Bob Stromberg, with director Bill Partlan, it combines magic, songs, parody and physical comedy, to celebrate the 25th anniversary reunion of a fictional trio's ill-fated big break in show business.

Monica Mason is to be the new director of the Royal Ballet, following the resignation of Ross Stretton in September. Mason, who has been acting director for the last three months, served an 11 year apprenticeship as assistant to the previous director Anthony Dowell. She has been involved with the Royal Ballet for over 40 years, since becoming its youngest dancer when she joined at the age of 16 in 1958.

The fabled musical Anyone Can Whistle, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Arthur Laurents, will finally receive its London premiere at the Bridewell Theatre on 8th January. It is nearly 40 years since it was first presented on Broadway, when it had a troubled run of only nine performances, which belies its reputation. This will be first production to use Laurents newly revised book, and will feature Janie Dee, Edward Baker-Duly, Paula Wilcox, Mark Heenehan, Aaron Shirley and James Smillie, directed by Michael Gieleta. It is a surrealistic satire about madness and nonconformity, set in a small bankrupt town, where the Mayoress invents a miracle to improve her cash flow.

West Yorkshire Playhouse is looking to its roots for its spring season, opening on 7th February, with: Paul Webb's Four Nights In Knaresborough, the tragicomic story what happens to the four men who flee Canterbury Cathedral after murdering Thomas a Becket, directed by Gemma Bodinetz; Peter Whelan's The Accrington Pals, about the men who went to fight in the First World War and the women left at home waiting for news, directed by Rebecca Gatward; the premiere of Mick Martin's Once Upon A Time In Wigan, about the heady days of Northern Soul between 1973 and 1981, directed by Paul Sadot; and the world premiere of Sunbeam Terrace by Mark Catley, a contemporary tale of life on the streets of Leeds, directed by Alex Chisholm.

The Theatre Museum is holding My Fair Lady Workshops daily at 12.30pm and 3.00pm until 11th February. They offer children the chance to explore Pygmalion, and how costume can say more about wealth and status than words alone, by looking at Eliza and Alfred Doolittle's rise to the heights of acceptable society and trying on examples of the clothes they would have worn. There are also Make Up Demonstrations before and after these events. Workshops are suitable for ages five and over and booking is essential. Further information can be found on the Theatre Museum web site via the link from the Information section of TheatreNet.

Theatre de Complicite returns to Riverside Studios in Hammersmith with a revised version of Mnemonic, which intertwines two tales of exploration, prophecy and discovery, in its unique blend of physical and visual theatre, from 6th to 18th January. It is conceived and directed by Simon McBurney, who also appears alongside Susan Lynch Hannes Flaschberger, Dan Fredenburgh, Tim Mcmullan, Aurelia Petit and Kostas Philippoglou.

Daniella Nardini is to star in Camille, Neil Bartlett's new version of Alexandre Dumas much adapted story, opening at the Lyric Hammersmith on 11th March, prior to a regional tour. The director is David McVicar. First dramatised by Dumas himself in 1852, Camille is the story of a doomed love affair between a Parisian courtesan and the son of an aristocrat, which Verdi transformed into La Traviata.

The Theatres Trust, which was established to 'promote the better protection of theatres' is celebrating its Silver Jubilee. The Trust's key role is enforced by a Government Order requiring local authorities to consult it in respect of all planning applications affecting land on which there is a theatre - new and old, used or disused. However, its work actually extends far more widely, providing help and advice on theatre planning issues, architecture and design to theatre managements, government agencies and local preservation groups, as well as advising grant making bodies, including the Lottery distributors. The Trust also owns three theatre freeholds, from which it derives much of its income. It aims to ensure that the theatre stock in this country is maintained, celebrated and supported in such a way as to keep theatre buildings as living centres of creativity and performance. Further information can be found on the Theatres Trust web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

The winter season at The Orange Tree Theatre opens on 15th January with the British premiere of Vaclav Havel's play based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera in a new translation by Paul Wilson. Although set in the underworld of 18th century London, where intrigue, deceit, love, sex and crime all flourish, and featuring the same characters, it does not retain the songs. (No show without Punch?) The cast includes Bruce Alexander, Daisy Ashford, Sam Dowson, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Vivien Heilbron, Gabrielle Lloyd, Caitlin Mottram, Rex Obano, Claire Redcliffe, Howard Saddler, Russell Saunders, David Timson, Tim Treloar and Octavia Walters, and the director is Geoffrey Beevers.

Following last week's report that Paul Nicholas is to star in a UK regional tour of the Joseph Stein-Jerry Block-Sheldon Harnick musical Fiddler On The Roof, comes the news that Alfred Molina is to head a Broadway revival of the show next autumn, produced by the Nederlander Organization.

Off Broadway is such an important part of New York theatre that even the Broadway theatre owners are getting in on the act. The Shubert Organization, owner of 17 Broadway theatres, has just opened the Little Shubert Theatre on West 42nd Street. Designed by Hugh Hardy, who oversaw the renovations of the New Victory and New Amsterdam Theatres, it boasts a stadium style 499 seater auditorium, with a full sized proscenium stage and orchestra pit. The building launched with Tommy Tune: White Tie And Tails, a big band backed song and dance revue featuring the legendary choreographer and performer. It is the first ever privately funded Off Broadway theatre to be built from scratch, and the first theatre the Shuberts have built since 1928. The Little Shubert is located between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, near the Playwrights Horizons new home, which opens next month, and several smaller Off Broadway houses. Together, they make up a reborn Theatre Row, replacing the chain of small theatres by that name that once lined the block.

The Rumour Machine says: that the latest Hollywood name seeking the accolade of a London stage appearance is Whoopi Goldberg, who may star in August Wilson's current Broadway hit Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, set in a recording studio as a singer lays down tracks for a new album, at the Haymarket Theatre in a year's time; that the next musical compilation show (a genre which is doing for musical theatre what Jack the Ripper did for East End prostitutes), Ben Elton's dreaded Rod Stewart cut and paste Tonight's The Night, will open at the New London Theatre in April; that Jude Law will play Hamlet in the West End next year, produced by his company Natural Nylon and the Ambassador Theatre Group, who will also back a commercial production of Othello, directed by Laurence Boswell; and that Charlotte Jones is to write the book for Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version of Wilkie Collins The Woman In White - it will be a bit confusing for tourists when it opens if The Woman In Black is still running at the Fortune. The Rumour Machine grinds on.