News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st February 2003

Last year's much feted Haymarket Theatre Leicester production of Rodgers and Hart's On Your Toes, starring former Royal Ballet dancer (and adult Billy Elliot) Adam Cooper in his first acting role, will transfer to the Royal Festival Hall from 7th August to 6th September. It is a backstage musical comedy set in the world of ballet, which includes the iconic dance sequence Slaughter On 10th Avenue, originally choreographed by George Balanchine. At Leicester, where the show was directed by Paul Kerryson, the company also included Kathryn Evans, Linzi Hateley, Irek Mukhamedov and Marguerite Porter, but other London casting has yet to be announced. It will be presented by Raymond Gubbay.

The new brooms at Chichester Festival Theatre - Martin Duncan, Ruth Mackenzie and Stephen Pimlott - have announced their first season, which runs from 26th April to 4th October. Their big ideas are a linking theme of Venice, and a return to a resident company performing in repertory for the first time in 20 years. The Festival Theatre productions are: Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers, directed by Martin Duncan; Desmond Barrit, Niamh Cusack, Philip Quast and Ed Stoppard in The Merchant Of Venice, directed by Gale Edwards; a new adaptation of Charles Kingsley's The Water Babies, about a boy chimney sweep who escapes into an underwater world, with book by Gary Yershon, and music and lyrics by Jason Carr, directed by Jeremy Sams; and Philip Quast and Ed Stoppard in Chekhov's The Seagull, in a new version by Phyllis Nagy, directed by Steven Pimlott.

The Minerva Theatre productions, which complement the main house shows, are: Geoffrey Streatfield in Gotthold Lessing's Nathan The Wise, a tale of religious tolerance is set during the Crusades in Jerusalem, directed by Steven Pimlott; the world premiere of Holes In The Skin, by Robert Holman, the story of a young girl plunged into a world of drugs and violence, directed by Simon Usher; the UK premiere of a new translation by Jeremy Sams of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's version of Carlo Goldoni's comedy The Coffee House, set during Carnival in Venice, directed by Italian Simona Gonella; and I Caught My Death In Venice a new comedy written and performed by the Brothers Marquez, directed by Martin Duncan.

Elaine Paige, Nicholas Le Provost and David Warner are to star in George Feydeau's Where There's A Will, in a new version by Nicki Frei, directed by Peter Hall, starting a short tour at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford on 28th April, with a West End opening scheduled for late June.

The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust has announced a new 30,000 award for emerging practitioners in experimental theatre. The award will go to the creative artist or group that submits a new bold, innovative and challenging project of outstanding merit, to help realise a fully resourced professional production. The judging panel will include Ian Spink, Mark Ravenhill and Jon Fawcett. The winner will have the opportunity to perform a three week run at Riverside Studios in November, plus support in financial management, contracting, press and publicity, and assistance in the long term strategic development of their work. Applications must be submitted by 15th March, and the winner will be announced in May. Further information can be found on the OSBTT web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Brits On Broadway: Tom Stoppard's Russian trilogy The Coast Of Utopia will receive its American premiere at Lincoln Center in the spring of 2005, directed by Jack O'Brien.

Kenneth Branagh is to star in David Mamet's Edmond, directed by Edward Hall, at the National Theatre in July. This will be Branagh's debut at the National, and his first appearance on the London stage for 11 years. The typically hard hitting Mamet play is the story of a successful businessman's descent into hell, as he leaves his family on the advice of a fortune teller, and is mugged, robbed and imprisoned for murder.

The spring season at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester includes Harold Brighouse's Hobson's Choice starring Trevor Peacock, Joanna Riding and John Thompson, in the tale of a cantankerous Victorian boot shop owner in Salford and his three strong willed daughters, directed by Braham Murray, from 17th May to 28th June; and the world premiere of a new take on an classic character with Sherlock Holmes In Trouble, written by and starring Emil Wolk and Mark Long, and directed by Wolk, from 5th July to 9th August.

Following the Laurence Olivier Awards television coverage being chopped down to one hour on BBC2 (albeit on Saturday night) comes news that the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theater Wing, who jointly organise Broadway's Tony Awards, has appointed a Tony Overhaul Committee to find ways of revamping the presentation ceremony in order to increase its television impact. The 57th Tony Awards nominations will be announced 5th May, and the presentation ceremony will be held on 8th June.

The Rumour Machine says: that the falling out between former Adventures in Motion Pictures partners, choreographer Matthew Bourne and producer Katharine Dore, has been exacerbated by a wrangle over the rights to Bourne's new show Nutcracker!, which may mean that the AMP productions Swan Lake, Cinderella and The Car Man will not be seen again; that Richard Eyre may direct the long awaited Cameron Mackintosh-Disney stage musical of Mary Poppins, now pencilled for sometime next year; and that in view of the estimated 5m taken at the box office (despite the poor reviews) the Double Dame extravaganza The Breath Of Life, with Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, will transfer to Broadway some time next season. The Rumour Machine grinds on.