News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st March 2003

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Joan Plowright will return to the West End in Franco Zeffirelli's production of a Luigi Pirandello play, newly retitled Absolutely! (Perhaps), at the Wyndham's Theatre on 20th May. Plowright will be joined by Oliver Ford Davies in the absurdist comedy involving an actress, a duel and typically Pirandellian plays within plays. It is presented by the Ambassador Theatre Group.

Tate And Egg Live is a series of specially commissioned events running at Tate Modern until September, with the aim of uniting visual arts with theatre, music, film and dance. Death And Resurrection, will begin in St Paul's Cathedral with a performance of three Bach Cantatas by the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. Following this the audience will be led by conductor and choir across the Millennium Bridge to Tate Modern, where there will be a performance of Steve Martland's Street Songs, accompanied by four short animated films specially created by The Brothers Quay. In Living Costs, DV8 Physical Theatre director Lloyd Newson and ten international performers will take the audience on a one hour promenade through the building, starting in the Turbine Hall and winding up through the floors to the seventh level, which will combine dance, circus, physical theatre and visual spectacle with a specially created soundtrack and videotronic projection. Further information can be found on the Tate And Egg web site via the link from the festivals section of TheatreNet.

When the 25th anniversary revival of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Partytransfers to the Whitehall Theatre on 9th April, Elizabeth Berrington as the awful hostess Beverley, will be joined by a new set of guests: Philip Bird, Amelda Brown, Elisabeth Chadwick and Jake Wood. The play is presented by Theatre Royal Bath Productions, Hampstead Theatre and Lee Dean, in association with the Ambassador Theatre Group.

Broadway Bound Musicals: A stage adaptation of the film Urban Cowboy by Aaron Latham and Phillip Oesterman, using mostly existing country songs, directed by Lonny Price and choreographed by Melinda Roy opens at the Broadhurst Theatre on 27th March; The Look Of Love: The Songs Of Burt Bacharach And Hal David, a Roundabout Theatre production, directed by Scot Ellis and choreographed by Ann Reinking, opens at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on 4th May. In the pipeline are: a stage adaptation of the 1951 film An American In Paris, for which Wendy Wasserstein is writing a new book to contain the Gershwyn score, with Christopher Wheeldon choreographing; a contemporary reworking of Frederick Wedekind's Spring Awakening, the examination of 19th century society's attitude to puberty, with a rock score by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Slater; and John Kander, Fred Ebb and Terence McNally's much delayed adaptation of Friedrich Durrenmatt's The Visit, in which a woman betrayed as a young girl returns to her home town as a millionaire, and attempts to bribe the locals to kill the man who betrayed her.

Stage Managers Reunited! The Stage Management Association is searching for the 18 founder members of the organisation with whom it has lost touch, as it prepares to celebrate its Golden Jubilee. Will anyone with any information on the whereabouts of the class of 1953 the please contact the SMA. Also, nominations are being sought for this year's SMA Award, which can be for an individual or a team, and for either a single outstanding feat or a lifetime achievement. The closing date is the 31st March. There is a link to the SMA web site from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Following its performances at Middle Temple Hall last year, marking the 400th anniversary of the first recorded performance of Twelfth Night, Shakespeare's Globe company is making a return visit to commemorate the fourth centenary of the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Richard II starring Mark Rylance will play a preview season from 16th April to 4th May (including Shakespeare's birthday on 23rd April) prior to the opening at Shakespeare's Globe. It will be an 'original practices' production, with an all male cast, remaining faithful to 17th century period clothing, setting and music, directed by Tim Carrol. Middle Temple Hall, completed in 1573, is one of the few surviving venues where Shakespeare's company is actually known to have played.

This year's season at Glyndebourne, running from 19th May to 31st August, will include three new productions: Wagner's Tristan und Isolde directed by Nikolaus Lehnhoff - the first Wagner production at Glyndebourne - with Robert Gambill and Nina Stemme also making their debuts, conducted by Jiri Belohlavek; Mozart's Idomineo, directed by Peter Sellars, with Philip Langridge, Christiane Oelze, Magdalena Kozena and Anne Schwanewilms, conducted by Simon Rattle, with Anish Kapoor creating his first set design for opera; and the first production at Glyndebourne of Strauss's Die Fledermaus, directed by Stephen Lawless, with Thomas Allen, Par Lindskog and Hakan Hagegard, conducted by Music Director Vladimir Jurowski.

There will be three revivals: Graham Vick's production of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro; David McVicar's GTO production of Puccini's La boheme; and Peter Sellars contemporary production of Handel's Theodora There is a programme of early evening talks about the entire repertory at The Inner Temple in London prior to the start of the season, study mornings at Glyndebourne giving historical background and musical analysis of the three new productions, and pre performance talks on each of the productions. Further information can be found on the Glyndebourne web site via the link from the Regional Theatres section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Play Without Words, Matthew Bourne's dance piece based on Robert Maugham's The Servant, which was the hit of last year's Transformation season, will return to the National Theatre at Christmas; that the Royal Shakespeare Company's ensemble productions of The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Coriolanus, from the winter season at the Swan in Stratford, will play in repertoire at the Old Vic Theatre in June, produced by Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott; and that just when you thought it couldn't get worse, Ben Elton may direct his latest back catalogue fest Tonight's The Night, cobbled together from Rod Stewart's dust bin, at the Victoria Palace in the autumn - shouldn't the Save London's Theatres Campaign be trying to stop this? The Rumour Machine grinds on.