News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st July 2000

Despite talk of extending, the run of Enigmatic Variations will end on the original date of 29th July. It will be followed at the Savoy Theatre by a new D'Oyly Carte Opera Company production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, directed by Ian Judge, opening a four month run on 20th September. This is the customary very British G&S story in a Japanese setting, which has been rediscovered in a variety of different forms, most successfully as the Black Mikado. D'Oyly Carte's fortunes have been on the rise since the company teamed up with producer Raymond Gubbay, and this production follows their successful season of H.M.S. Pinafore in March. The original production opened at the Savoy in 1885 and ran for almost two years. Once again Opera's coming home.

Another Raymond Gubbay presentation will be the world premiere of a dance production based on Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol playing at the Royal Festival Hall from 21st December to 6th January. Christopher Hampson will choreograph a score comprising selections from Schubert, Mendelssohn, Rossini and other popular classical composers, as well as traditional Christmas carols. It will feature the voice of Eric Sykes as narrator. Presented in association with the South Bank Centre and Tiny Tim Productions.

This year's 53rd Edinburgh Festival Fringe, running from 6th to 28th August, is already a record breaker, with more world premieres than ever before. 275 of the 1,350 productions will be making their debut, amongst almost 17,000 performances staged in 177 venues. Theatre is the largest of the 8 performance categories with 479 productions, and there are 51 musical and operatic events. The main worry for the organisers now is that with just two weeks to go, the much heralded online booking service, which was originally scheduled to go live in mid June, is still being debugged with no official launch date set. Put not your faith in technology.

Another Off Broadway musical, Hedwig And The Angry Inch, is to try its luck in the harsher environment of the West End, opening at the Playhouse Theatre on 19th September. The show has a book by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, and is the comic story of a tortured, obscure, transsexual rock singer as she performs a concert with her band The Angry Inch. The London production will star Michael Cerveris, who played the role in New York (as did - amongst others - former British folk singer Donovan Leitch). The director is Peter Askin, whose original production ran for two years at the Jane Street Theatre and won two Obie Awards.

Anton Rodgers is to play PG Wodehouse, with Angela Thorne as his wife, in Beyond A Joke, a new play by Roger Milner which opens at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford on 30th August. It examines Wodehouse's role in the early months of the Second World War, when he made broadcasts from Germany that were relayed in America and Britain. In a flat in Paris war cabinet envoy Duff Cooper questions Wodehouse about his loyalties. Christopher Morahan directs the Michael Whitehall/English Touring Theatre production which is looking for a West End transfer.

The Soho Theatre is welcoming submissions of full length plays for the Verity Bargate Award, an annual playwriting competition for new writers. First prize is 1500, representing an option for a production by Soho Theatre Company. The deadline for the arrival of scripts is 14th August. Full details from the Soho Theatre web site via the link from the London Theatres section of TheatreNet.

Meanwhile the autumn season at Soho Theatre starts on 11th September with the British premiere of Navy Pier, a co-production with Chicago's Wax Lips Theatre. Abigail Morris directs John Corwin's tale of the love, ambition and treachery amongst a close group of friends. Northern Broadsides production of Euripides Alcestis, in a new version by Ted Hughes, opens in October, followed by a Writers Festival. In November, Soho Theatre and Yellow Earth will co-produce David K.S. Tse's Play to Win, a multi-disciplinary piece aimed at encouraging writing amongst 10 to 14 year-olds. Finally, Out of Joint couples productions of Andrea Dunbar's Rita, Sue And Bob Too, and A State Affair a new play by Robin Soans which examines a similar milieu twenty years later.

Australians Louise McClatchy and Jai Simeone, better known as the duo Supergirly, are to return to the New Ambassadors Theatre with their satire on female pop artists Busting Out. Following dates on the Edinburgh Fringe, where they launched their British career last year, Supergirly will start a fourteen week Sunday night season on 17th September.

The Circus Space, the UK's premier circus skills training centre, is planning to set up a British Cirque du Soleil style performance company, to utilise the talents of the company currently working in the Millennium Dome show when it come to an end. Circus Space trained the 160 performers, developing new performance ideas and techniques. Paul Cockle, former head of the Dome show, will be the producer of the new company. Circus Space has won a 54,000 grant from the European Regional Development Fund to undertake a feasibility study into the idea which would be a wholly commercial venture. Further information from the Circus Space web site via the link from the Training section of TheatreNet.

As exclusively forecast here seven weeks ago, this year's Christmas show at Sadler's Wells is now confirmed to be the Royal Shakespeare Company production of C. S. Lewis The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, which will run from 7th December to 28th January. It is adapted by Adrian Mitchell and directed by Adrian Noble. Recent additions to the autumn season at Sadlers Wells are visits by Irek Mukhamedov, Altynai Asylmuratova & Company, with new works created specially for them by Gillian Lynne and Darshan Singh Bhuller, and Ballet Preljocaj with Romeo And Juliet set in an Eastern European totalitarian state

The Theatre Royal Bath is tenaciously pursuing its bid for the Theatre Royal Plymouth's crown as West Country Hit Factory, with a fourth production which is hopefully West End bound. Rik Mayall is to star in A Family Affair, adapted from Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri's Un Air de Famille, which was filmed in 1996. The play is a comedy which tells the story of a horrendous family get together. Andy de la Tour directs.

And Finally . . . You have to hand it to Jongleurs for constantly reinventing their business. No sooner have they come up with webcasts featuring online heckling, than they are launching (Ho! Ho! Ho!) Stand Up On Water - a three day comedy cruise to Spain departing from Portsmouth in October. There will be comedy workshops by day and acts from the Jongleurs stable performing by night. As they say, they must be having a laugh.