News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st July 2006

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the ninth Kids Week In The West End, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience, with thousands of free tickets and special events. Once again this year it has double the fun, as it is extended to a fortnight, running from 18th August to 1st September. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to over 30 West End shows, with up to two additional children at half price. Over 35 accompanying events will be taking place during the two weeks, including backstage tours, workshops, classes, storytelling and 'meet the cast' opportunities, plus special activities the under 5s. There are also freebies and discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages. Booking opens at 12noon on 25th July. Further information can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link opposite.

New York TheatreNet: The autumn season at the Public Theater will include Kevin Kline in King Lear, directed by James Lapine, plus a series of premieres: Wrecks, written and directed by Neil LaBute, with Ed Harris as a newly bereaved husband in a story of love, family and marriage; Julie Cho's Durango, about two brothers' struggle to escape the shadow of their immigrant Korean father, directed by Chay Yew; Emergence-See!, written and performed by Daniel Beaty, telling of slave ship's sudden appearance in contemporary New York Harbour though 'slam poetry and song'; the musical Passing Strange, with book and lyrics by Stew, and music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald, charting the journey of a young black bohemian searching for himself, directed by Annie Dorsen; and Craig Lucas's The Singing Forest, interweaving the stories of three generations of one family, from New York in 2000 to post Second World War Paris to Vienna in the 1930s, directed by Bartlett Sher.

The National Theatre is collaborating with the theatre company Punchdrunk on a site specific promenade production of Faust, an interpretation of Goethe's tale of a man who sells his soul to the devil in return for knowledge of material things, to be staged in a 150,000sq ft abandoned archive in Wapping Lane near Tower Bridge, from 17th October to 18th November. The show, which will include a large cast and live music, will last three hours, in two 90 minute cycles, and the audience will be able to wander through the building watching whichever elements of the performance take their fancy.

Oxford based Creation Theatre Company divides its time between performing Shakespeare seasons indoors at the BMW car factory in Cowley in winter, and outdoors in the summer. It is currently presenting The Merchant Of Venice, with Pepe Balderrma, Kezia Burrows, Antony Eden, Amanda Haberland, Gavin Malloy, Simon Poole, Natasha Pring and Paul Shelford, at Oxford Castle until 19th August; and Macbeth, and Robin Hood, with Seamus Allen, Scott Brooksbank, Angus Brown, Richard Evans, Jennifer Matter, Eleanor Montgomery, Tom Peters and Martin Priongs, at Headington Hill Park, until 9 September. Further information can be found on the CTC web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, John Doyle will direct Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, in his trademark actor/musician style, playing at Wilton's Music Hall in Wapping, from 19th September to 14th October. The company will comprise Matthew Kelly, Jonathan Broadbent, Jess Murphy, Eamonn O'Dwyer, Sebastian Bates, Sam Kenyon, Philip Battley, Harry Napier, Michael Howcroft, Susannah Van Den Berg, Elisa Boyd, Sioned Saunders, Michael George Moore, Benedict James and Juliet Leighton-Jones. The play explores the relationship between the Austrian Court composer Antonio Salieri and his young rival Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The producer is Adam Spiegel.

Auction house Cooper Owen is holding a Music Legends sale at Abbey Road Studios on 28th July at 5pm. Among the lots are original images by Graham Spenser of mamy 1960s singers and groups including Animals, Cilla Black, Dakotas, Dusty Springfield, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Rolling Stones, Supremes, Van Morrison, Who, Yardbirds and Zombies; rare acetates of Beatles, Nina Simone and Simon and Garfunkel; gold records by Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix and Supertramp, and posters, tickets, programmes and photographs, some signed, plus Paul McCartney's first guitar, Lulu's wedding dress and Frank Zappa's sheepskin coat. The catalogue can be viewed on the CO web site, which can be found via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Arcola Theatre in Dalston is staging a Viva Lorca Festival comprising works by Federico Garcia Lorca, including Mariana Pineda, translated by Gwynne Edwards, based on the folk tale of a young rebel who defied an oppressive dictator, with Pandora Colin, Patrick Lynch, Ben Nathan, Rachel Edwards, Ruth Posner, Geoff Breton, Leila Birch, Daniel Kanaber, Jonathan Dunstan and Rachel Atkins, directed by Max Key, opening on 24th July; the British premiere of Frank McGuinness's version of Yerma, about a woman desperate for a child battling with sexual temptation and the lure of a sorceress, with Kathryn Hunter, Vincenzo Nicoli, Laura Richmond and Harriette Ashcroft, directed by Helena Kaut-Howson, opening on 23rd August; and When Five Years Pass, translated by Gwynne Edwards, in which a man young man arrives to collect the bride he has waited five years to marry, only to find she is in love with someone, directed by Charlotte Westenra, opening on 31st August. There will be an accompanying programme of poetry, play readings, film, music and dance.

On The Casting Couch: Frances Connor, Will Keen, Anna Carteret, Laura Elphinstone, Robert Portal and Benjamin Whitrow will feature in Tom And Viv, opening at the Almeida Theatre on 12th September; and Alan Cumming will be joined by Richard Bremmer, Hugh Ross, Kevin Trainor, Benjamin Wilkin, Ricky Champ, Charles Mayer, Matthew Spencer and Laurence Spellman in Bent, opening at Trafalgar Studios 1 on 5th October.

Charlotte Randle, Adam James, Hilton McRae, Ruth Everett, Martin Turner, Alan Westaway and Susannah Wise star in Rabbit, written and directed by Nina Raine, about the relationship between a young woman and her dying father, which will open at the Trafalgar Studios 2 on 7th September. The production played at the Old Red Lion in Islington earlier this year.

New York TheatreNet: The New Group's autumn season will open in September with Cynthia Nixon in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, adapted by Jay Presson Allen from the novel by Muriel Spark, about the idiosyncratic 1930s Edinburgh school teacher, with Emily Bicks, Ritchie Coster, Lisa Emery, Betsy Hogg, Zoe Kazan, Caroline Lagerfelt, John Pankow, Caity Quinn, Matthew Rauch, Sarah Steele and Halley Wegryn Gross, directed by Scott Elliott.

Feelgood Theatre is performing King Arthur, with Richard Ashton, Paul David-Gough, Eve Robertson, Ben Southerland, Sarah Stanley and Dan Willis, directed by Caroline Clegg, with fight direction by Kate Waters, in a promenade production around Heaton Park in Manchester until 6th August. The all action show mixes sword fights, jousting, magic and medieval song and dance to tell the legendary story of Britain's first King. The show is accompanied by the Creativity Tent, where people can meet the company and take part in skills workshops. Feelgood's production of Stephen MacDonald's Not About Heroes, about the friendship between Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen during the First World War, also directed by Caroline Clegg, will open at Trafalgar Studios 2 in November. Further information can be found on the Feelgood web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Royal Shakespeare Company will transfer its Stratford productions of Antony And Cleopatra, with Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walter, The Tempest, also with Stewart, and Much Ado About Nothing with Tanmsin Grieg and Joseph Milson to London from November; that Evita with Elena Roger will be Broadway bound in the autumn of next year; and that Ralph Fiennes will play Oedipus, directed by Jonathan Kent, at the National Theatre in 2008. The Rumour Machine grinds on.