News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st August 2008

The National Theatre has confirmed the productions in its winter season. In the Olivier: Tom Stoppard and Andre Previn's play for actors and orchestra Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, in which a dissident is locked up in an asylum with a real lunatic who thinks he is surrounded by an orchestra, directed by Felix Barrett and Tom Morris, a co-production with Southbank Sinfonia, will open on 26th January. In the Lyttelton: the Tony Award winning Steppenwolf Theater Company production of Tracy Letts's August: Osage County, concerning a family in rural Oklahoma, who are unexpectedly reunited after the disappearance of the father, when secrets are revealed and old enmities reawakened, with some members of the original Chicago and Broadway cast, directed by Anna D Shapiro, will open on 26th November.

In the Cottesloe: the premiere of David Hare's Gethsemane, about political fundraising and how business, media and politics are now intertwined to nobody's advantage, with Anthony Calf, Tamsin Greig, Jessica Raine, Stanley Townsend and Nicola Walker, directed by Howard Davies, will open on 11th November; and the premiere of Samuel Adamson's Mrs Affleck, which relocates the story of Ibsen's Little Eyolf to Manchester in the 1950s, where a couple's reunion is overshadowed by the presence of the husband's half sister, with Claire Skinner, Naomi Frederick and Angus Wright, directed by Marianne Elliott, will open on 27th January.

The Girl With A Pearl Earring, David Joss Buckley's stage adaptation of Tracy Chevalier's historical novel, with Adrian Dunbar, Kimberley Nixon, Sara Kestelman, Niall Buggy, Lesley Vickerage, Maggie Service, Jonathan Bailey and Flora Spencer-Longhurst, directed by Joe Dowling, will open at the Haymarket Theatre on 29th September. The novel provides a fictional backstory to 17th century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer's painting of the same name. The producers are Brian Eastman and Andrew Welch.

The Open Rehearsal scheme, which gives the public a chance to go behind the scenes and sample London's music, theatre, dance and opera, is back for a third year, running from 26th to 28th September. Over 300 mostly free events and activities will include backstage tours of the Lyric Hammersmith, National and Royal Court theatres, BBC Television Centre and Broadcasting House, and Curzon Soho cinema; open rehearsals with the Royal Ballet, Royal Opera, English National Opera, English National Ballet, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, the Young Vic, and St John's Smith Square; the chance to see the stage being set up for a performance at the National Theatre; and workshops with the BBC Singers and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, plus an introduction to playwriting at the Royal Court Theatre. Further information can be found on the OR web site, via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Physical theatre company Frantic Assembly will stage its first Shakespeare production, a contemporary take on Othello, seen as a black bouncer in a white northern town, adapted and directed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett, with Jimmy Akingbola, Claire-Louise Cordwell, Leila Crerar and Eddie Kay, opening a national tour at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, on 20th September.

The Royal Opera House is continuing its ROH2 series of innovative and experimental small scale dance, opera and music events, staged in the Linbury Theatre. Upcoming highlights include The Opera Group with Varjak Paw, music by Julian Philips, text by Kit Hesketh Harvey, adapted from S F Said's children's books about a cat, with Alinka Kozari, Lisa Crosato, Akiya Henry, Tim Mead, Simon Wilding, Kevin Kyle, Annabelle Williams and George Ikediashi, directed by John Fulljames, from 25th to 28th September; the Music Theatre Wales production of For You, music by Michael Berkley, text by Ian McEwan, a tale of dark obsession and misplaced passion, with Allison Cook, Christopher Lemmings, Rachel Nicholls, Alan Opie, Helen Williams and Jeremy Huw Williams, directed by Michael McCarthy, from 29th October to 2nd November; and the Royal Ballet with a triple bill comprising a new work by Wayne McGregor, Flemming Flindt's The Lesson and Glen Tetley's Voluntaries, from 13th to 26th November.

The 50th anniversary production of West Side Story, the musical relocating the story of Romeo And Juliet to Hell's Kitchen in 1950s New York, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and choreography by Jerome Robbins, directed by Joey McKneely, currently at Sadler's Wells Theatre, will open a year long national tour at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking on 2nd September.

Further productions have been announced at Trafalgar Studios 2: Lisa Kron's Well, about a New York performance artist and her mother, with Sarah Miles and Natalie Casey, directed by Eve Leigh, opening on 10th September, produced by Henry Filloux-Bennett with Alex Segal; Leo Richardson's SH*T-M*X, the emotional trials and tribulations of being a teenager, with Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Jay Taylor, Steven Webb, Leo Richardson and Cassie Atkinson, directed by Samantha Potter, opening on 1st October, produced by CurvingRoad; Perfect Pitch, the festival of new British musicals, presenting 45 minute concert versions of 6-8 shows in double bills, from 25th to 29th November; and the return of Potted Potter - The Unauthorised Harry Experience, all the J K Rowling books in seventy minutes, written and performed by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, directed by Dominic Knutton and Richard Hurst, opening on 4th December.

The Carl Rosa Opera Company will open a regional tour of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, with a company headed by Jonathan Ansell, Nichola McAuliffe and Sylvester McCoy, directed by Eric Roberts, at Richmond Theatre, on 9th September.

English National Ballet will perform Kenneth Macmillan's Manon, along with its usual productions of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake in its annual Christmas season at the London Coliseum from 3rd December to 11th January.

The Tall Stories Theatre Company production of The Gruffalo, adapted and directed by Toby Mitchell and Olivia Jacobs, from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's children's picture book, will open at the Duchess Theatre on 26th November for a six week season of daytime performances. It is the tale of a mouse in a forest who invents stories about a terrifying creature to scare off predators, but then comes face to face with his imaginary creation. The cast comprises Mark Peachey, Tom Warwick and Alice Parsloe. The producers are Kenneth H Wax and Nick Brooke.