News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st October 2005

English National Ballet will stage the world premiere of The Canterville Ghost a 'preposterous, witty and spooky family ballet' by Will Tuckett, with music by Martin Ward, at the New Wimbledon Theatre on 25th May. Based on Oscar Wilde's novella, it is the comic tale of an American family who buy a medieval English manor house that is haunted by a 300 year old ghost. When the ghost tries to scare the family out of his home, the children turn the tables by playing tricks on him.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Sinatra At The London Palladium, a multimedia recreation of a Frank Sinatra concert, will open at the London Palladium on 8th March. 20ft high moving screens showing 35mm film footage of Sinatra performing in the 1950s, providing the sight and sound of the singer, will be combined with a live orchestra and chorus of singers and dancers. It will be a revised version of the show that played at Radio City Music Hall in New York in 2003, taking advantage of the latest digital technology, including new written material by Bill Zehme, directed by David Leveaux, with choreography by Stephen Mears.

With The Rogue's Company: Henry IV At The National Theatre is the snappy title of Bella Merlin's book just published by Orion, which tells the backstage story of Nicholas Hytner's recent production. It follows the journey from pre-rehearsal planning to opening night in the Olivier, charting the processes that brought Shakespeare's two quintessential history plays to life, from the actors minute textual analysis in the rehearsal room, to practical matters like the staging of fights. In doing so, it provides a unique insight into theatre in general, and to Shakespeare and the National in particular.

Peter Bowles, Simon Hepworth and Bryan Murray star in Laurie Slade's Joe And I, a new biographical comedy about the playwrights Terence Rattigan, Joe Orton and Oscar Wilde, directed by Joe Harmston, opening at the King's Head Theatre in Islington on 15th November. In 1964, when Rattigan writes to congratulate Orton on the success of his first play, he is not prepared for Orton to turn up at his Piccadilly apartment, or for the events that follow. The producer is Plunge Productions.

Xposure05, the 4th London Disability and Deaf Arts Festival, running from 1st November to 12th December, is the largest event of its kind in the Britain. Over 20 productions including theatre, dance, multimedia, club nights, exhibitions, workshops and cabaret, by disabled and deaf artists from home and abroad, will be staged in seven different venues. Among the highlights are: the Mind The Gap production of Of Mice And Men; Daryl Beeton with Moments In Motion, taking movement and mobility aids beyond their original design; Phocomedia Productions' Thalidomide! A Musical, a dark and funny love story set against the 60s thalidomide drug scandal; German dance company Dina-13 TanzCompany's Skinbetween, questioning society's rules and rituals; and dance and media artist Bill Shannon with Regarding The Fall. Further information can be found on the Xposure web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The latest exhibition at the Royal Opera House is Maria Callas And Swarovski Jewels On Stage, showing jewellery worn by Maria Callas for her stage appearances, together with costumes from the ROH Archives, photographs, programs and other memorabilia. Throughout her career, Callas wore stage jewellery only from Milan's Atelier Marangoni, apart from that which she wore for her performances at Covent Garden, made in the ROH workshops. The artist and craftsman Ennio Marino Marangoni founded his workshop in 1940 and used crystals made by the Tyrolean company Swarovski in his jewellery. In 1999 Swarovski bought the Atelier Marangoni and preserved the unique collection of Maria Callas's stage jewellery. The exhibition continues until January.

On The Casting Couch: Daniel Evans and Anna-Jane Casey will be joined by Simon Green, Ian McLarnon, Mark McKerracher, Alasdair Harvey, Liza Sadovy and Gay Soper in Sunday In The Park With George, opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark on 17th November; Ben Daniels, Paul Hilton, William Gaunt, Nicholas Le Prevost, Susan Brown, Peter Eyre, Michelle Fairley and Sinead Matthews will star in The Wild Duck, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 13th December; and Russell Tovey, Sam Cox, Simon Trinder, Tom Wu, Kenon Mann, Jason Rowe. Nick Tigg and Nicola Blackwell head the cast of Tintin, opening at the Barbican Theatre on 14th December.

The Theatre Royal Bath, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this month, is launching the 3m The Egg theatre as part of the expansion of its youth theatre and education programme. The 120 seater auditorium has been created in the shell of a former cinema next to the theatre itself. It opens on 23rd October with Big Day In, a day of free events for families, followed by the Wild And Wacky Festival of performances and workshops for children, running throughout out the day and early evening until 29th October.

The Next Big Thing, a new musical by Mark Burton and Pete Sinclair, with additional songs by Willie Dowling, directed by Clive Paget, with choreography by Jenny Arnold, opens at the New Players Theatre on 2nd November. The company comprises Lisa Baird, Jon Boydon, Anna Carmichael, Glenn Chapman, Keiron Crook, Hugo Degenhardt, Jon Paul Hevey, Guy James, Robin Johnson, Melissa Lloyd and James Parkes. The show charts a guitarist's journey through the British music business, from the 1960s to the present day, in his enduring attempt to become a star. The produces are Mike West Productions in association with P & S Productions.

The 51st National Student Drama Festival will take place in Scarborough from 1st to 7th April, and is open to everyone: colleges, youth theatres, community organisations and universities. Entrants can embrace all styles and themes, from devised work to modern classics, from musical theatre to new writing, and from physical theatre to the great classic drama of the past. During the Festival, the town assumes the mantle of a mini Edinburgh Fringe, as a variety of venues become performance spaces. Further information about the festival and how to participate can be found on the NSDF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.