News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 21st November 2003

Joan Collins will return to the British stage in Full Circle, a 1950s comedy by Alan Melville, adapted from Les Enfants d'Edouard by Marc-Gilbert Sauvajon and Frederick Jackson, which will open a regional tour at the Churchill Theatre Bromley on 11th March. A best selling novelist unexpectedly confesses to her children that the man in the portrait above the fireplace in their Paris home is not their father, thus initiating a search for a candidate for the role of father substitute.

The Players Theatre Company is back in business. Having been thrown out of its original premises in The Arches under Charing Cross Station in March last year, the company has been in suspension, but Victorian Music Hall performances have now resumed at The Venue in Leicester Place on Sundays at 4pm. As ever, they are under the direction and chairmanship of Dominic Le Foe, with Derek Taverner comprising the orchestra, and feature former Players favourites including Norma Dunbar, Jan Hunt, John Larsen, Gay Soper and Julia Sutton. There will be a public meeting for supporters at 3pm on Sunday 14th December at The Venue. Further information can be found on the Players web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Broadway director and choreographer Susan Stroman is to stage her first ballet Double Feature for the New York City Ballet, which will premiere on 23rd January in the New York State Theatre at Lincoln Center. The full length, two act ballet (only the seventh in NYCB's history) is inspired by the silent film era, and draws on music from two Broadway composers of the period: Iving Berlin and Walter Donaldson. This seems like a logical progression from Stroman's dance musical Contact, in which she created three narratives using recordings of existing songs.

Following her success as Dorothy Fields, Angela Richards is to star as Ethel Merman in John Kane's bio musical Call Me Merman, featuring the classic songs with which Merman is associated, opening at the King's Head Theatre on 30th December. The cast comprises Susannah Fellows, Michael Roberts and Mark White, who are directed by David Kernan (who also produces with Barbara Ferris) and choreographed by Nick Winston.

The world premiere of Birmingham Royal Ballet's Beauty And The Beast is at Birmingham Hippodrome on 1st December, prior to a regional tour. Directed and choreographed by David Bintley, it features a new score by Canadian composer Glenn Buhr, influenced by the classical tradition, jazz, Broadway, and music of the Near East and India. As well as telling the traditional fairytale story, the ballet looks at its dark side, alluding to the complex relationship that exists between fathers and their daughters with regard to marriage and sexuality.

It's Official! The transfer details of the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! are now confirmed. It will close at the Prince Edward Theatre on 22nd May, and reopen at the refurbished Prince of Wales Theatre on 27th May. As part of the move it will get a makeover, bringing it into line with the Broadway version the show, with an automated set and new costumes. The show is written by Catherine Johnson, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, choreographed by Anthony Van Laast, and produced by Judy Craymer. Booking at the Prince of Wales opens on 1st December.

Visiting companies at Sadler's Wells Theatre in the new year will include: Wim Vandekeybus Blush, a fusion of dance, film and live music by David Eugene Edwards on adult themes; Introdans with Beasts, five pieces in which the company are transformed into birds; Northern Dance Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream, seen as a ballet company on a train journey; The Dance Theatre of Harlem with both classic favourites and recent works; Royal New Zealand Ballet in Christopher Hampson's Romeo And Juliet; Phoenix Dance Theatre with four new works; Ballet Preljocaj's Near Life Experience, an exploration of different physical states, to music by Air; Random Dance Company with Wayne McGregor's AtaXia, which explores interfering with the body's ability to co-ordinate muscular movement; Bill T Jones / Arnie Zane Dance Company with The Phantom Project, a 20th anniversary mixture of their best known works and new pieces; and Opera North with eight one act operas, ranging from Rossini's Loves Luggage Lost to Kurt Weill's Seven Deadly Sins.

The delayed opening of the Hackney Empire, following the 15m restoration of the Frank Matcham auditorium and the rebuilding of the stage facilities, is now scheduled for 28th January, with Russian clown Slava Polunin in his Snowshow.

Following its return to the National Theatre at Christmas, Play Without Words, Matthew Bourne's 'dance drama', based on Joseph Losey's 1963 film of Robin Maugham's The Servant, with music by Terry Davies, will open a regional tour on 16th March at the Theatre Royal Norwich.

The Rumour Machine says: that a stage musical version of Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas film It's A Wonderful Life is in preparation, with book by Francis Matthews, and music and lyrics by Steve Brown, masterminded by American producer Jon Thoday; that Peter Hall, who directed the original English language production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot at the Arts Theatre in 1955, is planning a 50th anniversary production at the Arts in 2005; and that the rehabilitation of David Hare at the National Theatre is complete, as in addition to his current new play The Permanent Way (which arrives in January), the National will produce yet another new work next autumn, directed by Stephen Daldry. The Rumour Machine grinds on.

And Finally . . . The Golden Girls: Live!, an Off Broadway show made up of two episodes of the 1980s sitcom performed by an all male cast, has been forced to close as the producer had neglected to secure the rights. When Susan Harris and Paul Junger Witt, creators of the television series, found out about it they served the show with a cease and desist order.