Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
In the light of rising costs and falling income (as a result of its new touring policy) the Royal Shakespeare Company is to radically rethink its casting and repertoire. Out go an ensemble company and Shakespeare, and in come stars and a wider range of plays. In order to attract higher profile names, contracts will be reduced from eighteen months to six or even less - no longer requiring touring. The company will also play two different seasons in Stratford each year, to cater for the summer tourist market. First fruits of this will be a winter season with Robert Lindsay as Richard III and Main House productions of School For Scandal (co-produced with a commercial producer) and The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. These plays will probably transfer to London, but not necessarily to the Barbican. In Stratford next summer there will be a festival season, to include Timon Of Athens, in which all the productions will share a common design - as the Peter Hall Company has done at The Old Vic and Piccadilly Theatres - for reduced costs and faster turnarounds.
There has been unrest at the Arts Council this week, with the entire seventeen strong Drama Advisory Panel resigning in protest at the implications of the Council's reorganisation plans. The Panel includes some of the most respected names in theatre, including Alan Ayckbourn, Sam Mendes and Michael Attenborough, and is chaired by Thelma Holt, who has also resigned from the main Council. They felt that the Council streamlining will result in the concentration of power in the hands of chairman Gerry Robinson and secretary-general Peter Hewitt and other bureaucrats rather than practitioners. The Dance and Touring Panels are considering their positions.
An all star cast has been announced for the previously mentioned Off Broadway musical No Way To Treat A Lady coming to the Arts Theatre in August. It will feature Tim Flavin, Joanna Riding, Joan Savage, Paul Bown and Donna McKechnie, who will also choreograph. It is written by Douglas Cohen, directed by Neil Marcus and produced by Ballantrae Theatre Productions.
Disco Queen Donna Summer is to star in an autobiographical musical show called Ordinary Girl some time next winter. It will feature sixteen new songs plus a medley of her old hits. The terrible Mama I Want To Sing of a few years back is a dreadful warning of where this may lead, but the question is, will Donna play her own mother, as Doris Troy did in that? The man with the answers is producer Peter Holmes a'Court for Back Row Productions. Keep an eye on their web site via our Producers section for more details.
A new play by Doug Lucie Love You, Too receives its world premiere at the Bush Theatre on 1st June, with Reece Dinsdale, Susannah Doyle, Miranda Foster and Sam Graham. It tells the story of two thirtysomething couples in London between 1992 and 1997, and how their relationships are changed by contemporary events. Mike Bradwell directs. This will be followed by another premiere - Sugar Sugar by Simon Bent, directed by Paul Miller, on 10th July
Advance Booking: Jackie Mason will be back in to London at the Playhouse Theatre from 9th to 15th November, with a new stand up show Much Ado About Everything prior to its Broadway debut; and Cirque du Soliel will return to the Royal Albert Hall for its now regular winter season from 5th to 24th January next year, with Alegria, the show which played this year. Details about the company and its shows can be found on their web site, via our shows section.