News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 22nd July 2005

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the eighth 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 19th August to 2nd September. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to over 25 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 27th July. Further information can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Hampstead Theatre has announced its autumn season, comprising:

Michael Pennington in Edward Kemp's translation of Nathan The Wise, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's 18th century play about religious tolerance set in Jerusalem at the time of the Third Crusade, directed by Anthony Clark, opening on 19th September; the world premiere of Nell Leyshon's Comfort Me With Apples, in which an estranged daughter returns home to disturb the quiet life on a farm, directed by Lucy Bailey, on 24th October; Samantha Bond, Will Keen and Gary Kemp in The Rubinstein Kiss, inspired by the story of the Rosenbergs, the American husband and wife who were executed for espionage during the 1950s, written and directed by James Phillips, opening on 23rd November; and the Tall Stories Theatre Company production of The Gruffalo, the musical adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's children's picture book, which is currently the Criterion Theatre, opening on 20th December.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Richard E Grant and Anthony Head will star in Simon Gray's comedy Otherwise Engaged, directed by Simon Curtis, which opens a regional tour at the Theatre Royal Bath on 19th September, and transfers to the Criterion Theatre on 1st November. It is the story of a publisher, accustomed to keeping himself at a distance from the messy distractions of family and friends, who settles down for a quiet evening at home, but is besieged by a deluge of unwelcome visitors. The producers are Mark Rubinstein, Sonia Friedman Productions, Lee Menzies and TEG Productions.

Ian Richardson and James Ellis will star in The Creeper, by Pauline Macaulay, directed by Bill Bryden, which opens a prospective pre West End season at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford on 5th September. The classic thriller tells of a young opportunist who becomes a residential companion to a wealthy eccentric, but finds that the good life hides dark secrets.

The Royal Court Theatre has announced two further productions. Richard Bean's Harvest, which looks at how farming and the countryside has changed over the decades, will open on 2nd September; and Juliet Stevenson will star in Tom Murphy's Alice Trilogy, exploring key events in a woman's life from 1980 to the present day, directed by Ian Rickson, opening on 10th November. As previously mentioned, Megan Dodds stars as the American protester who perished beneath a bulldozer as she protected a Palestinian home in My Name Is Rachel Corrie, the 'factional' one person play, developed by Katharine Viner and Alan Rickman, and directed by Rickman, which returns on 11th October.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Steptoe And Son are taking to the stage. Steptoe And Son In Murder At Oil Drum Lane, featuring the characters from the television series about two rag and bone men, by Ray Galton (one of its original creators) and John Antrobus, directed by Roger Smith, will premiere at the Theatre Royal York on 24th October. The contemporary story begins as a lone figure with a murderous secret arrives at Harold and Albert Steptoe's dilapidated house in Oil Drum Lane - now in the hands of the National Trust as the last remaining example of a typical totter's yard. Prior to this, a stage adaptation of the film comedy East Is East, by Ayub Khan-Din, which relates the divergent lives of the Khan family as they establish their own identities in a world of mixed cultural backgrounds, directed by Damian Cruden, opens at the Theatre Royal on 23rd September. It is a co-production with Pilot Theatre Company and the Octagon Theatre, Bolton.

On The Casting Couch: Rob Lowe will be joined by Suranne Jones, Jack Ellis and John Barrowman in A Few Good Men, opening at the Haymarket Theatre on 6th September; and John Mahoney, Geff Francis, Nigel Lindsay, Paul Ready, Nick Sampson, Colin Stinton and Nick Woodeson will star in David Mamet's Romance, opening at the Almeida Theatre on 14th Sepember.

The Bush Theatre's autumn season will include After The End, by Dennis Kelly, about a couple trapped in a building after an explosion, directed by Roxana Silbert, from 14th September, a co-production with Paines Plough; the world premiere of Bottle Universe by Simon Burt, about two troubled young people who discover the 'fun' in dysfunctional in each other, directed by Sue Dunderdale on 14th October; and When You Cure Me, by Jack Thorne, 'a bittersweet tale of love and misunderstanding', directed by Mike Bradwell, from 18th November.

The Equity Trust Fund is now accepting applications for its Educational Bursaries, awarded to offer financial assistance to enable members of the theatrical profession, with a minimum of 10 years experience, who are looking to refocus their career. For further information, contact the ETF on 020 7404 6041, or write to Room 222 Africa House, 64 Kingsway, London WC2B 6BD.

The British Shakespeare Company, the producer of outdoor Shakespeare (with unusual casting choices) is this year presenting A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Taming Of The Shrew, with Tony Booth and Chloe Newsome, directed by Robert J Williamson, at Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds from 10th August to 3rd September.

The Tricycle Theatre is to present an African American Trilogy, performed by an ensemble company that will include Jenny Jules, Joseph Marcell and Carmen Munroe. It comprises: Abram Hill's Walk Hard, directed by Nicholas Kent, opening on 21st November; August Wilson's recent Broadway success Gem Of The Ocean, part of his cycle of plays looking at black life in 20th century America, directed by Paulette Randall, opening on 6th January; and Lynn Nottage's Fabulation or The Re-Education of Undine, a comedy about a successful Manhattan businesswoman who gets a few surprises when she is returned to her roots in the shabby Brooklyn projects, opening on 6th February.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Tony Award winning musical Avenue Q, a kind of adult Sesame Street with a mixture of real and puppet performers, will make its London debut at the Theatre Royal Stratford East early next year; that Glenn Close and Ewan McGregor will star in a film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Sunset Boulevard; and that Igor Stravinsky's Faustian music theatre piece about a violin playing soldier The Soldier's Tale, in a new translation by Abdul Karim Kasid, Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Jeremy Sams, will receive a West End production in January, directed by Andrew Steggall. The Rumour Machine grinds on.