News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 22nd October 2004

Patrick Stewart and Canadian television actor Joshua Jackson will star in David Mamet's A Life In The Theatre, directed by Lindsay Posner, opening at the Apollo Theatre on 2nd February. The two hander traces the relationship of a veteran actor and an aspiring newcomer who share a dressing room in a tatty provincial repertory theatre. It will be produced by Out Of The Blue and Theatreshare.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Peter Hall Company production of Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, with Penelope Keith, Aiden Gillett, Joanna Riding and Amanda Drew, directed by Thea Sharrock, first seen at the Theatre Royal Bath and currently touring, will open at the Savoy Theatre on 22nd November. When an author and his second wife ask an eccentric medium to hold a seance as an after dinner entertainment, she inadvertently conjures up the ghost of his deceased first wife, who attempts to reclaim her husband.

Grace, composer Cy Coleman's musical about Grace Kelly, which received its world premiere in Holland in 2001, is to be 'reimagined' for an English speaking audience. It will have a book by A R Gurney, and lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, created under the guidance of British/Australian director Michael Blakemore. The action takes place on film director Alfred Hitchcock's sound stage, and the fictional plot concerns the actress Grace Kelly being pulled three ways, between her conservative American roots, acting in a project with Hitchcock, and the royal family of Monaco.

Sotheby's is holding a sale of the most important Oscar Wilde collection remaining in private hands, at its New Bond Street premises, at 11am on 29th October, with viewing from 24th October onwards. There will be over 100 lots of first editions, inscribed presentation copies, letters, manuscripts, original photographs, cartoons, playbills, programmes and ephemera. Possibly the most poignant item is the Tite Street catalogue, listing the sale of virtually all Wilde's books, pictures, furniture, china and other domestic goods, to cover the costs of his failed lawsuit against the Marquess of Queensberry. Further information can be found on the Sotheby's web site via the link from the Emporium section of TheatreNet.

Though the season of performances has drawn to a close, Shakespeare's Globe moves indoors to continue its programme of staged readings of rarely performed Elizabethan plays on Sunday afternoons in its Education Centre, beginning with companion pieces. On 28th November: Lust's Dominion, by Marston, Dekker, Haughton and Day, set in corrupt Spain, is the first Elizabethan play in which a Moor takes centre stage, but unlike Othello, he is from the mould of earlier stage villains. On 5th December: The Tragedy Of Othello, The Moor Of Venice, by William Shakespeare, will be a rare opportunity to hear the first printed text of 1622, which is very different from the First Folio version with which we are familiar. Each reading is preceded at 12noon by an introduction to its background.

The Irish dance show Riverdance has announced what is billed as its last ever UK dates. A two month tour will open at the Playhouse in Edinburgh on 14th February, which will included performances from 4th to 9th April at the London Apollo Hammersmith - where it became a record breaking phenomenon. Composed by Bill Whelan, directed by John McColgan, and produced by Moya Doherty, the stage show was developed from a seven minute filler in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. In addition to Irish dancers, singers and musicians, the company of over 80 performers includes Russian folk dancers, American tap dancers and Spanish flamenco artists. The tour presented by Clear Channel Entertainment.

Playbill, which publishes the programmes for all Broadway shows, and whose web site is the definitive American theatre news and information source, has launched a sibling web site: PlaybillArts. Part of the Classic Arts division of the company, which publishes programmes for the Lincoln Center in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, it features news, reviews, listings and background articles about classical music, opera, dance and jazz, in America and world wide. Both Playbill sites can be found via links from the New York section of TheatreNet.

Enid Blyton's most famous character will undertake his first ever UK wide arena tour, in Noddy Live!, opening at Wembley Arena on 27th December. The show features all the regular characters (except the gollywogs), songs, special effects and the famous red and yellow car. It is produced by Milkshake! and DC Entertainment.

Musical Chairs: Actor and director Samuel West is to succeed Michael Grandage as artistic director of Sheffield Theatres - the Crucible, Studio and Lyceum - from next June, where he is already scheduled to direct Terry Johnson's Insignificance in February. David Farr, joint artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic with Simon Reade, is to succeed Neil Bartlett as artistic director of the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, also in June. Reade will then assume solo control at Bristol.

A major survey of West End audiences, carried out for the Society Of London Theatre by MORI, presents a generally favourable opinion of London's theatreland, with 91% rating the performance they attended as either very or fairly good, and 80% saying that it was either very or fairly good value for money. The main reservations were about transport, with 22% saying that public transport ending early in the evening put them off visiting, and the provision and condition of theatre bar and toilet facilities. The survey reiterated findings from previous reports that the domestic audience accounts for 73% of attendees, half of whom are from greater London, with Americans making up 45% of overseas visitors. The report, which includes detailed figures on satisfaction and audience profile, plus findings on booking, marketing, media and expenditure, can be purchased from the SOLT web site via the link opposite.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Crucible Theatre Sheffield production of Friedrich Schiller's Don Carlos, with Derek Jacobi, Richard Coyle, Claire Price and Una Stubbs, directed by Michael Grandage, will make a swift transfer to the West End; and that having successfully moved Little Britain from radio to television, David Walliams and Matt Lucas will now create a stage version, which will premiere at next year's Edinburgh Festival. The Rumour Machine grinds on.