Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
The sell out National Theatre production of Michael Frayn's Noises Off will transfer to the Piccadilly Theatre on 3rd May following a short regional tour. It shows the onstage and backstage travails of a group of actors performing a farce. The all star cast includes Christopher Benjamin, Susie Blake, Peter Egan, Aden Gillett, Patricia Hodge and Jeff Rawle. It is directed by Jeremy Sams and presented by the Ambassador Theatre Group.
Alan Cumming, Jennifer Ehle and Dominic West will star in Noel Coward's Design For Living in New York. Joe Mantello will direct the Roundabout Theatre Company production opening at the American Airlines Theatre on 15th March. The menage a trois comedy follows the journey of a trio of artists through London, Paris and New York in search of true love.
Caryl Churchill's new 50 minute play Far Away will transfer to the Albery Theatre on 18th January. Directed by Stephen Daldry, it features Linda Bassett as a woman who has to learn to begin a new life when she goes to stay with her aunt. The producer is Robert Fox.
Eugene O'Neill's rarely performed final work A Moon For The Misbegotten plays at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester from 5th to 24th February. Set in Connecticut in 1923, it tells the story of a family of poor tenant farmers who will try any trick to avoid eviction. It features Helen Schlesinger and is directed by Royal Exchange artistic director Matthew Lloyd.
The Wigmore Hall is celebrating its centenary with a six month Centenary Festival running from now until July. The Bechstein Hall, which changed its name to the more acceptable Wigmore during the First World War, opened with a brace of inaugural concerts on 31st May and 1st June 1901, when Eugene Ysaye and Ferruccio Busoni performed works by Beethoven and Bach. The Centenary Festival will feature appearances by many British and world renowned soloists and ensembles, including on the actual Centenary days, Andras Schiff, Barbara Bonney, Andreas Scholl, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Matthias Goerne and Graham Johnson. Details of all the Festival events can be found on the Wigmore Hall web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.
Canadian performer and director Robert Lepage will return to the National Theatre in July with a new one man show The Far Side Of The Moon. It has twin themes, exploring mankind's obsession with space, and the intimate details of one man's life. As with his previous work, Lepage's show uses new technology (which sometimes come a cropper) and traditional theatre techniques.
The Wicker Man a musical play based on the 1973 film is to premiere in Toronto produced by the Mirvish Organisation. It tells a contemporary story of a remote Scottish island community consumed by paganism. Anthony Shaffer has adapted his original screenplay, which will feature the original folk songs and music used in the film.
On The Casting Couch: Clive Rowe will assume the mantle of "Mr Cellophane" and Josefina Gabrielle returns as Roxie in Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre on 15th January; Danni Minogue will continue the Antipodean subtext of Esmeralda in Notre-Dame de Paris at the Dominion Theatre on 29th January; Amanda Donohoe will bring fresh blood (and flesh) to the role of Mrs Robinson in The Graduate at the Gielgud Theatre on 12th February; and Philip Quast, Linzi Hateley, Meredith Braun, Craig Purnell and Freddie Davies are confirmed for the transfer of The Secret Garden at the Aldwych Theatre on 27th February.
Dundee Rep Theatre will premiere the musical Mince?, written, composed and directed by Forbes Mason from 2nd to 19th May. It is a story set in the mind of a jingle writer who finds characters from his past returning to haunt him in song, and concerns a cyber-therapist's attempts to remove them. Mason's previous show Stiff, a black comedy set in an undertakers, became a cult hit and toured extensively.
Soho Theatre's winter season comprises the Sphinx Theatre Company/Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of Bryony Lavery's A Wedding Story, about marriage and the nature of love in an age of brief encounters and one-night stands, directed by Annie Castledine with Jackie Clune, Kika Markham, Andrew Hawkins, Aicha Kossoko and Brendan O'Hea from 18th January to 3rd February; Edinburgh Fringe award winning All Words For Sex written and performed by Jules Leyser, in which four women describe their struggles with the fine line between wanted and unwanted sex, directed by Guy Masterson, from 14th February to 3rd March; and Art and Guff by Kath Tregenna, a comedy about two Welsh writers in London looking for their big break, from 6th to 31st March, a Soho Theatre Company co-production with Sgript Cymru.
Victoria Wood will play a season at the Royal Albert Hall from 19th to 26th September produced by Phil McIntyre.
Premier Off Broadway theatre company The Manhattan Theatre Club has entered into an agreement to undertake the restoration of the Biltmore Theatre on West 47th Street in co-operation with the owners. The 1000 seater venue opened in 1925, and has seen many important productions including Barefoot In The Park and Hair, but it has been dark and in a deteriorating condition since a fire in 1987. The MTC, which concentrates on producing new writing, currently has two stages at City Center on West 55th Street, with 299 and 150 seats. The plan to reconfigure the Biltmore into a 623 seat theatre with improved facilities is expected to cost $18m (a quarter of which is to be found by MTC) and take two years to complete. Unlike City Center, work produced at the Biltmore will be eligible for consideration for the Tony Awards.