News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd February 2007

In this year's Olivier Awards the main honours went to Sunday In The Park With George, which took 5 awards, including Outstanding Musical Production, Best Musical Actor - Daniel Evans and Best Musical Actress - Jenna Russell, as the big spectacular musicals that opened in the autumn were ignored. The show's producing theatre, the Menier Chocolate Factory, even won more awards than the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court. The drama categories also provided surprises with Blackbird taking Best Drama. Disgracefully, once again this year there was no television coverage of the presentations ceremony of Britain's premier theatre awards, but full details can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite and below.

Chichester Festival Theatre has announced its season running from 12th April to 22nd September. In the Festival Theatre: Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's musical Babes In Arms, the original 'let's do the show right here' showbiz story of a group of young performers who stage their own show, directed by Martin Connor, with choreography by Bill Deamer; the premiere of Roger Crane's thriller The Last Confession, about events surrounding the death of Pope John Paul I, with David Suchet, directed by David Jones; Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, with Patrick Stewart, directed by Philip Franks; and Harold Brighouse's Hobson's Choice, the tale of a cantankerous Victorian boot shop owner and his three strong willed daughters, with John Savident, directed by Jonathan Church; plus the return of last year's production of David Edgar's two part adaptation of Charles Dickens's The Life And Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, directed by Jonathan Church and Philip Franks.

In the Minerva Theatre: Alan Bennet's Office Suite, a double bill of office based comedies, Green Forms and A Visit From Miss Prothero, with Patricia Routledge and Edward Petherbridge, directed by Edward Kemp; Shakespeare's Macbeth, with Patrick Stewart, directed by Rupert Goold; Jean Anouilh's The Waltz Of The Toreadors, in a new translation by Ranjit Bolt, a farce in which a once debonair lieutenant is in the throes of a mid-life crisis, with Peter Bowles, directed by Lindsay Posner; and Mark Rylance in The Big Secret Live 'I Am Shakespeare' Webcam Daytime Chatroom Show, co-written with John Dove, and co-directed with Mathew Warchus, in which he endeavours to find out who really wrote those plays.

Fame The Musical is to return to London on 8th May, at the Shaftesbury Theatre, which will be its 5th West End home. Inspired by Alan Parker's 1980 film, and the subsequent television series, the stage version tells the stories of a new generation of students at New York's High School of Performing Arts, from their auditions to graduation. It was conceived and developed by David de Silva, with lyrics by Jacques Levy and music by Steven Margoshes, directed by Runar Borge, and restaged by Karen Bruce.

The Donmar Warehouse has announced its forthcoming season. It confirms Harold Pinter's Betrayal, the semi autobiographical play about a wife who has a long term affair with her husband's best friend, which starts with the crumbling of the marriage and unravels backwards in time to the night the affair began, directed by Roger Mitchell, opening on 5th June; Absurdia, a triple bill comprising two classic 1950s absurdist plays, N F Simpson's A Resounding Tinkle and Gladly Otherwise, and a new play by Michael Frayn, The Crimson Hotel, directed by Douglas Hodge, who becomes an associate director of the theatre, opening on 31st July; and the British premiere of the musical Parade, book by Alfred Uhry, music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, based on the true story of a man in Atlanta Georgia in 1913 accused of raping and murdering a child who was lynched, with choreographer Rob Ashford making his directoral debut, opening on 24th September.

The spring season at Derby Playhouse includes the British premiere of the La Boite Theatre Company production of Johnno, adapted and directed by Stephen Edwards, from the novel by David Malouf, the story of two friends in Brisbane Australia, their pilgrimage to London, and their return home, in the 1940s and 1950s, opening on 8th March; Merrily We Roll Along, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by George Furth, based on the play by George Kaufman and Moss Hart, following the career of a Broadway musical writing team from its zenith back to its origins, directed by Karen Louise Hebden, opening on 19th April; and Shakespeare's As You Like It, directed by David Freeman, opening on 31st May.

The Tangram Theatre Company's Edinburgh Fringe hit Crunch! will play a season at the Arts Theatre near Leicester Square, from 28th March to 14th April. A devised theatre piece, based on an original script by director Daniel Goldman, it uses physical theatre, songs, puppetry and storytelling to explore factual and fictional apples through history, from William Tell to Isaac Newton.

Australian Dance Theatre has just opened a national performing Held, a fusion of photography, fashion and dance, which continues until 31st March. Gary Stewart's choreography for punk style dancers is captured and frozen in 1/2000 of a second by Lois Greenfield's photography, and projected instantaneously onto screens around the stage, creating a dynamic between the moving and still images.

The musical Days Of Hope, book by Renata Allen, music by Howard Goodall, with David Burt, Siobhan McCarthy, Aimie Atkinson, Simon Thomas, Matt Cross, James Russell and Victoria Yeates, directed by Russell Labey, with musical staging by Tara Wilkinson, will open at the King's Head Theatre in Islington on 21st March. It tells the story of a family caught up in the Spanish Civil War. The producers are Milton Morrissey Productions in association with Andy Barnes Productions, Jason Haigh Ellery, Sally Humphreys and Cole Kitchenn.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill stage adaptation of Billy Wilder's 1959 film Some Like It Hot, will return to the West End in the autumn, directed by Jerry Zaks; that choreographer Gillian Lynne and Jill Arlon are working on a dance show, Dancing The Night Away, which will feature couples dancing, 'Fred and Ginger' style; and that after many roumours in the past, Andrew Lloyd Webber is now seriously considering writing a sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera. The Rumour Machine grinds on.