News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd March 2001

It's Official! Confirming earlier rumours, Cameron Mackintosh will transfer Trevor Nunn's National Theatre production of Lerner and Lowe's My Fair Lady with Jonathan Pryce and Martine McCutcheon to Drury Lane opening on 21st July; Calista Flockhart will make her London stage debut in The Philadelphia Story by Philip Barry at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 21st May, directed by Arvin Brown and produced by Duncan Weldon; and Michael Blakemore's current Tony Award winning Broadway production of Kiss Me Kate, with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and book by Sam and Bella Spewack, will open at the Victoria Palace in September.

Japan 2001, a festival celebrating Japanese performing and visual arts will take place at venues throughout Britain from May through to March next year. It starts with Matsuri - Japan In The Park on 19th and 20th May, which will bring Japanese music, theatre, dance, food and culture to London in the biggest free event to be held in Hyde Park this year. London Theatre events will include: Chikamatsu-za, the leading Kabuki theatre company performing Sonesaki Shinju (Love Suicides At Sonesaki), one of the greatest works in Kabuki at Sadler's Wells from 30th May to 9th June; the Ninagawa Company with Yukio Mishima Noh Plays, which examine time, death and the transience of earthy things, as part of the Barbican's BITE: 2001 season from 20th to 27th June; and the Nomura Mansaku Company in The Comedy Of Errors, performed in Japanese, at Shakespeare's Globe from 18th to 22nd July. Further information on events, which include the ancient Japanese traditions of martial arts, origami, flower arranging and horseback archery, can be found on the Japan 2001 web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

English National Ballet returns to the Royal Albert Hall with Derek Deane's arena staging of Romeo And Juliet featuring a company of 120 dancers from 13th to 23rd June. Raymond Gubbay presents the production.

Alan Ayckbourn's Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough and Sam Walters Orange Tree Theatre Richmond are to mount a series of joint ventures. Walters next Orange Tree production Clockwatching, by recent Stephen Joseph writer in residence Torben Betts, which opens on 30th March will transfer to Scarborough on 11th May. It follows the fortunes and misfortunes of one family as they grapple with the trials and temptations that life throws at them over the course of a year. A new play David Cregan will open at the Stephen Joseph and transfer to Richmond in the autumn. Meanwhile there will be a one day seminar on Ayckbourn presented by Michael Billington at the Orange Tree on 28th April.

The Generating Company, the 25 strong group of acrobats and aerialists formed by members of the Millennium Dome show company, will launch its first production Storm at The Circus Space in Hoxton on 17th April. The show, which has been created by Pierrot Bidon, will play for a month before embarking on a regional tour, followed by a return London visit. The Circus Space provided their training prior to the Dome show and is one of Europe's largest training centres for contemporary circus arts. Further information can be found on The Circus Space web site via the link from the Training section of TheatreNet.

Asda's programme of drive in movies in their supermarket car parks last summer proved so successful that this year it is quadrupling the number of venues to 110. Under the influence of their American parent company Wal-Mart, they are using "retailtainment" to attract customers to their stores. They aimed for the family market by showing films such as Jurassic Park, Babe and most suitably Grease. Customers can tune their car radios to hear the soundtrack. Sponsors from confectionery companies offer free samples of their products which are distributed during the events. The money raised from a 1 per car ticket charge is donated to charity and 50,000 was raised last year. Asda is now looking at ice skating and pantomime for the winter months.

Karen Drury, Duncan Duff, Mike Hayley and Dean Loxton star in Arthur Schnitzler's Anatol at Nottingham Playhouse from 10th to 28th April. It presents a series of encounters with the past, present and future lovers of a charming but shameless seducer of women, in turn of the century Vienna. Although it ploughs a not dissimilar furrow to La Ronde it is a comedy with a twist in the tail. Paul Jepson directs.

Michael Kaiser, former head of Covent Garden and now president of Washington's Kennedy Center, America's biggest arts complex, has announced its 2001/2002 season. It includes a major Stephen Sondheim festival with seven of his musical theatre works to be presented at the Eisenhower Theater between May and August next year, including Merrily We Roll Along, Pacific Overtures and Sunday In The Park With George. Full details can be found on the Kennedy Center's web site (which features a daily webcast concert) via the link from the International Venues section of TheatreNet.

Roy Hudd, Leslie Grantham, Joanna Van Gyseghem, Peter Alexander and Sandra Payne star in Eric Chappell's comedy Theft which opens a regional tour at the Kings Theatre Edinburgh on 15th May. When a businessman and his wife return home and catch what they think is a burglar, all is not what it seems. Jeremy Meadows directs.

And Finally . . . Claude Lelouch is to introduce a new (old) concept to Cine-Theatre 13 in Paris. The evening will start with a one act play, followed by a champagne interval with a chance to meet the cast, and then a surprise film which could be a drama, musical or documentary. The plays will run for four months and the films will change twice weekly. A similar idea was tried at the Piccadilly Theatre in London in 1937, (but without the champagne) when the programme included a newsreel, a cartoon, and a live "swingaphonic" orchestra, in addition to John Mills and Yvonne Arnaud in Talk Of The Devil.