News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd May 2008

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Tony Award winning Atlantic Theater Company production of the musical Spring Awakening, book and lyrics by Steven Sater, and music by Duncan Sheik, directed by Michael Mayer, with choreography by Bill T Jones, will receive its British premiere at the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith on 3rd February. The show is adapted from Frank Wedekind's 1891 expressionist play, about the sexual stirrings of young people in a world where parents, ministers and teachers create an atmosphere of shame, silence and ignorance. Although it retains the original period setting and dialogue, it has an aggressive rock score.

Prior to this, the autumn season at the Lyric will include the National Theatre of Scotland's production of 365 One Night To Learn A Lifetime, by David Harrower, with songs by Paul Buchanan, about young people in practice flats prior to leaving care, directed by Vicky Featherstone, from 8th September; Peepolykus with Spyski! (Or The Importance Of Being Honest), a comic thriller about international espionage and the poisoning of a Russian dissident in London, directed by David Farr, opening on 13th October; Frantic Assembly with a new contemporary take on Shakespeare's Othello, seen as a black bouncer in a white northern town, from 4th November; and the Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella, directed by Melly Still, opening on 5th December.

Theatre Set-Up, the company that takes Shakespeare outdoors to historic settings across the country, is this year performing All's Well That Ends Well, with a company of eight: Elizabeth Arends, Terry Ashe, Toby Eddington, Peter Lundie Wager, Wendy Macphee Richard Plumley, Tony Portacio and Kyra Williams. Now in its 32nd season, Theatre Set-Up works in association with English Heritage, The National Trust, and public and private stately homes, gardens and castles, performing mostly one night stands, this year from 7th June until 17th August. The diverse venues include Glastonbury Abbey, Ventnor Botanic Gardens, Tatton Park Old Hall, The Rookery Streatham Common, Powderham Castle and The Lost Gardens Of Helligan. Further information can be found on the TSU web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The new season at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn will include the return of Ron Hutchinson's golden age of Hollywood comedy Moonlight And Magnolias, in which producer David O Selznick hires script doctor Ben Hecht and director Victor Fleming to 'fix' his film of Gone With The Wind, with Andy Nyman and Steven Pacey, directed by Sean Holmes, from 2nd July; and Kwame Kwei-Armah's Let There Be Love, a story of cross generational immigrants, set against the music of Nat King Cole, in which a West Indian pensioner teaches his young Polish home help how to be British, with Joseph Marcell, directed by Kwei-Armah, from 5th August; plus the Filter/Royal Shakespeare Company production of Twelfth Night, a radical new take on Shakespeare's story of romance and mistaken identity, with Ollie Dinsdale and Ferdy Roberts, directed by Sean Holmes, opening on 2nd September; the British premiere of August Wilson's Radio Golf, about a politician running for the highest office of his career, whose past is just a few steps behind him - and gaining fast, directed by Paulette Randall, opening on 6th October; and Joe Orton's Loot, a black farce, with an extremely complicated plot involving stolen money and a dead body, with Matt Di Angelo, directed by Sean Holmes, opening on 15th December.

Rather more homespun than Glyndebourne, Bampton Classical Opera presents its 2008 season of outdoor performances at Whichford House, Westonbirt School, Wooton House and Bampton Deanery, continuing its policy of breathing new life into little known works of the classical period. The productions are Mozart's Apollo And Hyacinth and Gluck's Le cinesi, with Martene Grimson, Amanda Pitt, Serena Kay, Lina Markeby and Tom Raskin; and the British premiere of Ferdinando Paer's Leonora, with Cara McHardy, Emily Rowley Jones, Michael Bracegirdle. Jonathan Stoughton, John Upperton, Adrian Powter, Samuel Evans, all directed by Jeremy Gray. Performances include a picnic interval. Further information can be found on the BCO web site, via the link from Dance & Opera in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Almeida Theatre in Islington has announced its autumn season, which will comprise: the Abbey Theatre Dublin/New York Public Theatre production of Kicking A Dead Horse, written and directed by Sam Shepard, the story of a wealthy Manhattan art dealer who abandons city life in search of authenticity in the modern day Wild West, with Stephen Rea, opening on 10th September; Harley Granville Barker's Waste, about an independent politician whose personal life brings scandal into the political arena, directed by Samuel West, opening on 2nd October; and the European premiere of Neil LaBute's In A Dark Dark House, a reunion of two brothers as one is forced into rehab, where scarcely concealed animosities resurface, directed by Michael Attenborough, opening on 27th November.

On The Casting Couch: Emma Williams and Adam Levy will join Matt Rawle and Lesli Margherita in the musical Zorro, opening at the Garrick Theatre on 15th July.

The National Theatre will inaugurate Sunday performances with the return of Michael Morpurgo's War Horse, adapted by Nick Stafford, about a boy who goes to the battlefield in the First World War to rescue his horse, directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliott, in collaboration with South African puppet company Handspring. The company includes Alan Williams, Tim van Eyken, James Barriscale, Paul Chequer and Finn Caldwell.

The Scoop, the 850 seater open air amphitheatre next to City Hall, the Greater London Assembly building on the south bank opposite the Tower of London, is presenting another summer season of free performances, Wednesdays to Sundays from 31st July to 7th September. It will comprise Federico Garcia Lorca's Blood Wedding, in a translation by Ted Hughes, a tale of love, lust and betrayal, whose action is highly symbolic, incorporating song, chant, poetry, music, and rhythm; and Petite Rouge - A Cajun Red Riding Hood, Joan Cushing's family musical, based on Mike Artell's children's book, which relocates the fairytale to the American south. As with the previous shows, they will be directed by Phil Willmott, and produced by Suzanna Rosenthal and The Steam Industry. There is no need to book - just turn up and sit down. Prior to this, there will be a season of free screenings of classic films at 9pm on Wednesday to Friday evenings between 4th and 27th June; and free lunchtime and early evening concerts, on Wednesdays to Fridays between 2nd and 25th July. Further information can be found on The Scoop web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Following a launch at the Edinburgh Fringe, Joan Rivers is to perform in her 'factional' autobiographical comedy Joan Rivers - A Work In Progress By A Life In Progress, with Emily Kosloski, Carrie Paff and Mark Philips, directed by Sean Foley, opening at the Leicester Square Theatre (formerly The Venue) in Leicester Place, from 29th August.