News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd June 2006

The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which comprises

David Mamet's The Cryptogram, charting the breakdown of a family and pinpointing the moment when childhood finally disappears, directed by Josie Rourke, opening on 17th October; the world premiere Patrick Marber's Don Juan In Soho, relocating the notorious character from Moliere's play in contemporary London, directed by Michael Grandage, opening on 6th December; and Ian McDiarmid as Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman, in a new version by David Eldridge, about a man disgraced following a fraud scandal and imprisonment, and the ramifications it has on his family, also directed by Michael Grandage, opening on 20th February.

Once again this year the National Theatre is presenting Watch This Space, its free outdoor festival in Theatre Square from 7th July to 2nd September, with a programme of street theatre, music, circus, late night cinema, installations, dance, cabaret and other events. Participants include Spiral Flight, The Strangelings, Bash Street Theatre, Queen of the Circus and the Insect Circus Museum, plus acrobatics from Mimbre, romantic comedy with Artizani, a juggling tribute to Freddie Mercury. Events are generally at 6.30pm Mondays to Saturdays, 1.15pm Wednesdays to Saturdays, and 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Further information can be found on the National Theatre web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Damian Humbley and Lara Pulver will star in the British premiere of Jason Robert Brown's award winning Off Broadway musical The Last Five Years, directed by Matthew White, opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Borough, on 25th July. The semi autobiographical two handed song cycle is the story of a relationship, told from beginning to end by the man, and from end to beginning by the woman.

After 25 years the Edinburgh Fringe Perrier Comedy Awards are no more, as the drinks company has ended its sponsorship. For 3 years from this August, the awards will be sponsored by Intelligent Finance, and known as the 'if.comeddies', an ungainly combination derived from the sponsor, the genre and the location. In addition to the main and Best Newcomer awards, a third - as yet unspecified - award will be introduced.

The London Bubble Theatre Company is performing Metamorphoses: Ovid's Tales Of Transformation, adapted from Greek and Roman myths of spectacle and magic, directed by Jonathan Petherbridge, as an outdoor promenade production in parks, woods and open spaces around London from 29th June until 14th August. It will be accompanied during August by Myths, Rituals And White Goods, a participatory project involving up to 75 people of all ages, combining physical theatre, live music, and storytelling, exploring Ovid's tales and mankind's contemporary obsession with consumer goods. The locations are the previous haunts of Valentines Park Ilford, Waterlow Park Highgate, Manor Farm Park Ruislip, Gunnersbury Park Chiswick, Oxleas Woods Shooters Hill, Raphael Park Gidea Park, Sydenham Wells Park, and Southwark Park Bermondsey. Further information can be found on the London Bubble web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The stage adaptation of J R R Tolkein's The Lord Of The Rings, with book and lyrics by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus, and music by A R Rahman and Finnish folk group Varttina with Christopher Nightingale, directed by Matthew Warchus, with choreography by Peter Darling, will open at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 19th June next year. It will be a revised version of the show that opened to mixed reviews in Toronto in March. The producers are Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz.

The British Shakespeare Company, the producer of outdoor Shakespeare (with unusual casting choices) is this year presenting their previous production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, with David Davies, Mina Anwar, and Wayne Sleep, directed by Robert J Williamson, and a new production of Romeo And Juliet, with Sean B Brosnan, Liana Weafer and Mina Anwar, directed by Robert J Williamson and Pippa Minnithorpe, at the Edinburgh, Nottingham and Leeds Shakespeare Festivals, ending in Holland Park from 22nd to 27th August. Further information can be found on the BSC web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Australian writer Melanie Tait's semi autobiographical comedy The Vegemite Tales, about a group of young antipodeans sharing a west London flat, previously seen last year at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, will open at The Venue, off Leicester Square, on 2nd August. Bill Buckhurst will direct Blair McDonough, Andrew Robb, and Tom Sangster from the previous cast, joined by Andy Leonard, Jessica Gerger and Sarah McGlade. The producer is Itchy Feet Theatre.

The Society of London Theatre has published the Box Office Data Report 2005, providing detailed analysis of attendance figures and box office returns in the West End, which includes the major commercial and grant-aided theatres. Despite the terrorist attack in July, overall attendances in 2005 were the highest on record at 12,318,625, a rise of 2.4% from 2004. The number of performances was also the highest ever at 17, 416, up 1.0% on the previous year. As well as exploring the attendance statistics as a whole, the report also analyses the differences in number of performances, attendance and receipts between the subsidised and commercial sectors, and discusses audience trends in relation to category of production. The Box Office Data Report is essential reading for theatre investors, producers, and theatre marketers, as well as those in academic and government sectors dealing with the performing arts. Further information can be found on the SOLT web site via the link opposite below.

The Rumour Machine says: that Alan Cumming will star in Martin Sherman's concentration camp play Bent in the West End in September; that playwright Richard Bean, composer Michel Legrand and lyricist Don Black are working on a stage musical adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's The Count Of Monte Cristo; that Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, directed by John Doyle, will open at Wilton's Music Hall in Wapping later this year; and that the new production of George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy And Bess, directed by Trevor Nunn, will open at the Savoy Theatre in the autumn. The Rumour Machine grinds on.