News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd July 2004

The Society Of London Theatre is presenting the seventh Kids Week in the West End, designed to introduce young people to the theatregoing experience with thousands of free tickets and special events. This year it has double the fun, as it is extended to a fortnight, running from 20th August to 3rd September. Children between 5 and 16 can go free (when accompanied by a paying adult) to over 25 West End shows, with up to two additional children at half price. For the first time, 16 to 19 year olds can participate, with a buy one get one free deal, and the under 5s can also join in with special activities. Over 35 accompanying events will be taking place during the two weeks, including backstage tours, workshops, classes, storytelling and 'meet the cast' opportunities. There are also discounts at restaurants, and on travel and accommodation packages. Booking opens at 12noon on 28th July. Further information can be found on the Kids Week web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Kim Cattrall is to star in Brian Clark's Whose Life Is It Anyway?, directed by Peter Hall, opening at the Duke Of York's Theatre on 25th January. The leading character is an artist, who is quadriplegic laying in a hospital bed after a road accident, and the play debates the question of voluntary euthanasia. Clark has revised his piece in the light of medical advances since it was first staged in 1978. Although written for a male lead, Clark reworked it for a female during its original Broadway run. The producers are Sonia Friedman and Mark Rubinstein.

The troubled Hampstead Theatre has announced its autumn productions. Crispin Whittell's Darwin In Malibu, with Oliver Ford Davies, Douglas Henshall and Nigel Planer, directed by Robert Delamere, plays from 22nd September to 16th October. It is a comedy about life and death, love and loss, which explores what might happen if Charles Darwin were to find himself in contemporary Malibu, along with Thomas Huxley and the Bishop of Oxford. The world premiere of Nick Stafford's Love Me Tonight, featuring Linda Bassett, and directed by Kathy Burke, runs from 28th October to 20th November. It is a tragi-comedy that tells the story of what happens when a family faced with disaster is forced to confront the truth about itself. In addition, there will be an International Writers Play Readings week, running from 20th to 26th September, with work by playwrights from Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Canada and America, as well as Britain.

It's Official! As previously forecast here Dan Wasserman's adaptation of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest starring Christian Slater, Frances Barber, Mackenzie Crook and Adrian Hope, will transfer from the Edinburgh Fringe to the Gielgud Theatre on 7th September. However, director Guy Masterson has withdrawn during rehearsals, and a replacement has yet to be confirmed. It tells the story of a gambler who has faked psychosis to avoid jail, but finds that life in a mental hospital is worse than he bargained for. The producers are Nica Burns for Theatreshare, Max Weitzenhoffer and Ian Lenagan.

Online auction house Cooper Owen is holding an At The Movies sale on eBay Live Auctions on 28th July. Among the lots are two signed Marilyn Monroe photographs; an original Planet Of The Apes costume and mannequin; a Dorothy costume from The Wizard Of Oz; Desmond Llewellyn's passport, used during 10 years as Q in Bond films; and a host of photographs, posters, props and other autographed items by film stars from the 1930s to the present day, including both Gracie and WC Fields, plus Harry Potter and Dr Who. The catalogue can be viewed on the CO web site, which can be found via the link from The Emporium section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, though the Divas are no longer at the Donmar, four solo shows under the banner Singular Sensations will play a six week season at the Haymarket Theatre from 7th September. Barbara Cook will make a swift return to the West End from 7th to 11th September, pianist and singer Michael Feinstein will take over from 13th to 25th September, Michael Ball will follow him from 27th September to 9th October, and a further singer, still to be announced, will complete the season from 11th to 16th October.

Out Of Joint will open a tour of Macbeth, performing generally in non traditional theatre spaces, with a production that locates the action in a contemporary African state, directed by Max Stafford Clark, opening on 10th September at Red Brick Mill in Batley. It features Danny Sapani and Monica Dolan, with Jotham Annan, Sidney Cole, Kevin Harvey, Kwaku Ankomah, Nicole Charles, Chu Omambala, Ben Onwukwe, Chris Ryman and Susan Salmon.

MCC Theatre, the Off Broadway company known for bringing darker works to the stage, will take up residence at the famous Lucille Lortel Theater for their next season, which will include two new plays. Bryony Lavery's comedy Last Easter, about a dying woman whose best friends take her on a journey from London to Lourdes to bless her in the holy waters, directed by Doug Hughes, will play from 15th September to 23rd October. Neil LaBute's Fat Pig, about a man who falls in love with an overweight woman, but begins to rethink his feelings when others ridicule her, will run from 17th November to 8th January.

For the fourth year running Ross Noble is transferring his Edinburgh Fringe show to the West End. His latest stream of consciousness extravaganza Noodlemeister will run at the Apollo Theatre from 7th September to 2nd October.

As well as Snow White, and other daytime performances, Norwich Puppet Theatre is running an extensive programme of children's workshops during the summer holidays. These cover the making and manipulation of all kinds of puppets, including shadow, rod, glove and marionette, plus clay modelling and masks. Further information can be found on the NPT web site via the link from the Regional Theatres section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Laura Michelle Kelly, Gavin Lee, David Haig, Linzi Hateley, Rosmarie Ashe, Jenny Galloway, Julia Sutton, Kevin Williams and Gerard Carey will lead the cast of Mary Poppins, opening at the Prince Edward Theatre on 15th December.

Rosemary Leach is to star in the second regional tour of The Shell Seekers, by Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham, adapted form the novel by Rosamunde Pilcher, directed by David Taylor, from September. It is a saga of three generations, moving between the Second World War and the present day, which is sparked into life when the matriarch discovers the true value of a family painting, and her children want to sell it to gain their inheritance, even if this tears the family apart.

The Scoop, the open air amphitheatre space next to City Hall, the Greater London Assembly building on the south bank opposite the Tower of London, is staging a second season of free performances from 29th July until 5th September. This year there are two productions playing in repertoire, Aeschylus's Agamemnon, translated by Kenneth McLeish and Frederic Raphael, about the welcome the hero receives on his return from the Trojan War, and George Bernard Shaw's 'philosophical farce about early Christianity' Androcles And The Lion, both directed by Phil Willmott. Shows are on Thursdays at 6.30pm, Fridays at 9pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 3.30pm and 9pm. There is no need to book - just turn up and sit down. The producers are Suzanna Rosenthal and The Steam Industry.