News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd August 2002

Michael Grandage's first season as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse will comprise: Francesca Annis and Chjwetel Ejiofor in Noel Coward's The Vortex, a story about a middle aged woman having an affair with a younger man, and her drug addict son, directed by Grandage, from 10th December to 15th February; Dario Fo's agit prop classic about police corruption The Accidental Death Of An Anarchist, in a new translation by Simon Nye, directed by Robert Delamere, from 26th February to 19th April; Michael Sheen as Albert Camus's Caligula, about the Roman Emperor, in a new translation by David Greig, directed by Grandage from 30th April to 14th June; and a remounting of last year's Chicago Shakespeare Company production of the Stephen Soldheim-John Weidman musical Pacific Overtures, about the Westernisation of Japan, directed by Gary Griffin, with some of the original cast, from 30th June to 23rd August.

The Fringe venue Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate has staged a coup by securing the British premiere of Neil Simon's London Suite. Starring Christopher Cazenove, Gay Lambert, Colin Starkey, Gailie Morrison and Mark Underwood it opens on 4th September, prior to an international tour. It is Simon's third group of contrasting one act comedies set in a hotel room, following Plaza Suite located in New York, and California Suite located in Los Angeles. The director is Alexander Holt, and it is presented in London by Tenth Planet Productions.

The nine finalists in The Global Search For New Musicals have been announced. Six are from America, two from England, and one from Wales, with subjects ranging from Jason and the Argonauts, to Bram Stoker's quest to persuade Henry Irving to play Dracula. Excerpts will be showcased in triple bills during the International Festival of Musical Theatre in Cardiff from 13th October to 3rd November. The festival will also include performances of Exit Allan, a new work by Richard Stilgoe and Jeremy James Taylor, Clive Rowe in Sadly Solo Joe by Paul Ryan and Peter Readman, and the European premiere of Terence McNally-Stephen Flaherty-Lyn Ahrens Ragtime The Musical. Further information can be found on the IFMT web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The current touring production of Yasmina Reza's Life x 3 is to play a short season at the Savoy Theatre from on 1st October, as the jam in a D'Oyly Carte sandwich, of the current The Mikado and the forthcoming HMS Pinafore. It stars Serena Evans, David Haig, Belinda Lang and David Yelland and is directed by Matthew Warchus. Translated by Christopher Hampton, the play offers three versions of what happens/might happen when a couple arrive for a dinner party 24 hours early. Greg Ripley-Dugan presents the National Theatre production.

European producer Stage Holding, rumoured to be bringing the Tony Award winning Broadway musical Urinetown to London next spring, has made a major European acquisition. It has taken over the interests of Stella AG, the insolvent producer and theatre operator, which had been the principal continental producer of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Disney shows. Stage Holding has thus acquired four theatres in Germany, and four upcoming major productions: the European premiere of the Broadway musical Titanic, Mamma Mia! and revivals of Cats and The Phantom Of The Opera. The company is also expanding in New York, having acquired a former Loews cinema on the west side of Manhattan, which it intends to convert into a five venue Off Broadway complex, opening next year. As far as London is concerned, Stage Holding is rumoured to be aiming to increase the profitability of the shows it intends to produce by raising seat prices.

Pete Postlethwaite will play a four week London season of Scaramouche Jones, the previously mentioned one man show by Justin Butcher, at the Riverside Studios from 25th September. The bizarre, comic, epic and tragic tale is set on millennium eve, as a clown about to give his final performance reflects on his life, stripping away his seven comic masks and revealing what lies within. Rupert Goold directed the show which premiered at the Dublin Theatre Festival, and has been on an extensive regional tour.

The autumn season at the Lyric Hammersmith comprises: the Kneehigh Theatre production of Hans Anderson's The Red Shoes, about a girl who puts on a pair of red shoes and can't stop dancing, adapted and directed by Emma Rice, from 18th September to 5th October; the only British performances of Ex-Machina's La Casa Azul starring and written by Sophie Faucher, from the writings of painter Frida Kahlo, translated by Neil Bartlett, and directed by Robert Lepage, from 11th to 26th October; Frantic Assembly's Peepshow, by Isabel Wright, with songs by Lamb, drawing inspiration from music videos to tell the stories of seven individuals in a city, directed by Steven Hoggett and Scott Graham, from 6th to 23rd November; Tim Pigott-Smith in A Christmas Carol, adapted and directed by Neil Bartlett, from 29th November to 4th January; and Pilot Theatre Company's new version of Road by Jim Cartwright, a story of lost souls, repressed dreams and the desire to escape, directed by Marcus Romer, from 15th January to 1st February.

The MCC Theatre is moving from its 28th Street home to inaugurate the Acorn Theater, part of the new Theater Row Complex on 42nd Street, on 18th December with Sigourney Weaver in the world premiere of The Mercy Seat, written and directed by Neil LaBute. The two hander explores an affair between a married man and an older woman following the events of 11th September. Weaver also starred in the premiere of The Guys, the first '9/11' inspired drama, directed by her husband Jim Simpson for the downtown Bat Theatre Company last December. The remainder of the season is made up by: Brian Murray in Scattergood by Anto Howard, about a contemporary student attempting to live by the rules of chivalry, directed by Doug Hughes; and Intrigue With Faye by Kate Robin, a writer/producer on the television show Six Feet Under, about a couple who videotape each other to test their trust, directed by Jim Simpson.

The current touring production of Grease will open at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 2nd October. It is the recent Bee Gees enhanced version of Warren Jacobs and Jim Casey's classic '50's high school musical, directed by David Gilmore and choreographed by Arlene Phillips. Casting is unknown at the moment, as by October the existing leads will be 'helping other directors with their productions'. The producers are Paul Nicholas and David Ian.

And Finally . . . If you've always wanted to run away and join the circus, Cirque du Soliel is now casting for eight current productions and two new creations, with auditions in London from 3rd to 13th October. Further information can be found on the Cirque web site via the Shows section of TheatreNet.