News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd September 2005

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Judi Dench, Peter Bowles and Belinda Lang will star in Noel Coward's Hay Fever, directed by Peter Hall, opening at the Haymarket Theatre in April. One of the most iconic Coward plays, it is the story of a weekend at the country retreat of a bohemian actress, her writer husband, and their two adult children, all of whom behave extravagantly badly in front of their mystified house guests. The producer is Bill Kenwright.

Nominations have been announced for the Theatrical Management Association Awards, the only awards for excellence in regional theatre. Among the strongest contenders are Chichester Festival Theatre's How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying: Best Musical, Best Musical Performance - Joe McFadden and Annette McLaughlin - and Best Supporting Musical Performance - James Bolam and Beverley Klein; the Watermill Theatre Newbury's Mack And Mabel: Best Musical and Best Musical Performance - Anna Jane-Casey; the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre's Sex, Chips And Rock 'n' Roll: Best Musical and Best Supporting Musical Performance - Tracie Bennett; and the Crucible Theatre Sheffield's Lear: Best Director - Jonathan Kent and Best Play Performance - Ian McDiarmid, and Don Carlos: Best Director - Michael Grandage. The presentation ceremony, hosted by Nichola McAuliffe, will be on 23rd October 2005 at the Linbury Theatre in the Royal Opera House. The full list of nominees and further information can be found on the TMA web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Unicorn Theatre Company's 13m purpose built theatre for children, located on the south bank of the Thames near City Hall, will open its doors on 1st December. The building, designed by Keith Williams Architects, comprises the Weston Theatre, a 340 seat auditorium, the River Theatre, a 120 seat studio, an education centre, rehearsal space and cafe. The inaugural productions will be David Wood's adaptation of Philippa Pearce's novel Tom's Midnight Garden, in which a boy hears the grandfather clock strike thirteen, and when he investigates, discovers another world, directed by Tony Graham, and an interactive installation In The Box, about what it means to be a child today, directed by Alison Barry. The season will continue with Journey To The River Sea, about an orphan set adrift on a river in the middle of the jungle; Yikes!, a comedy musical for anyone who wants to be frightened silly; Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson's epic adventure retold by Andy Cannon and lain Johnstone; With A Doll In Her Pocket, featuring a talking doll and a witch who travels by pestle and mortar; and Play Antarctica, an installation by Craig Vear about his journey in Antarctica. There will be permanently low ticket prices of 12.50 for adults and 8.50 for children.

The Circus Space Cabaret is back, on various nights between Thursday and Sunday until November. Each bill is an eclectic mix of new circus, physical theatre, comedy and sometimes the just plain weird. Aerialists of all kinds swing over the audience - who provide a human safety net - and you never know what will happen next, except that it will be unusual. Among those to be featured will be Miss Behave, a multiple sword swallower, Tina C, the trashy Nashville singer, the first UK appearance of Victor and Katy, an award winning acrobatic duo, Bongo Boloero, a comedy adagio, and Donald Grant, the kilted diaboloist. Further information can be found on the Circus Space web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The first complete modern performance of Royer's opera Zaide, Reine de Grenade, from a new edition by Lionel Sawkins, will take place at St John's Smith Square on 15th October. It will feature Jeni Bern, Sophie Bevan, Mark Wilde, Daniel Auchincloss and Jacques Imbrailo, directed by Graham Caldbeck, with Nonsuch Singers and The Band Of Instruments. The dramatic triangle of passion, jealousy and fear (what else) involves two ancient warring families in Granada.

The Society Of London Theatre is looking for 14 enthusiastic and knowledgeable theatregoers to join one of the judging panels for next year's Laurence Olivier Awards. Panellists will receive a pair of free tickets for all shows playing in the West End between 1st January and 31st December. There are four panels assessing Theatre, Opera, Dance and Affiliates (covering work at the Almeida, Greenwich, Hampstead, Lyric Hammersmith, Royal Court Upstairs, Soho, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Tricycle). The Theatre panel is expected to attend about 60 play performances or 20 musicals, Opera and Affiliates about 20 each, and Dance about 40. Applications can be made online on the SOLT web site, which can be found via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet. Alternatively there are leaflets in all West End theatres. The deadline for applications is 12th November.

Zoe Lewis's new play Flanders Mare, with Keith Allen, Pandora Colin, Denise Gough, Nigel Hastings, Liam McKenna, Karl Stimpson, Natalie Walter and Duncan Wisbey, directed by Alan Cox, will play at the Sound Theatre, from 14th October to 5th November. Set in the court of Henry VIII, the play examines the pressures surrounding Holbein as he painted his famous portraits of Henry and Anne of Cleves, the title being derived from Henry's description of Anne.

As part of a festival celebrating the thousandth anniversary of the birth of Edward, King and Confessor, founder of Westminster Abbey, from 6th to 13th October, there will be two concerts of ancient music. Commemorating the links between the Abbey and Houses of Parliament, Numbered with thy Saints: festal music by Handel and Purcell, with the Choir of Westminster Abbey and St James's Baroque, will take place at 7pm on 6th October in Westminster Hall, Palace of Westminster. Celebrating Edward's life and sainthood, A Kindly and Guileless King: words and music to honour Edward the Confessor, with Ensemble Gilles Binchois and readings by Andy Orchard, will take place at 7.30pm on Tuesday 11th October in Westminster Abbey. Other events include a Pageant of St Edward, performed by pupils from The Grey Coat Hospital, Westminster City School, and Westminster School. Further information can be found on the Edward the Confessor Festival web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Simon Russell Beale will replace Tim Curry as King Arthur in the musical Spamalot on Broadway in December; that Nicole Kidman will return to the West End next year as Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, directed by Daniel Kramer; that Iain Glen will lead a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible in the next Stratford season; and that Sinatra, a multimedia recreation of a Frank Sinatra concert will play a limited run at the London Palladium in the new year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.