News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 23rd November 2001

The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company is to return to its spiritual home at the Savoy Theatre with a season comprising two Gilbert and Sullivan classics, both of which received their first performances there in the 1880s. Iolanthe, directed by Martin Conner, will run from 19th February to 6th April, and The Yeomen Of The Guard, directed by Ian Talbot, will follow from 16th April to 8th June. The season is presented by Raymond Gubbay.

Demos & Closures: The struggle for survival by the Mermaid Theatre, which is under threat of demolition, has reached a decisive moment. The Corporation of London planning meeting to decide its fate will take place at 11am on 11th December at the Guildhall. A protest is planned outside organised by Save The Mermaid and the Save London's Theatres Campaign. It is still not too late to register objections to the proposal in writing to: Mr E V Rayment, Planning Department, Corporation of London, PO Box 270, London EC2P 2EJ.

Sam Mendes is to step down as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse at the end of next year, after a ten year stewardship, to pursue freelance film and theatre projects. Unconfirmed reports of his final production schedule include an extended American Imports season with Stephen Adly Guirgis Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train, with the original New York cast directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, which was seen at this year's Edinburgh Fringe, the story of someone on trial for murder struggling with what he has done, in a double bill with the world premiere of Frame 312 by Keith Reddin, about John F Kennedy's assassination, directed by Josie Rourke; Kenneth Lonergran's Lobby Hero, in which a security guard is drawn into a murder investigation; the West End premiere of David Auburn's Tony Award winning play Proof, about a mathematical genius seeking solutions to both life and equations, directed by John Madden; and the world premiere of Take Me Out by Richard Greenburg. This will be followed by Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and Twelfth Night running in repertoire, both starring Nicole Kidman and Simon Russell Beale, and directed by Mendes.

The Bat Theatre Company, one of the hardest hit of New York's studio theatres because if its downtown location, should see its fortunes improve with its next project opening in mid December. Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray will star in The Guys, a new play about the events of and following 11th September, by a mystery writer. BTC artistic director Jim Simpson will direct. The only clue to the author is that it is a woman who Simpson and Weaver encountered after the terrorist attacks, and that the play was written in the last few weeks.

Picasso's Women, a series of monologues by Brian McAvera, which presents contrasting portraits of the painter by women in his life, will open a regional tour at the Churchill Theatre Bromley in March. Produced with the West End in mind, it will star Jerry Hall, Cherie Lunghi and Gwen Taylor. The piece was seen at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2000 with Josie Lawrence, Susannah York and Toyah Wilcox.

The Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester has announced the second half of its 25th anniversary season. It comprises A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Lucy Bailey, from 6th March to 20th April; David Mamet's American Buffalo, starring Mike McShane, directed by Gregory Hersov, from 24th April to 18th May; Beaumarchais The Marriage Of Figaro, directed by Helena Kaut Howson, from 22nd May to 22nd June; and the world premiere of Sex, Chips And Rock 'N' Roll, a musical adapted by Debbie Horsfield from her television series set in '60s Manchester, with music by Mike Moran, directed by Marianne Elliott, from 26th June to 3rd August.

Paul Keating and Julie-Alanah Brighten star in a musical based on Thackeray's The Rose And The Ring at the Hens and Chickens Theatre from 4th December to 5th January. The book and lyrics are by Peter Morris, music by Michael Jeffrey, and the director is Lucy Skilbeck. It tells the story of two mythical kingdoms whose daily lives are disrupted by a magic rose and a magic ring that render anyone who possesses them irresistible to the opposite sex. The cast also includes Joanna Kirkland, Ben Caplan, Louisa McCarthy, Sally Bourne, James Wren, Oliver Senton, Andrew Prosser and Ben Heathcote. It is presented by Brave New World Productions.

David Wood's stage adaptation of Roald Dahl's BFG embarks on a 20th anniversary tour at Warwick Arts Centre from 1st December to 5th January, which will run until August. It is the story of young orphan who is whisked off to Giant Country by the 15ft BFG (Big Friendly Giant). Wood will direct Anthony Pedley (the original BFG) with Karen Briffett, Glen Hill, Anthony Hoggard, Verity Anne Meldrum, Carolyn Murray, Rebecca Rainsford and Grant Stimpson. The producer is Edward Snape for Fiery Angel.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's rarely produced musical Flower Drum Song, in a revised form by David Henry Hwang, currently playing an extended run at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, looks Broadway bound. The first major American production since the 1958 Broadway premiere stars Lea Salonga as a refugee from Communist China, who arrives in San Francisco's Chinatown, and finds a conflict between preserving her traditions and embracing the American way of life. Robert Longbottom directed and choreographed.

The spring season at Sadler's Wells Theatre has now been announced. It includes Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal's Masurca Fogo; the return of Caudra de Sevilla's Carmen; Random Dance Company premiering Nemesis, a mixed media piece by Wayne McGregor; Northern Ballet Theatre's Madame Butterfly; the percussion phenomenon Stomp; Ballet Preljocaj's The Rite Of Spring; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; Rambert Dance Company; Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan's Moon Water; Opera North's Sweeney Todd; Nederlands Dance Theater 1; Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre; and Pacific North West Ballet. Further information can be found on the Sadler's Wells web site via the link from the London Theatres section of TheatreNet.