News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th February 2006

Chichester Festival Theatre has announced its first summer season under the direction of Jonathan Church, running from 5th May to 1st October. In the Festival Theatre: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's musical Carousel, the doomed love story of a naive mill worker and a glamorous but unreliable roustabout, directed by Angus Jackson, with choreography by Javier De Frutos; David Edgar's two part adaptation of Charles Dickens's The Life And Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby , directed by Jonathan Church and Philip Franks; the world premiere of Richard Everett's Entertaining Angels, with Penelope Keith as a Vicar's widow who decides she no longer needs to be on her best behaviour, directed by Alan Strachan; and Howard Brenton and David Hare's Pravda, a satire on the power of Fleet Street press barons in the 1980s, directed by Jonathan Church. In the Minerva Theatre: Terence Rattigan's In Praise Of Love, about a wife who conceals her incurable disease from her husband, although he knows but does not think she does; Noel Coward's one act plays Tonight At 8.30, in two triple bills, directed by Lucy Bailey; Mike Poulton's adaptation of August Strindberg's The Father, in which a wife hints that her husband may not be her daughter's father and then both parents bid to control the daughter's future, directed by Angus Jackson; and the Chichester Festival Youth Theatre promenade production of Grimm Tales, adapted by Carol Ann Duffy, and dramatised by Tim Supple.

The touring production of the musical Whistle Down The Wind, with book Patricia Knop, music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and lyrics by Jim Steinman, will play a season at the Palace Theatre from 28th March to 12th August, prior to the arrival of Monty Python's Spamalot. The story, adapted from Mary Hayley Bell's novel, relocated to an American setting, is of three children who discover an escaped criminal hiding in a barn on their farm and think that he is Jesus Christ. This production, featuring Tim Rogers and Claire Marlowe, is directed and produced by Bill Kenwright, with choreography by Henry Metcalfe.

At The Casting Round Table: London will see the same Royal accession as Broadway when Monty Python's Spamalot makes its West End debut. Tim Curry will play King Arthur when the show opens opens at the Palace Theatre on 17th October, with Simon Russell Beale succeeding him in the role in January. The company will also include Hannah Waddingham, David Birrell, Tom Goodman-Hill and Robert Hands.

The spring season at Finborough Theatre includes the UK premiere of Jim Nolan's Blackwater Angel, the story of a 17th century man, who apparently had the ability to heal through touch, besieged by people in search of cures, with Sean Campion, Fiona O'Shaughnessy, Stephen Cavanagh, Kevin Colson, Riona Kearney, Aaron McCusker, Vicky Oden, Laura Pyper, Joseph Rye and Catherine Walker, directed by Mark Giesser, from 2nd to 25th March; Bill C Davis's Mass Appeal, about a confrontation between a conservative catholic priest and an idealistic young seminarian, with Kevin Colson and Brendan Patricks, directed by Drew Ackroyd, from 30th March to 22nd April; and John Galsworthy's Loyalties, an examination of religion, class, ethics, prejudice and honour in the aftermath of the First World War, directed by Phill Willmott, from 27th April to 20th May.

Fanny Kemble The Reluctant Celebrity by Rebecca Jenkins, recently published by Pocket Books, captures the two disparate lives of the Victorian actress who was the youngest member of the Kemble theatrical dynasty. It paints a vivid picture of her time as the toast of the West End, when her debut as Juliet saved Covent Garden from bankruptcy, and catapulted her to international celebrity. As a result she toured America, where she met and married a man whose fortune was derived from a slave plantation, and her shock at discovering the conditions there, prompted her to campaign for the abolition of slavery. It is a unique combination of Georgian theatre, transatlantic relations and Victorian political issues.

Dirty Dancing, the 'play with music' adapted from the 1987 film by screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein, about a romance between a rich visitor and a working class dance instructor in an upmarket American holiday camp in the 1960s, will receive its UK premiere at the Aldwych Theatre on 24th October. The show had its world premiere in Sydney in 2004, directed by Mark Wing-Davey. The producers are Jacobsen Entertainment and Karl Sydow in association with Lion Gate Films and Magic Hour Productions.

The Churchill Theatre Bromley is hosting the start of two regional tours in the coming months. A stage version of Stuart Little, E B White's tale of a mouse who lives with a human family (including a cat) in New York, adapted by Joseph Robinette, opens on 15th March; and Strangers On A Train, Patricia Highsmith's psychological thriller about two men who meet on a train and strike a bargain to commit an unsolvable murder for each other, adapted by Craig Warner, starring Colin Baker, Leah Bracknell, Alex Ferns, Anita Harris and Will Thorp, directed by Robin Herford, opens on 27th April.

The Palace Theatre Watford's spring season includes the premieres of Stewart Permutt's comedy One Last Card Trick, about a group of women who meet to play cards in the basement of a synagogue and barricade themselves in to protest about the sale of the building, with Amanda Boxer, Avril Elgar, Gillian Hanna and Debra Penny, directed by Lawrence Till and Stefan Escreet, from 2nd to 18th March; and The Imposter, freely adapted from Moliere's Tartuffe by Shon Dale-Jones, in which a con man attempts to deceive a wealthy family with a show of piety, from 3rd to 8th April, launching a regional tour, a co-production with Hoipolloi.

The Rumour Machine says: that novelist Ian McEwan is writing the libretto and Michael Berkeley the music for a contemporary opera about a fictional composer (his 1998 Booker prize winning novel was about a writer and composer who enter into a euthanasia pact); and that English National Opera's next venture into the world of musical theatre will be Kismet, the Arabian Nights inspired show that features the music of Russian composer Alexander Borodin. The Rumour Machine grinds on.