News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th March 2005

The Old Vic Theatre is reprising its weekend fundraising marathon The 24 Hour Play, when works are written, rehearsed and performed within 24 hours. As before, six teams of writers, actors, directors and producers will each create a 10 minute play, beginning work at 8.30pm on Saturday 18th June, and performing at 7.30pm the following evening. This year however there is a twist. In addition to the all star version, there will also be 24 Hour Play: New Voices, aimed at new theatre writers, actors, directors and producers, aged between 18 and 25 years and living within Greater London, who are also committed to a professional career in theatre. A pool of 100 will be chosen from the initial applicants, which after further assessment will be reduced to 50 participants. They will then have the opportunity to attend workshops, and see how the professionals go through the process. Finally, they will be split into teams and try it themselves on the weekend of 30th/31st July. All participants should have professional experience in their chosen field, and applications must received buy 22nd April. Full details and an application form can be found on the Old Vic web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Gate Theatre Dublin's premiere production of Brian Friel's play The Home Place, starring Tom Courtenay, and directed by Adrian Noble, will transfer to the Comedy Theatre, opening on 25th May. Set in rural Ireland in 1878, in a household where father and son are in love with their housekeeper, the serene life is threatened by the arrival of an English relative. The remaining members of the Dublin cast, Hugh O'Conor, Derbhle Crotty and Nick Dunning, are expected to continue in their roles.

The spring season at the Watford Palace Theatre includes: Flying Under Bridges, by Sarah Daniels, adapted from the novel by Sandi Toksvig, about life in a sleepy home counties village getting out of hand, with Patricia Gannon, Julia Hills, Anthony Kernan, Julie Legrand, Neil McCaul and Daniel Pirrie, directed by Joyce Brannagh, from 6th April; Darren Day in a new musical version of Bill Naughton's Alfie, the iconic 1960s character, who takes full advantage of the sexual revolution, but ultimately begins to wonder what his life is all about, with music by John Cameron, and book and lyrics by Eden Phillips, directed by Lawrence Till, with choreography by Nick Winston, from 1st June; and Ian Kershaw's comedy Get Ken Barlow, about two soap opera mad brothers who hatch a kidnap plot to publicise their failing business, from 29th June.

The next production at the Royal Court Theatre will be Roland Schimmelpfennig's The Woman Before, translated by David Tushingham, and directed by Richard Wilson, opening on 17th May. A man is confronted by a woman he doesn't recognise, who says she's his wife, and reminds him of a promise made 20 years earlier. This will be followed by the Out Of Joint production Talking To Terrorists, a documentary piece collated by Robin Soans from interviews with terrorists drawn from Africa, Israel, Turkey, Iraq and Ireland and Britain, attempting to understand what drives them to take extreme actions, directed by Max Stafford Clark, opening on 4th July. The cast, who play 24 roles, includes Chipo Chung, Chris Ettridge, Alexander Hanson, Lloyd Hutchinson, Catherine Russell, Christopher Ryman and June Watson.

This year's season at Grange Park Opera, one of the 'alternative Glyndebournes', runs from 6th June to 5th July, with further performances at Neville Holt from 9th to 17th July. It comprises Mozart's Don Giovanni, with Stephanie Krahnefeld, Natasha Marsh, Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks, George Mosley, Henry Waddington, Franck Lopez and Susanna Andersson, directed by Daniel Slater; Donizetti's Maria Stuarda, with Majella Cullagh, Janis Kelly, Adrian Dwyer, Jonathan Best and Quentin Hayes, directed by Stephen Langridge; Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, with Nicholas Sharratt, Freddie Tong, James Mcoran-Campbell and Claire Bessant, directed by Martin Constantine; and Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, directed and choreographed by Craig Revell-Horwood. Further information can be found on the GPO web site via the link from Dance & Opera in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Peter Brook, Michael Kustow's biography of the leading theatre director of the twentieth century, recently published by Bloomsbury to coincide with his 80th birthday, brings together Brook's experiences working in England, France and America. It is based on Kustow's friendship and collaboration with Brook of more than forty years, together with extensive interviews with Brook, and many of his actors, backers and fellow directors, including Glenda Jackson, Paul Schofield and Peter Hall. In charting his remarkable life journey, Kustow goes to the heart of Brook's theatre, which has produced a succession of innovative landmark productions, in his search for truth, and his unceasing desire to produce wholly original work.

The spring season at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond includes: Alan Franks's Previous Convictions, about an idealistic aid worker who returns to England after nearly twenty years in South America, to find a country and a family altered beyond recognition, with Michael Shaw, Auriol Smith, James Woolley and Octavia Walters, directed by Michael Napier Brown, from 6th April; and Private Fears In Public Places, written and directed by Alan Aycbourn, a tale of the misheard, the unspoken and the sadly misunderstood, as six people, leading six separate lives, are strangely linked by circumstance, with Melanie Gutteridge, Paul Kemp, Adrian McLoughlin, Alexandra Mathie, Sarah Moyle and Paul Thornley, from 5th May.

English National Ballet returns to the Royal Albert Hall with its in the round production of Romeo And Juliet, choreographed by Derek Deane, from 15th to 25th June. The show features a company of 120 dancers, actors and swordfighters. It is presented by Raymond Gubbay.

The Theatre Royal Haymarket's Masterclass season for young people who have an interest in theatre, or are keen to pursue a career in the arts, continues through April, featuring the following masters of their arts: actor Claire Higgins, writer Victoria Wood, and director Nancy Meckler. Sessions begin at 2.30pm and last around two hours. Events are open to people aged between 17 and 30, and are free of charge - but there is a refundable deposit required confirming the booking. Those aged over 30 who would like to attend can now subscribe to a Friends scheme. Further information and online booking can be found on the Theatre Royal Haymarket web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Francesca Zambello will direct the Metropolitan Opera's world premiere production of Tobias Picker's An American Tragedy, based on Theodore Dreiser's epic 1920s novel, with a libretto by Gene Scheer, which will open at Lincoln Center in New York on 2nd December. Partially drawing on real events, it examines the downside of the American dream, grimly charting a young man's pitiful rise and fall as he pursues empty ambitions to wealth, power and satisfaction. The cast will include Patricia Racette, Susan Graham, Nathan Gunn, Dolora Zajick, and Jennifer Larmore.

The Rumour Machine says: that Bill Bailey and Alan Davies will star in Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, opening at the Edinburgh Fringe and then heading to the West End; and that Leslie Ash and Sarah Lancashire will star in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, a stage adaptation of Robert Aldrich's 1962 film based on Henry Farrell's novel, (not Michael Rose's long awaited production of the musical version). The Rumour Machine grinds on.