News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th March 2006

The Edinburgh International Festival has announced the programme for this year's festival, running from 13th August to 3rd September, for which booking opens on 8th April. Theatre highlights include the world premiere of Realism, written and directed by Anthony Neilson; Troilus And Cressida, directed by Peter Stein; Long Life, a play without words that follows one day in the lives of retired people living in a communal block in Latvia, directed by Alvis Hermanis; and Platform, adapted and directed by Calixto Bieito, from Michel Houellebecq's novel about a French civil servant's voyage of self-discovery as a tourist in Thailand. Opera highlights include the world premiere of The Assassin Tree, music by Stuart MacRae and libretto by Simon Armitage, directed by Emio Greco and Pieter C Scholten; and Opera National de Lyon productions of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Lindbergh Flight/The Flight Over the Ocean and The Seven Deadly Sins, directed by Francois Girard; and Tchaikovsky's Mazeppa, directed by Peter Stein. Dance highlights include the British premiere of Balanchine's Don Quixote; and the British debut of Brazilian Bruno Beltrao and his company Grupo de Rua de Niteroi. Music highlights include Simon Rattle conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker, and Charles Mackerras conducting all of Beethoven's nine symphonies. Further information can be found on the EIF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Michael Frayn's comedy Donkeys' Years, starring Mark Addy, Samantha Bond, James Dreyfus, David Haig, Jonathan Coy, Edward Petherbridge and Michael Simkins, directed by Jeremy Sams, will open at the Comedy Theatre on 9th May. When six former students meet at a reunion dinner at their old university college 25 years after they graduated old friendships and feuds resurface. The producers are Sonia Friedman Productions, Tulbart Productions, Boyett/Ostar, Michael Linnit, Lee Menzies and TEG Productions.

English National Opera has announced its 2006/2007 season at the London Coliseum, which will finally see the much trailed premiere of Gadaffi, a bio-opera about the Libyan leader, music by Steve Chandra Savale of Asian Dub Foundation, and libretto by Shan Khan, featuring performers JC001 and Riz Ahmed, directed by David Freeman. Other new productions will be Verdi's La Traviata, directed Conall Morrison; Janacek's Jenufa, directed by David Alden; Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro, directed by Olivia Fuchs; Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers, directed by Martin Duncan; Handel's Agrippina, directed by David McVicar; Kismet, book by Charles Lederer, music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest, directed by Gary Griffin; the UK premiere of Philip Glass's Satyagraha, about the life of Mahatma Gandhi, performed in Sanskrit, directed by Phelim McDermott; and Benjamin Britten's Death In Venice, directed by Deborah Warner. There will be revivals of Puccini's La Boheme, Mozart's La Clemenza Di Tito and Leonard Bernstein-Betty Comden-Adolf Green's On The Town.

On The Casting Couch: Rebecca Thornhill, John Owen-Jones, David Burt, Jenny Galloway and Mark Coles will lead the cast of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's Show Boat, at the Royal Albert Hall, from 10th to 25th June; and Sean Chapman, Jack Davenport, Amanda Drew, Amanda Root, Stephen Noonon, Patrick Godfrey and Jodie Whittaker will star in Gorky's Enemies opening at the Almeida Theatre on 11th May.

Diana Rigg, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Donald Sinden, Martin Jarvis, Patrick Malahide, Alex Kingston, Peter Bowles and Peter Hall are among the 18 signatories to a letter published in The Times calling for the Theatre Museum in Covent Garden to be saved from closure. Its owner, the Victoria & Albert Museum, has not been able to raise the 12m needed for a proposed redevelopment, after the Heritage Lottery Fund turned down two grant applications, and has intimated that it may transfer the collection to its main building in South Kensington. The letter said it was "astonishing" that the Theatre Museum's future will be decided "without adequate consultation with either museum users or theatre practitioners" and continued "This museum plays a major role in increasing the enjoyment, understanding and study of the history, craft and practice of the performing arts in Britain."

Brits On Broadway: The world premiere of David Hare's The Vertical Hour, about how western life has changed since the attack on the World Trade Center, starring Julianne Moore as a war correspondent turned academic, directed by Sam Mendes, will be in New York, on 30th November. The producers will be Scott Rudin, Robert Fox and Neal Street Productions.

The 29th London Handel Festival runs from 30th March to 18th May, with highlights including: the London premiere of Judas Maccabaeus in the version attributed to Mozart, a concert performance with Fflur Wyn and Andrew Kennedy; a fully staged performance of Tolomeo, in collaboration with English Touring Opera, with Patricia Orr, Katherine Manley, Kostas Smoriginas, Laura Mitchell and Christopher Ainslie; the premiere of Messyah, Paul Ayres's contemporary reworking of the oratorio, with the Queldryk Chamber Choir; and the Bach St John Passion. Events are mainly at St George's Church Hanover Square (best known as setting for the celebration of Alfred Doolittle's nuptials in My Fair Lady) plus the Foundling Museum, the Britten Theatre and Recital Hall at the Royal College of Music, and the Handel House Museum. Further information can be found on the LHF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

And Finally . . . Having already scheduled an alternative Christmas production in the Theatre, with Mark Ravenhill's version of Dick Whittington, the Barbican has now announced the alternative to the alternative in The Pit with The Class Club. The 'dinner-tainment' (that's a meal plus show), presented by Duckie, will be an interactive event that lets the audience choose their class - lower, middle or upper - and be charged (and served) accordingly. It will be devised by Ursula Martinez, Vito Rocco, Jane Devoy and Mark Whitelaw with chef Tom Norrington-Davies.