News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th May 2002

Scottish comedy enthusiasts can enter a competition run by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society to fill one of the three civilian places on the judging panel for the Perrier Awards. Anyone who thinks they can cope with 200 hours of comedy in the middle two weeks of August can apply to join the seven industry professional to choose the winners of the 22nd season of the UK's premier comedy awards. The winner will receive accommodation, travel expenses, a goody bag and free tickets for all the comedy events they can survive. Full details of how to take part can be found on the Edinburgh Fringe web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! The previously mention production of Anthony Shaffer's modern classic thriller Sleuth, with Peter Bowles and Gray O'Brien, will open at the Apollo Theatre on 9th July. Elijah Moshinsky directs, and the producer is Bill Kenwright.

Once again British talent features in American awards, this time the National Broadway Theatre Awards, which are for national touring productions. They include: Best Musical and Best Visual Presentation - Tim Rice and Elton John's Aida, designed by Bob Crowley; Best Play - Michael Frayn's Copenhagen; and Best Score and Best Song - Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer's Les Miserables.

The D'Oyly Carte Opera Company is to continue in its spiritual home of the Savoy Theatre. Ian Judge's production of The Mikado is returning from 27th June to 14th September, with Jasper Carrott as Ko Ko. The operetta received its premiere at the Savoy in 1885, taking advantage of the rage at the time for all things Japanese, with an entirely English story in an oriental setting.

Longborough Festival Opera, one of the 'alternative Glyndebournes', will feature two complete cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen, previously seen as individual productions, in this year's season running from 7th June to 20th July. It comprises the acclaimed shortened version prepared for the Birmingham City Opera by Jonathan Dove and Graham Vick of Wagner's Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, Siegfried and Götterdammerung all directed by Alan Privett; plus Verdi's La Traviata directed by Richard Studer; and a new production of Mozart's The Magic Flute also directed by Alan Privett. Further information can be found on the LFO web site via the link from the Dance, Opera, Orchestra & Choirs section of TheatreNet.

As previously forecast here, the musical Fame will reinforce its position as the holder of the West End's Most Travelled Production title by moving to the Aldwych Theatre on 4th September. The show tells the story of the 'next generation' of students at New York High School of Performing Arts after those featured in Alan Parker's film and the subsequent television series. Conceived by David De Silva, the book is by Jose Fernandez, music by Steve Margoshes, and lyrics by Jacques Levy. The show first opened at the Cambridge in June 1995 and has been in, out and roundabout the West End since then.

Ken Campbell is bringing a show called Children Of Bishu to the Little Angel Theatre in Islington from 4th to 29th June, as a fundraiser to help stave off its closure. The oldest and most respected puppet theatre in Britain has been forced to cease performances of its own shows due to lack of funding. Campbell will present 'evenings of unrivalled excess and miraculous mayhem', with no two evenings being the same. The shows will variously include previous collaborators Jud Charlton, Nina Conti, Josh Darcy, Neil Edmond, Jacqueline Haigh, Mouse, Nick Murza, Irving Rappaport, Susan Tracy, and others.

Nicholas Hawkesmoor's Christ Church hosts the 26th Spitalfields Festival from 10th to 28nd June, with further events in The Spitz, Bevis Marks synagogue, Wilton's Music Hall, and Spitalfields Market. The programme features a wide range of music from medieval to the newly commissioned. Performers include soloists such as Michael Chance, Gary Cooper and Melvyn Tan; instrumental groups from the Dante Quartet and the Schubert Ensemble to the City of London Sinfonia, and vocal ensembles from The Cardinall's Musick and the Hilliard Ensemble to BBC Singers and St John's College, Cambridge. Once again, in addition to the lunchtime and evening concerts, there are a series of free early evening rush hour events featuring leading young performers and composers. All this plus fringe events, walks, talks and exhibitions about the Spitalfields area and the restoration of Christ Church, one of the great baroque churches of Europe. Full details can be found on the Spitalfields Festival web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Tony N' Tina's Wedding, the interactive comedy experience which is second longest running Off Broadway show in history, is taking to the water. Tony has been marrying Tina nightly since 1988 at various venues, with audiences joining the service and reception, trying to figure out who are the actors and who are the "real" people. Throughout the summer on Saturday nights the nuptials will take place on a party boat circling Manhattan - and twice nightly too. Is that bigamy? It's big of both of 'em!

The Rumour Machine says: that Mel Brooks musical The Producers, which set new Broadway records with a regular ticket price of $100 (and a further last minute scalper special of $480), is considering a West End barrier smashing price of £50; that Malcolm McLaren is developing a stage musical of the film The Servant, which was adapted by Harold Pinter from Robin Maugham's novel; and that Urinetown, the off beat Off Broadway musical with the off putting title that became a big Broadway hit, will arrive in London next year, with its satirical story of a future society where water is scarce and its consumption and use in toilets is controlled by an evil corporation. (Do you suppose that rings any bells with Ben Elton?). The Rumour Machine grinds on.

And Finally . . . You might think that the rise of online booking would have put paid to scalping, because of the easy of availability reputable ticket sources. You would expect the shifty looking individuals with mobile phones pacing anxiously in front of the theatres (no, the ticket touts not the producers) to have become a thing of the past. Apparently quite the reverse is the case, and there has been an explosion of web scalping. Egged on by the headlong rush to London by Hollywood names, dozens of 'toutsRus.co.uk' style web sites have sprung up offering tickets to Proof for £199 - an 800% mark up - and Up For Grabs at £400. The added risk in online scalping is that there may not even be a ticket in the end. So remember the rules. It is not illegal to add a service charge to the price of a ticket, but the original face value must be shown. Reputable ticket agents will not add a charge of more than 25% and will belong to the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers. Inform the Society Of London Theatre if you encounter problems. The STAR and SOLT web sites can be found via links from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.