News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th July 1998

Chichester Festival Theatre is back in its stride, with Joe Orton's Loot, the opening production from the Minerva studio season, transferring to the Vaudeville Theatre on 12th August. This was the first time a work by Orton had been presented in Chichester. A black farce, with an extremely complicated plot involving stolen money and a dead body, it was the play that established Orton as a major writer. The ensemble company (that's no names to you and me) is directed by David Grindley, and presented by Paul Farrah.

Comedian, and now comic actor, Lee Evans is returning to the West End with his one man show - more jumping up and down and rolling around on the floor, than merely "stand up". Evans will be at the Apollo Theatre from 14th September to 21st November, in his first London appearance since the sell out season at the Lyric two years ago. This completes his current tour, presented by Off The Kerb Productions and VVL.

Further information from the Wyndham Report on British theatre, commissioned by the Society Of London Theatre and published last week. In 1997, West End theatregoers spent 433m on restaurants, hotels, transport and merchandise, while at 11,466,248, the total number of admissions was three times that of the 13 Greater London league football teams. The report highlights the fact that lack of support by national and local government, for regional and national theatre companies, is causing the industry structural damage, and adversely affecting the development of new writers and plays. It calls for a simplifying of the tax structure surrounding investment in commercial productions, to encourage new investors and producers to become involved.

The "musical" Boogie Nights, featuring Shane Richie, Lisa Maxwell and Richard Calkin, which has been touring for some months, will open at the Savoy Theatre on 20th October. Set in a nightclub in the 1970's, the show weaves period disco hits into a loose story. It is directed by John Conway, staged by Alan Harding and produced by Paul Elliot and AMG.

Harold King's City Ballet of London, which has had a rather chequered financial history, is at last on a firmer footing. Viscount Rothermere is to become the company's Honorary President, bringing core funding from the Daily Mail and General Trust. This should allow the company to plan ahead with more confidence. It returns to London at the Peacock Theatre with a triple bill, including a new work by Mark Baldwin, from 2nd to 5th September, as part of its Autumn tour.

English National Opera is holding an up market jumble sale at its costume warehouse in Dalgleish Street, Stepney E14 on 25th/26th July 10am-4.30pm/10am-3pm. Period costumes and props from a variety shows (some fairly recent) will be available, at prices from 50p to 50. So if you always fancied dressing like a diva - or just wanted to get inside Lesley Garrett's . . . well, make your way to the mysterious East and join the scrum.

Nick Darke's 1986 black comedy The Dead Monkey, which was seen at New End Theatre in March, opens at the Whitehall Theatre on 15th September. It stars David Soul and Alexa Hamilton, and is directed by Brennan Street. Soul plays an ageing surfer in decline, having once been famous for a surfing double act with his (now dead) pet monkey. Potential investors please form an orderly queue at the door of Pan Management.

The Theatre Channel is aiming to set up the first cable network devoted entirely to broadcasting theatre of all kinds. It will show videos of live performances by American and international theatre companies, plus general interest theatre related programming. In order to demonstrate demand to satellite and cable operators, and potential advertisers, it currently has a survey and a request form on its web site, which you can access via our Information section. Anyone who does anything to promote the cause of theatre deserves support, so fill in that questionnaire now!

On The Casting Couch: Kevin Colson will play Daddy Warbucks alongside Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan in the revival of Annie at the Victoria Palace from 30th September; and Paul J Medford, Luke Williams and Rachel Spry have joined the National Theatre production of Oh, What A Lovely War! for the season at the Roundhouse from 12th August.

Once again the government has taken the super-spin headline grabbing option in its arts policy - abolishing museum entry charges - while downgrading the performing arts even further by scrapping the Arts Council. It is a stunning slap in the face for the one industry where we genuinely lead the world, and proves that the government has never listened to the arguments put forward in the last fourteen months. A bitter legacy for Chris Smith to leave behind. More theatres have closed since May last year than in the entire eighteen years of Conservative administration. Smith's statement can only be the signal for many more to follow. It is enough to make most regional theatre administrators, already at their wit's end, feel like throwing in the towel in disgust. This is an absolute disgrace. I just hope the Luvvies For Labour ask for their money back.