News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th August 2001

David Young's play Antarctica, about Victor Campbell's scientific team accompanying Robert F Scott's ill-fated trek to the South Pole in 1912, will open at the Savoy Theatre on 9th October. It tells the story of Campbell's group of six men who were trapped in an ice cave for six months, with no winter clothing and just seven weeks supply of food. 18th October marks the 100th anniversary of Scott's departure. The cast consists of Mark Bazeley, Stephen Boxer, Darrell D'Silva, Jason Fleming, Eddie Marsan and Ronan Vibert. Sets and special effects, which have already been seen in Canada, are allegedly spectacular. It is directed by Richard Rose and presented by Joseph Winogradoff.

Elektronic is a series of events which celebrates 50 years of electronic music at the Barbican Centre from 13th to 18th October. Its centrepiece is a retrospective of the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen, including Light - The Seven Days Of The Week, the opera cycle that has occupied Stockhausen for almost all of the last three decades. It concerns three characters that represent ideals from religious, mystic and mythical sources. SPNM, the organisation that promotes new music in Britain, will present two free concerts showcasing 10 world premiere performances. There will also be showings of historic and contemporary films with live accompaniment. Further information can be found on the Barbican web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

At the instigation of the Society Of London Theatre, the Theatres Trust is to undertake a comprehensive survey of the condition of London's theatres, as the first stage in a programme for their refurbishment. The results are expected to confirm that the investment required to bring them up to a currently acceptable standard would be beyond commercial means. The Trust's report will be used to initiate some sort of private public partnership to raise the funds to conserve the buildings and install modern facilities.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express is to end its 17 year run at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on 12th January after 7,406 performances. There are plans for a stadium version regional tour based on American and European productions. It will be succeeded at the Apollo Victoria in early summer by Lloyd Webber's next project, the Bollywood musical Bombay Dreams. This is collaboration with Indian musician A R Rehman and film maker Shekhar Kapur, with lyrics by Don Black. The plot centres on a young Indian man who arrives in Bombay with aspirations to become part of the movie industry.

Chief executive Christopher Barron has announced a controversial plan for Scottish Ballet to follow the path taken by Ballet Rambert in the 1960s, and move to a contemporary non-narrative repertoire. Although there will be no overall change in the size of the company, it will be split in two, similar to the form of Nederlands Dance Theater. There will be a large scale modern troupe, and a smaller group of new dancers working with emerging choreographers. The contract of Robert North, the current artistic director, is not being renewed when it runs out next year. Full details can be found on the Scottish Ballet web site via the link from the Dance section of TheatreNet.

You're Only Young Twice, a comedy written and directed by Ron Aldridge, is receiving its UK premiere at the Devonshire Park Theatre Eastbourne, prior to a regional tour. Judy Cornwall, Brian Murphy, Carmen Silvera and Victor Spinetti star in the story of a group of senior citizens trying to recapture their youth.

Broadway's potential hot ticket of the fall is Thou Shalt Not, a new musical based on Emile Zola's novel Therese Raquin, which opens at the Plymouth Theatre on 20th September. The book is by David Thompson, and music and lyrics by Harry Connick, Jr, with direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. The action is relocated to New Orleans just after the Second World War, where a young married woman meets a jazz musician and together they murder her husband. The show features Kate Levering and Craig Bierko, with Leo Burmester, Norbert Leo Butz, and Debra Monk. It is a Lincoln Center Theater production.

Edinburgh Fringe Report: Trestle Theatre Company will bring its production of Dylan Ritson and Toby Wilsher's Blood And Roses to the Riverside Studios from 4th September. The new play is about the Young Pretender Lambert Simnel, who was claimed to have been one of the surviving Princes in the Tower, in a challenge to the crown of Henry VII . . . Benji Ming was refused a licence for his mobile one man show on safety grounds, as it was to have been performed to the passenger in his two-seater car while he drove around the city. (Taxi drivers are unaffected by the decision).

The Broadway musical Rags, with book by Joseph Stein, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, will play at the Bridewell Theatre from 25th October to 2nd December. It tells the story of the immigrant community in the sweatshops of Manhattan's lower East Side in the early years of the 20th century. Directed by Mathew White, it will be presented by West End International, John Newman and Newpalm.

On The Casting Couch: Antony Sher will be joined by Anna Francolini, Fiona Glascott, Nickolas Grace, Alexandra Mathie and Gary Waldhorn in Ronald Harwood's new play Mahler's Conversion, which opens at the Aldwych Theatre on 2nd October. It concerns the composer's decision to convert to Catholicism in order to secure a position in the musical world of Vienna.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's final season at the Barbican opens with straight runs of Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland And Through The Looking Glass adapted by Adrian Mitchell, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh from 13th November in the Theatre, and The Merchant Of Venice, directed by Loveday Ingram from 6th November in the Pit. Both productions will transfer to Stratford from 28th November.

The Rumour Machine says: that the shortlist of candidates to succeed Trevor Nunn as director of the National consists of John Caird, Howard Davies, Nicholas Hytner and Jude Kelly; and that Denise van Outen will head for New York to play Roxie in the Broadway production of Chicago when she completes her West End run in September. The Rumour Machine grinds on.