News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 24th September 1999

The 15th Vivian Ellis Prize Gala Showcase at the London Palladium produced an outstanding clutch of contenders for its expanded list of prizes. Beach Radio, book and lyrics by Drey Shepperd and music by Gerard Kenny, a kind of Grease for the '90's, won the Book, Lyricist and Most Promising Musical awards. Les Enfants du Paradis by Angela Richards and Mike Reed, an adaptation of Marcel Carne's 1945 film, took the Composer and Warner Chappell awards. Professor Utopia by Jonathan Kaldor, based on a Slav folk tale, won the Mercury Workshop Development prize. The Prize is holding a programme of courses in the craft of musical theatre writing from October through to December in conjunction with Goldsmith's College. For details call 0171 836 7732 or email As part of an expanding year round role in fulfilling its aim to discover, nurture and promote new writers in musical theatre working in Britain, the Prize will become the Vivian Ellis Foundation later this year.

As previously forecast, when the Royal Court Theatre reopens on 7th January, it will be with Conor McPherson's new play Dublin Carol directed by Ian Rickson, the Court's new artistic director. Brian Cox stars in a role written specially for him. Following this will be Jim Cartwright's Hard Fruit, directed by James Macdonald, and The Country by Martin Crimp, directed by Katie Mitchell.The season will also include the last work by Sarah Kane.

Ray Cooney is directing Edward Fox in William Douglas Home's comedy The Chiltern Hundreds, at Theatre Royal Windsor from 5th to 23rd October, prior to a regional tour and possible West End season. It tells the story of the idiosyncratic Earl of Lister and his household in the chaos of polling day 1945, presaging the Labour landslide. Fox is also scheduled for a production of Terrence Rattigan's The Browning Version, opening a pre London tour at Theatre Royal Bath on 22nd May.

The Paris Opera is to sell around 10,000 items of costume, in an auction from 22nd to 24th October, to be held in a marquee in the Place de la Bastille. The first day is reserved for business customers, but the others will be open to the public. The frocks are from around 120 productions staged between 1927 and 1993, and most were made by the Opera's costume department, whose reputation for quality is among the highest in the world.

This year's Christmas attraction at the Royal Festival Hall will be Atlanta Ballet's production of Peter Pan, playing from 21st December to 8th January. Artistic director John McFall has choreographed J M Barrie's story to a score by Carmon Delone. The producers are South Bank Centre and Raymond Gubbay. Running alongside this in the foyer, from 14th December to 9th January, will be Andrey Bartenev's version of the Hans Andersen fairytale The Snow Queen, a free exhibition/performance of automated sculptures made from paper, plastic and anything else Bartenev has found.

La La La Human Steps is returning to London with a season at Sadler's Wells in March. French Canadian Edouard Lock formed the company, which is at the forefront of multimedia dance theatre, in 1980 as Lock Danseurs. Their London visit is part of a two year world tour.

The Society of London Theatre is looking for 12 theatregoers to join one of the three judging panels - Theatre, Opera and Dance - for next year's Laurence Olivier Awards. Panellists will receive a pair of free tickets for all shows playing in the West End between 1st January and 31st December. The Theatre panel is expected to attend about 60 performances, Opera about 20 and Dance about 40. There are leaflets in all West End theatres containing an application form, alternatively send a stamped addressed envelope to SOLT, 32 Rose Street, London WC2E 9ET, or telephone 0171 557 6777. The deadline for applications is 15th November.

The Drill Hall in collaboration with The Opera & Music Theatre Forum is presenting Take Note, a four week season of new music theatre, with works in progress, performance and discussion, from 6th to 30th October. The fifteen programmes, featuring work by important new writers, include contributions from The Mercury Workshop, SPNM Promoting New Music, English National Opera Studio and Music Theatre London.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has announced its next "out of Barbican experience", comprising of two transfers from Stratford to the Young Vic. Goldoni's The Servant Of Two Masters, in a new adaptation by Lee Hall, directed by Tim Supple, will play from 10th February to 11th March. Tales From Ovid by Ted Hughes, in a new adaptation by Tim Supple and Simon Reade, also directed by Supple, runs from 28th June to 22nd July. Supple has announced his intention to step down as artistic director of the Young Vic.

The new musical The Demon Headmaster, seen earlier this year at the Pleasance London, is now on a regional tour. Adapted by Eric Angus, Paul James and Cathy Shostack, from Gillian Cross' novel and subsequent television series, it tells the story of how SPLAT (a secret school society) foils the Headmaster's attempt secure world domination through mind control. It is directed by Matthew White and produced by Julius Green & Ian Lenagan by arrangement with Jacqui Coghlan.

The Rumour Machine says: that John Malkovitch has agreed to work on three projects at the Old Vic, appearing in two and directing the third - plays and dates have yet to be confirmed; and that ill health may cause Brian Dennehey to pull the Old Vic transfer of Death Of A Salesman next January. The Rumour Machine grinds on.