News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 25th January 2002

Having been through a bad patch, productions are now circling the Haymarket Theatre like planes at Heathrow. Before Lady Windermere's Fan has even opened, it has been announced that it will be followed by Rose Rage. The two part adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry VI trilogy, created and directed by Edward Hall, will run in repertory for a six-week season from 16th June. The production opened at the Watermill Theatre Newbury last year and toured in the autumn.

Former actor Michael Grandage will succeed Sam Mendes as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse at the end of this year. Grandage, who is currently an associate director at both Donmar and the Crucible in Sheffield, has rapidly built a formidable reputation as a director, winning awards for productions in both venues, including last year's Olivier Award for the London premiere of Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along at Donmar. His next project is to direct Kenneth Branagh as Richard III at the Crucible in March.

American playwright Kenneth Lonergan' work is having a double introduction to London. The first announced was Lobby Hero, with David Tennant, Charlotte Randle, Gary McDonald and Dominic Rowan, in the story of a security guard who is drawn into a murder investigation, directed by Mark Brokaw, which will play at the Donmar Warehouse from 10th April to 4th May. The first to appear however, will be This Is Our Youth, which will open at the Garrick Theatre at the beginning of March. Set in 1982, it depicts 48 hours in the lives of three uptown adolescent Manhattanites, with a stolen $15,000 to blow on a spending spree. An American cast of Hayden Cristensen, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Paquin, will be working under British director Laurence Boswell.

The famous Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi in Lapland, 200kms north of the Arctic Circle, which is carved out of the ice in a different style each autumn, only to melt each spring, now has its sights set on culture. In addition to 60 rooms, a bar, a cinema and a chapel, next season will see the creation of a six metre high replica of the Globe Theatre. From December there will be nightly open air performances of Shakespeare in English, as well as local cultural activities. British tour operators will be offering packages, as visitors from the UK are expected to form a major part of the audiences.

The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond is presenting Chekhov's Three Sisters from 6th February, to be joined in repertoire by the UK premiere of Reza De Wet's Three Sisters Two from 27th February. De Wet's play continues the story of the sisters twenty years on, and we find out how they fared after the Bolshevik Revolution. I have a suspicion they weren't much happier. Anna Carteret, Belinda Lang and Kim Thomson play the three women.

Composer Marvin Hamlish and lyricist Craig Carnelia are working with Woody Allen on a stage musical adaptation of his film Bullets Over Broadway. It is the story of an intellectual writer who is forced to compromise his principals, when mafia money backs a Broadway production of his play, and a place in it has to be found for the gangster's moll. Production is anticipated for next season, but progress is being hampered because Allen is suing Jean Doumanian, the producer of the film in question (and seven others), in a dispute over royalties. In the meantime, Hamlish and Carnelia's musical The Sweet Smell Of Success, based on the 1957 film, with book by John Guare, directed by Nicholas Hytner, and featuring John Lithgow, opens on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on 14th March.

Corin Redgrave will star in Terence Rattigan's The Browning Version, opening a prospective pre London season at Derby Playhouse on 13th June. A cowed schoolmaster finds, in the gesture of a pupil, the courage to make a stand against his bullying headmaster and his unfaithful wife, and start a new life. The production will be accompanied by other new or rarely seen Rattigan works.

Sadlers' Wells in conjunction with the Bretton Hall campus of the University of Leeds is offering professional training for performing arts teachers, and practitioners in dance, drama and theatre technology. The courses are held at both locations and run most weekends until the end of June. Some of the courses at Sadler's Wells tie in with companies appearing at the theatre, and include participation by members of the Education teams of Rambert, CandoCo, Random and Alvin Ailey Dance companies.

The Barbican Centre is hosting its third annual Only Connect series of live events running from 10th March to 27th April. Its aim is to give artists in different media the opportunity to experiment and collaborate on one off projects. Events will include: Craig Armstrong with the London Sinfonietta and Metro Voices presenting excerpts from his film scores including Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, which will be followed by a free screening of the film; and Mouse On Mars, Coil and Plaid reworking original scores and composing new work to accompany large screen edited graphics of computer games. Further information can be found on the Barbican Centre web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Tony Award winning dance musical Contact - three stories about sex and power - co-conceived (with John Weidman), directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, may be the show to succeed Cats at the New London; that the National Theatre production of South Pacific is looking for a West End transfer at the end of its run in April; that Patrick Stewart will star in a classic play in the West End next winter; that director Darrell Larson and librettist Stephanie Kerley-Schwartz are working on a sung-through narrative show using the songs of Bruce Springsteen called Drive All Night with Broadway in mind; and that Maria Friedman may star in a West End revival of the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill-Isobel Lennart musical Funny Girl later this year, produced by her sister Sonia. The Rumour Machine grinds on.