News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 25th February 2005

In this year's Olivier Awards the main honours were divided up between The Producers, taking Best Musical, Nathan Lane - Best Musical Actor and Conleth Hill - Best Supporting Musical Actor; Mary Poppins, winning Laura Michelle Kelly - Best Musical Actress and Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear - Best Choreography; and the National Theatre with The History Boys - Best New Play, Richard Griffiths - Best Actor and Nicholas Hytner - Best Director, and His Dark Materials Giles Cadle - Best Set Design and Paule Constable - Best Lighting Design. Disgracefully, once again this year there was no television coverage of the presentations ceremony of Britain's premier theatre awards, but full details can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite and below.

David Schwimmer will make his West End debut in the world premiere of Neil LaBute's Some Girl(s), directed by David Grindley, at the Gielgud Theatre on 24th May. The dark comedy is the story of a womaniser about to become engaged, who pays a final visit to four former girlfriends, with not altogether pleasant consequences. The producer is Out of the Blue.

The Phoenix Dance Theatre spring tour, which has just started, comprises Eng-er-land, Artistic Director Darshan Singh Bhuller's new piece about Friday Night binge culture, with multimedia projections of a virtual city and DJ Max Blessed's mixed soundtrack; Forest by Robert Cohan, inspired by Native American healing dances; and See Blue Through by Didy Veldman, capturing the movement of deep sea creatures and the mysteries of underwater life.

Burlesque!, a cabaret show featuring artists Immodesty Blaize, Walter, clown Mr Spike Loons, five showgirls, and pianist Rod Melvin, directed by Jane Gibson, will open at the Arts Theatre on 3rd May. The producers are Andrew Sutton, Edward Snape and Trevor Beattie.

Arts In England, a new research report compiled by the Office for National Statistics and published by Arts Council England, reveals growing support for the arts, which are more popular than sport, and are widely indulged across the social spectrum. Since the last report in 2001, the percentage of people agreeing that the arts should receive public funding has risen from 74% to 79%, with 30% of 16-24 year olds thinking that funding is too low, and 75% believing that arts play a valuable role in the life of the country. Of those surveyed, 80% had attended at least one arts event in the last year, including 26% musicals, 25% drama, 14% pantomime, 12% dance, 10% classical concerts and 6% opera. The full report can be found on the ACE web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

This year's The Night Of 1000 Voices charity event celebrating musical theatre, at Royal Albert Hall on 1st May, will include a tribute to composer Cy Colman, and a 75th birthday celebration for Stephen Sondheim. Gloria Hunniford will introduce West End and Broadway stars including Michael Ball, Laura Michelle Kelly, James Galway, Len Cariou, Brad Little, Patricia Nessy, Caroline Sheen, Jill Paice, Tiffany Graves, Annette McLaughlin, Terri Bibb, Kenneth Nichols, Kelli James, David Michael Johnson and Yngve Gasoy-Romdal. The event will also include the Sing Live choir, and The City of London Philharmonic. It is held to support the Alan Jay Lerner Fund for Cancer Research at The Royal Marsden Hospital and this year's main beneficiary will be the Caron Keating Foundation.

Christie's is holding a sale of vintage film posters at 85 Old Brompton Road, London at 1pm on 9th March, with viewing from 5th March onwards. It will feature some of the best loved films of all time, including Casablanca, Flying Down To Rio, Forbidden Planet, Goldfinger, Lawrence Of Arabia and Vertigo, with some unusual items like a French version of Breakfast At Tiffany's, a Japanese Godzilla, an original Italian La Dolce Vita and a Spanish Pinocchio. Further information can be found on the Christie's web site via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Brits On Broadway: Alan Cumming will star with Edie Falco and Nellie McKay in Wallace Shawn's adaptation of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera, directed by Scott Elliott, for the Roundabout Theatre Company, at Studio 54 next spring. Brecht and Weill adapted The Beggar's Opera, John Gay's 18th century 'musical' about a highwayman, relocating it to an American gangster setting. Shawn's new version returns the action to Victorian London.

Welsh National Opera has launched the first season in its new home at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, prior to a regional tour, with a repertoire comprising a new production of Berg's Wozzeck, directed by Richard Jones, Verdi's La traviata, directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser, and the double bill of Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana and Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, directed by Elijah Moshinsky. The company's second WMC season opens on 14th May and comprises Mozart's The Magic Flute, directed by Dominic Cooke, and Verdi's Rigoletto, directed by James Macdonald.

The Barbican Centre is hosting its sixth Only Connect series of live events giving artists in music, dance, film and the spoken word the opportunity to experiment and collaborate on one off projects. It begins on 22nd March with Graffiti Composition, in which Flo Kaufmann and Christian Marclay's work, written on 500 manuscript sheets, was fly posted on the streets of Berlin, to be completed by passers by, the result of which composer and arranger Steve Beresford has transposed for a live 10 piece band. An eclectic range of events runs through until 2nd October. Further information can be found on the Barbican Centre web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The theatre has lost one of its most influential technical practitioners with the death of Peter Foy, founder of the company Flying By Foy, who revolutionised stage flying with his work on the original Broadway production of Peter Pan in 1954. Born in London, and always fascinated by stage flying, Foy worked for the doyenne Joseph Kirby of Kirby's Flying Ballet. While there, he experimented with and refined the Kirby system, eventually producing his own techniques that made spectacular highly controlled free flight possible. Foy started his own company in 1957, and in the spirit of the obsessive British inventor, went on to develop and patent a succession of revolutionary systems, designed to enhance both the magic of flight for audiences and the safety for performers. His systems have been used not just in theatres, but also in film studios, where he flew Superman, and in outdoor arenas, most recently at the Olympic Games. Flying By Foy is currently featured in the West End production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and most recently on Broadway in Dracula.