News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 25th April 2003

The announcement of the autumn Royal Ballet season, the first by Monica Mason as director, is a mixture of old and new. Highlights include: new productions of Frederick Ashton's Cinderella with Anthony Dowell and Wayne Sleep as the Ugly Sisters, and Kenneth MacMillan's Isadora reimagined by David Levaux; and two mixed programmes, the first featuring theCovent Garden premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's Polyphonia, together with Balanchine's The Four Temperaments and Jiri Kylian's Sinfonietta, and the second with Mark Morris Gong plus new works by William Tuckett, Wayne McGregor and Russell Maliphant with a piece created for Sylvie Guillem and the Ballet Boyz - Michael Nunn and William Trevitt. Revivals include: Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo And Juliet and Mayerling; Peter Wright's Giselle; John Cranco's Onegin; Natalia Markarova's La Bayadere together with further performances of her controversial new production of The Sleeping Beauty; plus mixed programmes celebrating the works of Diaghilev and Balanchine.

Donmar Warehouse has announced the final plays in Michael Grandage's first season as director. John Osborne's The Hotel In Amsterdam, which tells the story of three couples planning a secret weekend in Amsterdam in an effort to get away from the mysterious figure who haunts and dominates their lives, directed by Robin Lefevre, will play from 11th September to 15th November. The world premiere of After Miss Julie by Patrick Marber, which relocates Strinberg's play - a sexual liaison between a footman and his master's daughter - to a country house on the night of the Labour party's General Election victory in 1945, directed by Grandage, will run from 20th November to 7th February.

On The Casting Couch: Hugh Bonneville, Harriet Walter, Siobhan Redmond, Matthew Marsh, Jemima Rooper and Jonah Lotan will star in the world premiere of Tamsin Oglesby's US And Them, a transatlantic comedy of manners, which relates the friendship that evolves after the chance meeting of two couples, directed by Jennie Darnell, opening on 28th May at Hampstead Theatre.

Aldwych Underground station is back on the performing arts agenda with a production of Noel Coward's Still Life, the play on which David Lean's film Brief Encounter was based, running until 9th May. The play, which explores betrayal and adultery through three separate love stories set in a railway station, is being staged to a limited audience of 70 in the ticket hall (there being no buffet as in the original). Tickets are available on the door only. The producer is Angels In The Architecture, a company dedicated to site-specific drama.

Further highlights of the Barbican's BITE:03 include: America's The Foundry Theatre with And God Created Great Whales, about a writer with a degenerative memory disorder trying to complete his opera about Moby Dick; Complicite with The Elephant Vanishes, developed from the stories of Japanese life by Murakami; South Africa's Third World Bunfight with !Mumbo Jumbo, dramatising the true story of the journey to Britain by a tribal chief trying to retrieve the skull of his ancestor; motiroti/The Builders Association with Alladeen, a multimedia show with spectacular fantasy sequences retelling the rags to riches story set in an Indian international call centre; and the Canadian Cirque Eloize's Nomade, a dream like journey across time and space. Further information can be found on the Barbican web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Oxford Stage Company opens a regional tour of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, in a new version by Samuel Adamson, directed by Dominic Dromgoole at Queen's Theatre Barnstaple on 7th May. It stars Geraldine James, Trevor Fox, Mark Bonnar, Lucy Gaskell, Francis Lee, Trevor Martis, Michael Matus, Abigail McKern, Mairead McKinley and Brain Protheroe.

Cameron Mackintosh's 35m investment programme in his burgeoning theatre empire is not just about restoration - he is also going to build a new venue. The long-term lease which he holds on the Queen's and Gielgud theatres, currently leased to Really Useful Theatres until 2005/2006, includes the whole block between them. Here, subject to planning permission, Mackintosh will create a much needed 500 seater Off Broadway style flexible space from the bar currently located on the ground floor and offices above.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder starring Patrick Stewart, Sue Johnston, Edward De Souza, Lisa Dillion and Katherine Manners, directed by Anthony Page, will open at the Albery Theatre in mid June, following its regional tour. The play is the story of a renowned but aging builder obsessed with constructing tall spires, who fears the competition from his younger rivals. The producers are Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott for Triumph Entertainment.

The Rumour Machine says: that Terry Johnson's Hitchcock Blonde will transfer to the West End as soon as its already extended run at the Royal Court ends on 24th May; and that Alistair Beaton has written a satire about the Iraq situation which Michael Grade and Raymond Gubbay will produce in June (although it will surely be 'after the Lord Mayor's Show' by then). The Rumour Machine grinds on.