News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 25th September 2009

While presenting the National Theatre's Annual Report for 2008/2009, Nicholas Hytner announced some future production plans, which include: Rory Kinnear as Hamlet, directed by Nicholas Hytner; Georg Buchner's Danton's Death, directed by Michael Grandage; Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women, directed by Marianne Elliott; and Eurydice, a new play by Moira Buffini directed by Richard Eyre; plus the transfer of War Horse and The Pitmen Painters to Broadway. There are also development plans for the building, which include a new education centre next to the Cottesloe theatre's foyer, plus a new bar and dining area, designed by Haworth Tompkins, which are expected to receive planning permission next year. The National had a good year financially in 2008/2009, producing a surplus of 456,000, with turnover at a record 51m, and attendances of 817,000, which was 93% of capacity. Newly introduced Sunday performances proved even more successful, reaching 99% capacity. NT Live, which saw Phedre screened live in 280 cinemas worldwide, reached 50,000 cinemagoers across the globe, 30,000 of whom were in the Britain. There were 25 productions, 17 of which were new, with 3 touring the UK for 21 weeks, 3 touring internationally, and 1 transferring to the West End.

The Chichester Festival Theatre/Royal Court Theatre/Headlong Theatre Company production of Lucy Prebble's Enron, based on the scandal surrounding the fraudulent activities of the U.S. energy company, with Amanda Drew, Tom Goodman-Hill, Tim Pigott-Smith and Samuel West, directed by Rupert Goold, will transfer to the Noel Coward Theatre, opening on 26th January.

Headlong Theatre Company's 2010 season will comprise Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, in a new contemporary adaptation by director Rupert Goold and Ben Power; the musical The Threepenny Opera, book and lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, music by Kurt Weill, based on John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, but set in the underworld of Victorian London, in a new version by David Eldridge, directed by Lucy Bailey; the premiere of Anthony Neilson's Orson Welles In The Land Of The Peas, examining the clash between art and commerce, in the work of the actor, writer and director; Oscar Wilde's Salome, based on the Biblical tale about King Herod's step-daughter who performs the dance of the seven veils in return for the head of John the Baptist, directed by Jamie Lloyd; and the premiere of Mike Bartlett's Earthquakes In London, about an old man who has seen the future, and his three daughters, whose lives are falling apart in different ways.

New York TheatreNet: As previously forecast here, the recent West End production of the musical A Little Night Music, book by Hugh Wheeler, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Lynne Page, which began life at Menier Chocolate Factory, will transfer to Broadway, opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre on December 13th. The cast will be headed by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angela Lansbury, Alexander Hanson (from the original production), Aaron Lazar, Erin Davie, Leigh Ann Larkin, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka and Ramona Mallory, Adapted from Ingmar Bergman's 1955 film Smiles Of A Summer Night, it is a story of tangled romances in turn of the 20th century Sweden. The Producers are Tom Viertel, Steven Baruch, Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, the Menier Chocolate Factory, Roger Berlind, David Babani, Andrew Fell and Sonia Friedman Productions.

Shakespeare's Globe is joining the rush of theatre companies to have its productions shown in cinemas, by joining the Royal Opera House's Opus Arte screening programme. This season's productions of Romeo And Juliet, Love's Labour's Lost and As You Like It will be recorded in high definition during performances, and screened at around 80 UK cinemas and 500 cinemas worldwide, and subsequently released on DVD. Shakespeare's Globe is joining Teatro Real Madrid, Glyndebourne, Gran Teatre Del Liceu and King's College, Cambridge, whose productions will be screened by participating cinemas in the coming year. Plans are under way to make Opus Arte titles available on-demand and in 3D.

On The Casting Couch: Tamsin Greig and Rupert Friend will be joined by Gemma Arterton and Harry Lloyd in The Little Dog Laughed opening at the Garrick Theatre in January; and Rory Kinnear, Anna Maxwell Martin, Ben Miles will feature in Measure For Measure, opening at the Almeida Theatre on 18th February.

The Tall Stories Theatre Company production of The Gruffalo, adapted and directed by Toby Mitchell and Olivia Jacobs, from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's children's picture book, will return to the West End at the Apollo Theatre on 25th November for a 6 week season of daytime performances. It is the tale of a mouse in a forest who invents stories about a terrifying creature to scare off predators, but then comes face to face with his imaginary creation. The producers are Kenneth H Wax and Nick Brooke.

Southwark Playhouse will stage its 6th Terror season of 4 new short horror plays, comprising The Experiment, written and performed by Mark Ravenhill, directed by Anthony Banks; Lucy Kirkwood's Psychogeography, directed by Adam Meggido; Anthony Neilson's Twisted, directed by Hannah Eidinow; and Neil LaBute's Some White Chick, directed by Jason Lawson, from 7th to 24th October. The producer is The Sticking Place.

New York TheatreNet: Many shows have made the journey from Off Broadway to Broadway, but now for the first time, it's happening in reverse. The Tony Award winning musical Avenue Q, book by Jeff Whitty, and music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, directed by Jason Moore, with choreography by Ken Roberson, which has just closed at the John Golden Theatre (having originated Off Broadway, at the Vineyard Theatre) will re-open at New World Stages on October 9th. The show, a kind of adult Sesame Street, with a mixture of real and puppet performers, carrying the warning "full puppet nudity, not suitable for children", also had a near death experience in London last year, when after an announced closure at the Noel Coward Theatre, it took a summer holiday, and then returned to the Gielgud Theatre.