Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
For the first time, the presentation of the Laurence Olivier Awards, given by the Society Of London Theatre, will be streamed live on the SOLT web site, from the Grosvenor House Hotel on 21st March, from 6.30pm. Disgracefully, Britain's premier theatre awards ceremony has not been seen on television since 2003. This contrasts with Broadway's Tony Awards, which are a major television event like the Oscars (although not so pretentious). As an important part of British cultural life, and a major factor in attracting international tourism - not to mention significant contributor to the Treasury in VAT - London theatre deserves proper recognition and celebration by mainstream television. Until then, at least the ceremony can now be seen live again. The full list of nominations, a video of the nominated shows, and the voting form for the new People's Award, can be found on the SOLT web site via the link opposite and below.
Grumpy Old Women Live 2: Chin Up Britain, the stage show 'inspired' by the BBC2 series, which is currently touring, will transfer to the Novello Theatre from 14th April to 5th June. The show offers a pre, peri and post menopausal slant on these grim times, and handy hints on how to survive them, co-written by Jenny Eclair and Judith Holder, featuring Eclair, Susie Blake and Wendi Peters, directed by Owen Lewis.
John Constable's The Southwark Mysteries, a modern drama inspired by the medieval mystery plays, directed by Sarah Davey-Hull, will be staged at Southwark Cathedral, from 22nd to 24th April. Celebrity actors are being sought to play the cameo role of 'God', alongside a company comprising professional actors, adults from the local community and children from local schools.
The Old Vic Theatre has acquired the use of tunnels beneath Waterloo Station to create a new, non-profit performance space for a series of shows and art installations this year. The Old Vic Tunnels will feature shows running for between 2 and 5 weeks, culminating in an Old Vic New Voices community devised production called Platform. The Old Vic has also announced US/UK exchange programme that will see 100 young theatre practitioners swap places across the Atlantic. This April, 50 actors, writers, directors and producers, aged between 18 and 30, will travel from London to New York for a week long placement in The Public Theatre. In May, 50 American artists will take part in a similar programme at the Old Vic. Applicants will be judged on their talent, commitment to theatre and their understanding of the potential professional and personal rewards of participating in the project by a panel of theatre experts.
On The Casting Couch: Jodhi May and Richard Coyle will be joined by Celia Imrie, Paul Hilton, David Leon, Skye Bennett and Alice Sykes in Mark Haddon's Polar Bears, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 6th April; Toby Stephens will be joined by Hattie Morahan, Barnaby Kay and Fenella Woolgar in Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, opening at the Old Vic Theatre on 21st April; and Dominic Rowan, Elliot Cowan, Laura Rogers, Jamie Parker and William Gaunt will head the company at Shakespeare's Globe, from 23rd April.
The winter season at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston will include The Sanctuary Lamp, written and directed by Tom Murphy, in which three disperate characters are locked in a Catholic church overnight, with Kate Brennan, Declan Conlon, Bosco Hogan and Robert O'Mahoney, from 10th March, a B*spoke Theatre Company production; Tom McNab's 1936, about the controversies surrounding the lead up to the Berlin Olympic Games, with Jim Creighton, David Baron and Rolan Bell, directed by Jenny Lee, from 6th April, an Attic Theatre Company production; Stanislav Stratiev's The Roman Bath, a version by Justin Butcher, a satire about the powerlessness of the individual, when a Roman Bath is discovered beneath a man's flat, directed by Russell Bolam, from 28th April, a co-production with Gologan Productions and Geronimo; Jennie Buckman's Pandora, five tales from real life developed in workshops with students from the University of the Third Age and a community school, with Thusitha Jayasundera and Sophie Stone, directed by Alex Clifton, from 18th May, a Giants Theatre Company production; and Athol Fugard's The Road To Mecca, which examines the relationship between imagination and freedom, in the story of a woman's determination to preserve her home and artworks, with Linda Bassett, directed by Russell Bolam, from 15th June, a co-production with Green for Go.
Counted, a new verbatim play about the way we vote - and the reasons why we don't, devised and directed by Steve Bottoms, Ben Freedman and Mimi Poskitt, will be staged in the Debating Chamber at County Hall, on the South Bank, from 15th April to 22nd May. It is a co-production by Look Left Look Right Productions and the Roundhouse.
The musical Anyone Can Whistle, book by Arthur Laurents, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, a surrealistic satire about madness and nonconformity, set in a small bankrupt town, where the Mayoress invents a miracle to improve her cash flow, with Issy van Randwyck, Alistair Robins, Rosalie Craig, David Ricardo-Pearce, Leo Andrew, Karl Moffatt, Richard Colvin, Sophie Juge, Lloyd Gorman, Deborah Hewitt, Elizabeth Reid, Rhiannon Sommers and Nick Trumble, directed by Tom Littler, with choreography by Alice Jackson, will open at the Jermyn Street Theatre on 17th March. The producer is Primavera Productions.
Following its inaugural London season last summer, Udderbelly, the 400 seater giant upside down purple cow, which has been a feature of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since 2006, is to return to the South Bank this summer. It will again be pitched in Festival Gardens, between the Royal Festival Hall and the London Eye. In a season that will run from May 9th to July 18th, it will host more than 50 different events, spanning theatre, comedy, dance, music, magic, spoken word and children's shows.