News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th February 1999

The stage production based on Mark Herman's film Brassed Off, which premiered in a sell out season the Sheffield Crucible last year, and later transferred to the National, is being remounted for a Spring tour. It opens again in Sheffield, this time at the Lyceum Theatre on 1st April, with four of the original cast: Rita May, Sharon Jackson, Stephen Bent and Bill Rogers, supported a live brass band. Based on a true story, it is set in a Yorkshire colliery village in 1994, where the pit faces closure, but community spirits are revived by competing in the national brass band championships - a more tasteful version of The Full Monty. The stage adaptation is by Paul Allen and the director is Deborah Paige. The tour is co-produced by the Touring Partnership and Sheffield Theatres.

A cabaret double bill Back 2 Back is playing at the Bridewell Theatre from 10th March to 3rd April. Lost And Found features Sharon D Clarke performing a collection of songs old and new about love - lost and found again, directed by Richard Hanson. Amsterdam is a compilation of the songs of Jacques Brel, in new translations by Peter Kenvyn, performed by Peter Straker, directed by John Price.

The National Portrait Gallery is staging Performances, an exhibition of photographs by David Buckland of twenty five actors illustrating favourite texts, from 5th March to 23rd May. Buckland photographed his subjects enacting their piece, and then used computer generated images to complete the picture. Actors range from Simon Callow as Falstaff, through Anthony Minghella as a Monk from The Canterbury Tales, to twin images of Juliette Binoche as George Sand - female and male.

Another South London theatre looks set to close, as the Croydon Warehouse has failed to secure a Lottery grant. The Warehouse must move from its current site in June because it is scheduled for redevelopment. It has been offered a new shell building, for which there is an 8m fitting out budget. Although it has already raised 2.1m matching funding, it clearly can't find an alternative source for the remaining 6m in this time frame. Unless perhaps Sir Cameron and Lord Lloyd show an interest . . . Meanwhile north of the river, the King's Head Theatre has again lost its local authority funding, and unless this is reconsidered, or an alternative found (Sir Cameron bailed them out last time) this could be the final final straw.

The English National Opera's Spring season at the London Coliseum will consist of new productions of Handel's Semele, with Rosemary Joshua, John Mark Ainsley, Sarah Connolly and Susan Bickley, directed by Robert Carsen opening on 19th April; Poulenec's The Carmelites with Josephine Barstow, Alan Opie, Joan Rodgers and Neil Archer, directed by Phyllida Lloyd (making her ENO debut) opening on 20th May; and revivals of Jonathan Miller's productions of Bizet's Carmen and Verdi's Rigoletto; and Gale Edwards production of Donizetti's Mary Stuart. The season ends on 3rd July.

Frank Wildhorn is fast becoming Broadway's Andrew Lloyd Webber. Jeykll And Hyde - with a score almost entirely comprised of "big ballads" - has so far clocked up nearly two years; The Scarlet Pimpernel, in similar style, has run for eighteen months; The Civil War, created from letters written by and to soldiers, for which he also contributed to the book and lyrics, opens on 22nd April; and he is working on Havana, about the daughter of a Mafia Don for the Autumn.

Shakespeare's Globe is continuing its programme of staged readings, with plays of war and warfare by Shakespeare's contemporaries, on Sunday afternoons in March. 7th: Soliman And Perseda by Thomas Kyd; 14th: Histriomastix, Or The Player Whipped by John Marston; and 21st: The Trial Of Chivalry (Anon). Each reading is preceded at 12noon by an introduction to its background by Diana Devlin.

On The Casting Couch: Cymon Allen, Faith Brook, Eva Maria Bryer, Emilia Fox, Ian Gelder, Peter Moreton, John Ramm, Benedict Taylor and Jessica Turner are in Good, opening at Donmar Warehouse on 23rd March; Juliet Stevenson will be joined by Anton Lesser, Rebecca Saire and Dominic Rowan in Private Lives at the National on 13th May; and Stella Gonet will replace Samantha Bond in The Memory Of Water when she leaves on 20th March to join the Broadway production of Amy's View, which opens on 15th April.

The Ray Cooney Comedy Company is staging a cruise line first in April, during a twenty day cruise from Bombay to Istanbul on the Marco Polo. Britain's master farceur will direct and star in his plays Run For Your Wife and Funny Money with Gareth Hunt and Henry McGee. He will also give talks, and conduct workshops with passengers on farce. If this proves a success, comedy plays may become a regular feature of life on the ocean wave on Orient Lines.

The Rumour Machine says: that although Andrew Lloyd Webber is alleged to have been working on a stage musical version of the film A Star Is Born for some years, an American rival, with the heavyweight creative team of book by Larry Gelbart, lyrics by David Zippel and music by Cy Coleman is now pencilled for the 1999-2000 Broadway season.The Rumour Machine grinds on.