News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th March 2004

Donmar Warehouse has announced two new productions. Jeremy Northam and Gina McKee will star in Harold Pinter's Old Times, directed by Roger Michell, running from 1st July to 4th September. When a couple entertain the wife's former college roommate, differing memories of 20 years earlier provoke a duel for the wife's soul. Claire Higgins will play the title role in Euripides's Hecuba, in a new version by Frank McGuinness, directed by Jonathan Kent, playing from 14th September to 13th November. Hecuba was the wife of King Priam of Troy, and mother of Cassandra, Paris and Hector, and as with most other characters in Greek drama, had 'family issues' only resolved by death.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Simon Gray's The Holy Terror, starring Simon Callow, and directed by Laurence Boswell, which has recently completed a regional tour, will open at the Duke of York's Theatre on 14th April. It is a substantially reworked version of Gray's 1987 play Melon, retaining the central character - an arrogant and manipulative king of the publishing jungle, whose fall from grace is of gargantuan proportions - but developing the story in a new way. The cast also includes Robin Soans, Geraldine Alexander, Beverley Klein, Tom Beard, Matt Canavan and Lydia Fox. It is produced by Laurence Boswell Productions and Theatre Royal Brighton Productions.

Alex Ferns and Ben Cross star in Bruce Graham's Coyote On A Fence, currently at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, which will transfer to the Duchess Theatre, opening on 28th April. Set on death row in a jail in a southern state of America, it centres on two prisoners, one is the editor of the prison newspaper who campaigns against the death penalty, and the other is a racist mass murderer. The play is based on the author's correspondence with a death row prisoner who was executed, but posthumously exonerated. The cast also includes Eric Loren and Jo Martin, and the director is Sarah Esdaile. It is presented in by Matthew Mitchell and ACT Productions.

The current touring production of the musical Saturday Night Fever will open at the Apollo Victoria Theatre on 6th July. Based on the 1977 film, adapted by Nan Knighton, with music by the Bee Gees, directed and choreographed by Arlene Phillips, the show premiered at the London Palladium in 1998. The producer is Adam Spiegel. The current production of Bombay Dreams is to end its run on 13th June. A revised version of the show, with a new book by Thomas Meehan, and a new physical production, opens at the Broadway Theatre in New York on 29th April. It is expected that the new version of the show will tour the UK in the autumn, and then return to the West End next year.

Shared Experience's latest staging of a literary classic, Gone To Earth, adapted by Helen Edmundson from the novel by Mary Webb, has just started a regional tour at the Gardner Arts Centre in Brighton, which includes a visit to the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith from 11th May to 5th June. The story is set in rural England during the First World War, and centres on a woman whose innocence and beauty attracts two men, who struggle to possess her. It features Natalie Tena, Amelda Brown, Michelle Butterley, Jay Villiers and Simon Wilson, and is directed by Nancy Meckler.

The 12th Opera Holland Park season runs from 8th June to 7th August, with the City of London Sinfonia as resident orchestra. It comprises: Bellini's Norma, directed by Mike Ashman; Puccini's La Fanciulla del West, directed by Jo Davies, and La Boheme, directed by Jamie Hayes; Strauss's Die Fledermaus, directed by Tom Hawkes; Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, directed by Martin Lloyd Evans; and Verdi's Luisa Miller, directed by Olivia Fuchs. It will be followed by the Holland Park Shakespeare Festival, from 10th to 15th August, with the R J Williamson Company productions of Twelfth Night, with Wayne Sleep as Feste, and Much Ado About Nothing. The Theatre is located in the middle of Holland Park and uses the ruins of Holland House as a backdrop to the performances. Further information online booking can be found on the OHP web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Ambassador Theatre Group has applied for planning permission to remodel the interior of the Whitehall Theatre, splitting it into two separate spaces. The scheme, designed by architects Tim Foster and John Muir, extends circle the forward to create one bank of around 380 seats and an extended and raised open stage. This alteration is claimed to be 'temporary and reversible', being similar to the scheme applied to the Lyttelton Theatre two years ago, as part of the Transformation season. However, in order to create a separate 96 seat studio theatre in the space under the circle, it will need to be considerably more permanent and less reversible than what was done to the Lyttelton.

The next productions at the Soho Theatre will be David Dipper's Flush, about three friends who meet for a weekly card game, two of whom share a dark secret, directed by Bijan Sheibani, running from 20th April to 8th May; and Adrian Poynton's A Very Naughty Boy, which looks at the private life of Monty Python's Graham Chapman, directed by Toni-Arthur Hay, running from 21st April to 8th May, presented by Ed Smith for Karushi by arrangement with Vivienne Smith Management. As part of its commitment to the development of new plays and new writers, Soho Theatre is holding Nuts and Bolts, a series of back to basics intensive seminars for writers on every level, led by Nina Steiger and Jonathan Lloyd from 5pm to 6.30pm on 19th to 23rd April. Further information can be found on the Soho Theatre web site via the link from the UK London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Royal Shakespeare Company is planning a production of Hecuba, starring Vanessa Redgrave, directed by Laurence Boswell, opening in Stratford early next year, with transfers to the West End, and then the Lincoln Centre in New York to follow; that the much talked of Off Broadway hit Dirty Blonde, the 'comedy with songs' about Mae West, written by and starring Claudier Shear (as both a fan and the woman herself), with Kevin Chamberlin and Bob Stillman, directed by James Lapine, will finally reach the West End in June; that Dianne Wiest will be the next American name to make a London stage debut, in a new play by Kathleen Tolan, probably to be called The Memory House, directed by Peter Gill, also in June; and that the success of Elaine Stritch's one woman show of song and reminiscence seems to have spawned an industry: first came Bea Arthur (a sort of Stritch but taller), and now there's going to be Carol Channing (a sort of Stritch but even huskier). The Rumour Machine grinds on.