News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th March 2010

This year's Laurence Olivier Awards were dominated by Donmar Warehouse productions, A Streetcar Named Desire winning Actress (Play) - Rachel Weisz, Supporting Actress (Play) - Ruth Wilson; and Red winning Supporting Actor (Play) - Eddie Redmayne; and Royal Court productions Jerusalem winning Actor (Play) - Mark Rylance, and Set Design - Ultz; Enron winning Director - Rupert Goold, and The Priory winning Comedy. Spring Awakening took the musical honours winning New Musical, Actor (Musical) - Aneurin Barnard, Supporting Performance (Musical) - Iwan Rheon, and Sound - Brian Ronan; with Hallo Dolly! winning Musical Revival, Actress (Musical) - Samantha Spiro, and Choreography - Stephen Mear; and Wicked winning the new Audience Most Popular Show. The real surprise was The Mountaintop beating Enron, Jerusalem and Red to win Best Play. Over 100,000 people watched the ceremony live as it was streamed online for the first time (probably more than the number watching BBC4 at that time). Extended highlights of the awards ceremony and full details of all the nominees and winners can be found on the Society Of London Theatre web site via the link opposite below.

The National Theatre will stage the British premiere of the Broadway musical Fela!, the back catalogue biomusical about the African composer and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti, directed and choreographed by Bill T Jones, book by Jones and Jim Lewis, who also provided additional lyrics, with Sahr Ngaujah and Kevin Mambo, who alternate in the title role in New York, and a British cast, opening on 16th November.

The spring season at the Bush Theatre on Shepherds Bush Green will comprise the Elaine Murphy's Little Gem, exploring the lives of three generations of Dublin women through love, joy, death and disappointment as they discover that the only people worth trusting are each other, with Amelia Crowley, Sarah Greene and Anita Reeves, directed by Paul Meade, opening on 19th April, produced in association with A Guna Nua and Civic Theatre; and the premieres of Anthony Weigh's Like A Fishbone, about an architect commissioned by a small community to create a memorial to the victims of an 'unspeakable crime', and the mother of one of the victims, directed by Josie Rourke, opening on 14th June; and The Great British Country Fete, book by Russell Kane, music and lyrics by Michael Bruce, a musical comedy celebration of the British summer institution, directed by Anthea Williams, opening on 2nd August.

New York TheatreNet: As part of the celebrations of the composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday, the recently reconstructed Henry Miller's Theatre is to be renamed the Stephen Sondheim. The physical renaming of the building, which is operated by the Roundabout Theatre Company, will happen after the current run of All About Me, with Dame Edna Everage and Michael Feinstein, ends at the Henry Miller's. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway, can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

The Theatre Royal York production of E Nesbitt's The Railway Children, adapted by Mike Kenny, directed by Damian Cruden, will play at the former Eurostar terminal at Waterloo Station, from 23rd July to 4th September. The audience will sit on the platforms, with the action taking place on the platforms and the track itself. It is the story of three London children who move to a cottage in rural Yorkshire, where they befriend the local railway porter and embark on a journey of discovery and adventure. The show will use the saloon carriage that featured in the film, and a period steam engine from the National Rail Museum in York, where the show played last summer.

The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn is to restage The Great Game: Afghanistan, its festival of plays exploring Afghan culture and history from 1842 to the present, previously seen last year, from 30th July to 29th August. The plays by Stephen Jeffreys, Ron Hutchinson, Amit Gupta and Joy Wilkinson, David Edgar, J T Rogers, David Greig, Colin Teevan, Ben Ockrent, Abi Morgan, Richard Bean and Simon Stephens, directed by Nicholas Kent and Indhu Rubasingham, are presented in 3 programmes, which will run in repertoire. The plays will then tour America from 5th September to 19th December, visiting Washington, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and New York.

The Young Vic will stage Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen Of Leenane, a darkly comic tale set in rural Ireland, about the relationship between a lonely spinster and her manipulative mother, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins, opening on 21st July.

The Society Of London Theatre has published The West End Theatre Audience, giving an insight into London's theatregoing community. Produced in partnership with market research agency Ipsos MORI, the report draws on research conducted at all major theatres represented in full SOLT membership. Among the findings are that 93% of those surveyed described the performance they attended as good, while 83% thought the price of their ticket represented good value for money, the average number of visits per year was 6.4, with 80% going more than once, and theatregoers were almost equally divided across the age ranges. The West End Theatre Audience is essential reading for theatre investors, producers, and theatre marketers, as well as those in academic and government sectors dealing with the performing arts. Further information can be found on the SOLT web site via the link opposite.

Sudha Bhuchar's The House Of Bilquis Bibi, which relocates Federico Garcia Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, about sibling rivalry and a clandestine affair in a household of sexually repressed women, to contemporary Pakistan, directed by Kristine Landon-Smith, will open at Hampstead Theatre on 26th July. It is a Tamasha and Harrogate Theatre co-production.

The Rumour Machine says: : that Katori Hall's Olivier Award winning The Mountaintop, which imagines a meeting in a hotel room on the night before the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, in which he is forced to confront his past and the future of his people, will be Broadway bound in the autumn, directed by Kenny Leon, courtesy of Jean Doumanian Productions, in partnership with Sonia Friedman Productions; that Chris Noth and British actress Hayley Atwell will star in a Broadway production of Garson Kanin's Born Yesterday, a Pygmalion style comedy in which an uncouth millionaire tries to turn his girlfriend, a former showgirl, into a lady, directed by Doug Hughes, also in the autumn - subject to Noth's busy schedule; and that Ian McEwan is working with composer Michael Berkeley and librettist Craig Raine on an opera adaptation of his novel Atonement. The Rumour Machine grinds on.