News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th March 1999

The long running Off Broadway musical revue I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change will open at the Comedy Theatre in late July. A sharp look at male-female relationships, covering love, marriage and divorce, the book and lyrics are by Joe DiPietro, and music by Jimmy Roberts. It has just received its British premiere at the Churchill Bromley, with Graham Bickley, Shona Lindsay, Gillian Kirkpatrick and Russell Wilcox, directed by the original New York director Joel Bishoff. The producers are Jeremy Meadow for TEG productions and Lee Menzies.

Further events have been announced for the Covent Garden Festival of Opera and Music Theatre from 17th May to 5th June, including: Kim Criswel in two different concert programmes, and interviewed by Ned Sherrin; Penelope Keith in the world premiere of the full score of Noel Coward's After The Ball, The Sixteen in Handel's Jeptha; The King's Consort performing Vivaldi's The Seine Rejoicing; Gilbert & Sullivan's Trial By Jury returning to Bow Street Magistrates' Court and Opera della Luna staging a new version of The Mikado set in the world of fashion houses; and following last year's Mini Opera (a three person team who toured the area in a mini, stopping to present opera highlights) comes Circo Rum Ba Ba with Dress Circle - a towering woman's Elizabethan pannier skirt parts to reveal a stage. Find full details on the web site via a link from our Festivals section.

The Shadow Arts Council pressure group, chaired by Sir Peter Hall, has been officially launched. It comprises of over 100 major performing arts practitioners, including Oscar winners Tom Stoppard and Judi Dench. Hall claims that of the 15% rise in funding announced by the Arts Council, only 5% is actually being distributed, with the rest being wasted on feasibility studies and bureaucracy. He said that the new Arts Council lacked the weight of its predecessors: "We live in a country where the word 'intellectual' is pejorative. Even the term 'art' or 'artist' is still fairly suspect". The SAC also condemned the Department of Culture for diverting 125m of lottery funding from the arts to local environment improvement schemes through the New Opportunities Fund. Spokesman John Calder said "The Government does not understand that the arts matter, they are being removed from schools - it is where we were in the 1950's." The SAC now has an information line on 0171 228 4916.

Hot on the heels of the television series Boyz Unlimited comes Boyband, a musical by Peter Quilter. It will premiere at Derby Playhouse from 16th April to 8th May, and is directed by Peter Rowe. If successful, PW Productions and Adam Spiegel may bring it to the West End in the Summer.

If you are currently resting, it's a bumper week for auditions. The opportunities announced in a certain venerable theatrical journal (which has a link from our Emporium section) run the entire gamut from English National Ballet seeking dancers of all ranks, and Royal Opera chorus singers, through animal operators for Dr Dolittle, to a female vocalist for the ABBA tribute band Bjorn Again - not to mention lap dancers at venues too numerous to relate. Truly all human life (and other sorts) is there.

English National Opera is the first major company to announce its Millennial season opening on 4th September. It consists of: Weber's Die Freischutz directed by David Pountney; Janacek's The Diary Of One Who Vanished directed by Deborah Warner; Handel's Alcina directed by David McVicar; the world premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's The Silver Tasse based on the O'Casey play, with libretto by Amanda Holden, directed by Bill Bryden, making his ENO debut; Richard Jones' Opera North production of Debussy's Pelleas And Melisande; Bach's St John Passion directed by Deborah Warner; Elijah Moshinsky's Welsh National Opera production of Verdi's Emani; the London premiere of Richard Adams' Nixon In China directed by Peter Sellars, making his ENO debut; and a Mark Morris Dance Group double bill of Purcell's Dido And Aeneas and Virgil Thomson's Four Saints In Three Acts.

Paul Rhys plays

Hamlet at the Young Vic Theatre from 1st April to 15th May. The Theatre Royal Plymouth/Young Vic co-production is directed by Laurence Boswell. It will be followed from 18th May by the Shared Experience Theatre production of Lorca's The House Of Bernarda Alba, which is currently touring. It is a new translation by Rona Munro, directed by Polly Teale. In 1930's Spain, when Bernarda's husband dies, she locks the doors and windows and tells her daughters to sew and be silent for eight years of mourning, but their passionate desire for freedom cannot be contained.

There will be the first of a series of audio described performances of Rent at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 13th April. Veronika Hyks, Britain's leading audio describer, will provide a commentary and description to enhance the appreciation of visually impaired members of the audience. The Shaftesbury has had the renewal of its entertainment licence refused by Camden Council. This follows complaints about excessive noise from residents in adjoining properties. It appears to be the result of a councillor trying to make a name for himself, as the theatre already has soundproofing work under way. People who decide to live in the West End need to be realistic about what they are taking on - they'll be wanting to graze sheep in Leicester Square next.

The Rumour Machine says: It's Divamania! Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston and Celene Dion are planning a Three Divas tour; and Patti LiPone, Audra McDonald and a British singer will feature in this year's Divas At Donmar season in August.The Rumour Machine grinds on.