News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th May 2006

New York TheatreNet: Once again there is a strong showing of British talent in this year's New York Drama Desk Awards. Alan Bennett's The History Boys took Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Play Actor - Richard Griffiths, Outstanding Play Actress (Featured) - Frances de la Tour, Outstanding Play Actor (Featured) - Samuel Barnett, and Outstanding Play Director - Nicholas Hytner; Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler's Sweeney Todd won Outstanding Musical Revival and Outstanding Musical Director - John Doyle; Jim Dale took Outstanding Featured Musical Actor for Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil's The Threepenny Opera; Anthony Sher won Outstanding Solo Performance for Primo; and the cast of David Hare's Stuff Happens took Outstanding Ensemble Performances. The big American winner was the musical The Drowsy Chaperone, which won seven awards, including Outstanding New Musical, and Outstanding Book, Music and Lyrics. The full list of winners can be found on the Drama Desk Awards web site via the link from Organisations section of New York TheatreNet

The Gate Theatre Dublin production of Samuel Beckett's television play Eh Joe, adapted for the stage and directed by Atom Egoyan, will transfer to the Duke of York's Theatre from 29th June to 15th July. An unseen female addresses an isolated unspeaking male, reminding him of a past love affair that ended with the her suicide. In Dublin the show starred Penelope Wilton and Michael Gambon, but London casting is yet to be confirmed.

The autumn season at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh comprises Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice, directed by Mark Thomson; Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart, in a new version by David Harrower, directed by Vicky Featherstone, a co-production with the National Theatre of Scotland; a new version of Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio, written and directed by Mark Thomson; Arthur Miller's All My Sons, about a family torn apart by the knowledge that the father sold faulty parts to the US army during the Second World War, directed by John Dove; George Bernard Shaw's Mrs Warren's Profession, the confrontation that takes place when a daughter finds out that her mother's fortune and position was derived from prostitution, directed by Tony Cownie; the premiere of Monks, by Des Dillon, a comedy about three Glaswegians arriving on an Italian mountain in search of a monk with healing powers, directed by Mark Thomson; and Man Of La Mancha, the musical based on Cervantes's Don Quixote, book by Dale Wasserman, music by Mitch Leigh, and lyrics by Joe Lardon, directed by Martin Duncan.

Two shows currently touring are to mount 'bank raid' West End appearances. Grumpy Old Women Live, the stage show 'inspired' by the BBC2 series, will transfer to the Lyric Theatre from 14th June to 15th July. The celebration of the pre, peri and post menopausal female condition, co-written by Jenny Eclair and Judith Holder and script edited by Richard Herring, features Eclair, Dillie Keane and Linda Robson, directed by Chris George. Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show, with David Bedella, Suzanne Shaw, Iain Davey, Shona White, Matthew Cole, Kay Murphy, Sarah Boulton, Claire Parrish, Nathan Amzi, Julian Essex-Spurrier and star guest Narrators, directed by Christopher Luscombe, will run at the Playhouse Theatre from 3rd to 22nd July.

Theatre Administrator Nicola Wass has been awarded the inaugural Rupert Rhymes Bursary, which was established by the Society of London Theatre and Theatrical Management Association on the retirement of their former Chief Executive. The award of 2,000 is to enable individuals at an early stage of a career in theatre production or administration to undertake a theatre project that falls outside other funding schemes - for example, to develop skills in an international context. Wass will use her bursary to finance a full time literary placement at the New York Summer Plays Festival in July. Further information and an application form regarding future awards can be found on the Stage One web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet. The closing date for the next round of applications is 29th September.

Maxine Peake, Paul Hilton and Tom McKay will star in the yet-to-be-revealed winning play in the Channel 4 television series The Play's The Thing, directed by Robert Delamere, which opens at the New Ambassadors Theatre on 22nd June.

Longborough Festival Opera, one of the 'alternative Glyndebournes', presents its 17th season, running from 9th June to 15th July. It comprises the Opera Project production of Mozart's Don Giovanni , with Riccardo Simonetti, directed by Richard Studer; new productions of Verdi's Rigoletto, with Craig Smith and Lurelle Alefounder, also directed by Studer; and Bizet's Carmen, with Maria Soulis and Dwayne Jones, directed by Alan Privett, plus a performance of Britten's children's opera The Little Sweep, directed by Maria Jagusz. Most operas are sung in English. In order to accommodate a dinner interval performances begin at 6.30pm. Further information can be found on the LFO web site via the link from Dance & Opera in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Summer productions at the Unicorn Theatre for Children at London Bridge will include the Action Transport and Vulavulani Theatre Company productions of Tselane's Song, celebrating African stories, song and dance, and Gogo, the story of two children from Soweto sent to live in the country; Blue, a multi sensory installation of light, video images and blues music; Cyrano, Jo Roets's new adaptation of Edmond Rostand's classic romance Cyrano de Bergerac, translated by Audrey van Tuyckom; Patrick Shanahan's Oz, a retelling of L Frank Baum's Oz stories; Tim Crouch performing his one person versions of Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream - I, peaseblossom, Macbeth - I, banquo - and The Tempest - I, caliban; and Tangere Art's storytelling performance of Noel Grieg's poem Hood In The Wood, a new take on the wood, the wolf and the granny.

The summer season at Nottingham Playhouse includes To Reach The Clouds, by Nick Drake, adapted from the book by Philippe Petit, about his high wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre, 1,350ft above New York, directed by Giles Croft, opening on 21st June; and Tracey Beaker Gets Real, adapted by Mary Morris from Jacqueline Wilson's The Story Of Tracy Beaker, about Britain's most volatile teenager, directed by David Newman, which opens a national tour on 30th August.

This year's open air Cannizaro Park Festival in Wimbledon runs from 22nd July to 6th August. The programme includes the usual mixture of jazz, including appearances by the James Taylor Quartet, Ray Gelato, Humphrey Lyttelton and Clare Teale; comedy with Jongleurs Comedy Club and The Comedy Store Players; and music from Puccini's Madam Butterfly and the classical group Boheme to Elkie Brooks and Andy Abraham. Further information can be found on the CPF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet

The Rumour Machine says: that, in the coals to Newcastle department, Michael Grandage's West End production of Guys And Dolls will open in New York in the autumn; that director John Doyle is to bring his trademark actor/musician staging technique to straight theatre in a production of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus; and that Martine McCutcheon may star in Bill Kenwright's production of John Kander and Fred Ebb's musical Cabaret, directed by Rufus Norris, opening at the Lyric Theatre in October. The Rumour Machine grinds on.