News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th June 2009

Live Nation, Britain's largest theatre operator, has put all its venues up for sale, which comprise the Apollo Victoria, the Lyceum and a 1/3 stake in the Dominion in London, and 14 major theatres across the country. It is part of the company's world wide strategy of concentrating on concert venues and promotion, following the $90m of its American theatres in 2007. Interested theatre operators are understood to include Stage Entertainment, Key Brand Entertainment (which bought the American theatres and is understood to have had a first look deal on the British venues), and the Ambassador Theatre Group, currently Britain's second largest theatre operator. Live Nation's initial intention is to sell the group as a whole, rather than individual theatres, and it is understood that unless it receives an offer in excess of 75m, the sale will be postponed until the economic climate has improved.

Rather more homespun than Glyndebourne, Bampton Classical Opera presents its 2009 season of outdoor performances at the Deanery Garden Bampton on 17th and 18th July, and The Orangery Terrace Westonbirt on 30th August, and indoors at St John's Smith Square on 17th September. It continues its policy of breathing new life into little known works of the classical period with Haydn's Le pescatrici, directed by Jeremy Gray. Performances include a picnic interval. Further information can be found on the BCO web site, via the link from Dance & Opera in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas, the compilation show featuring the songs of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, set on a night at The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in 1960, will return to the West End at the Adelphi Theatre, opening on 28th September, switching to the seasonal Christmas With The Rat Pack from 24th November.

Forthcoming productions at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn will include Simon Stephens Pornography, with Frances Ashman, Sheila Reid, Billy Seymour, Sam Spruell, Anthony Walsh and Kirsty Bushell, directed by Sean Holmes, opening on 6th August. The play examines events during the week of the London terrorist bomb attacks in July 2005, interweaving snapshots of the lives of 6 people. It is a co-production by Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the Traverse Theatre Company

As part of its Masterclass programme for young people who have an interest in theatre, or are keen to pursue a career in the arts, the Theatre Royal Haymarket is for the first time, staging workshops at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, from 17th to 23rd August. These will explore all aspects of theatre life, from being an actor and writing comic songs, to producing plays, with performers Nichola McAuliffe, Dillie Keane and Adele Anderson, and producers Vicky Featherstone, Nica Burns, Richard Jordan, James Seabright and Guy Masterson. The events will take place at 11.30am in the Pleasance Cabaret Bar and will cost 5 to attend, although a limited number of free tickets for 17 to 30 year olds will be available on the day. The final events in the current season at the Haymarket itself in July, will feature Drama School chiefs Geoffrey Colman and Gerry Tebbutt, producers Carole Winter and Jamie Hendry, and production manager Patrick Maloney. Further information can be found on the Masterclass web site, via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Simon Bent's Prick Up Your Ears, about the relationship of playwright Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell, based on John Lahr's biography and Orton's diaries, edited by Lahr, with Matt Lucas and Chris New, directed by Daniel Kramer, will open at the Comedy Theatre on 30th September. Set in 1962, it focuses on the point when Orton becomes successful as a writer, of which Halliwell grew resentful, ultimately leading to him bludgeoning Orton to death. The producers are Sonia Friedman, Kim Poster and Lee Menzies.

The London Bubble Theatre Company is performing Homer's classic adventure tale The Odyssey as an outdoor promenade production in parks and woods around London from 5th to 26th July. The locations are the previous haunts of Sydenham Wells Park, Oxleas Woods Shooters Hill and Southwark Park Bermondsey. Further information can be found on the London Bubble web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Richard Harris's Stepping Out, the comedy telling the story of a disperate group of participants in a weekly dance class at a church hall, with Rosemary Ashe, Brian Capron and Jessie Wallace, directed by Richard Baron, will open a national tour at the Leatherhead Theatre on 8th September. The producers are FMH Productions in association Henry Filloux-Bennett and Stephen Makin.

Edinburgh's Festival City Theatres Trust is to stage its first ever completely in house production, The Corstorphine Road Nativity, Tim Firth's adaptation of his television film about a school nativity play, in which adults play the children, and the classroom becomes a battle ground, directed by Joanna Read, at the Festival Theatre from 3rd December.

The Theatres Trust has published its 2009 Theatre Buildings at Risk Register. A total of 82 venues are included in the list, with 39 of them deemed to be at 'high risk'. There are 4 new entries in the top 10, all of which are Grade II listed: the Blackpool Opera House, the Brighton Hippodrome, the Doncaster Grand and the Theatre Royal Hyde. These replace Wilton's Music Hall in London, which is in negotiation with the National Trust regarding purchase of the freehold and English Heritage regarding a grant for repairs; the Gardner Arts Centre in Brighton, which is to be refurbished by Sussex University; and the Bradford Odeon and the Redgrave in Farnham, now classified as 'lost', as planning permission has been granted for their demolition. Further information can be found on the TT web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that a revised version of Ira Levin's thriller Deathtrap, about an aging writer who attempts to murder his protegee and claim the credit for his work, with Simon Russell Beale, and possibly Robert Pattinson, directed by Matthew Warchus, produced by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, is aiming to open at Wyndham's Theatre in September next year; that the world's longest running musical, The Fantasticks, the coming of age fable, about a boy and girl whose romance is engineered by their fathers, but is cemented by their experience of the world outside, music by Harvey Schmidt, book and lyrics by Tom Jones, which has been running Off Broadway since May 1960, may be West End bound in October; and that the current Off Broadway hit Altar Boyz, which satirises the unlikely mixture of boy bands and religion, conceived by Ken Davenport and Mark Kessler, book by Kevin Del Aguila, music and lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walter, is also looking for a suitable home for a London transfer. The Rumour Machine grinds on.