News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th June 1998

The previously mentioned West End revival of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus directed by Peter Hall has set an opening date of 21st October, but is still looking for a theatre. The play is about rival composer Saleri's jealousy of Mozart's talent and success. In addition to David Suchet as Saleri, it will feature Michael Sheen as Mozart and Lucy Whybrow as Constanze. It begins at the Theatre Royal Windsor, and is produced by Bill Kenwright.

The Off Broadway musical revue Closer Than Ever gets closer than ever to Shaftesbury Avenue, arriving at the Jermyn Street Theatre on 16th July for a five week run. Helen Hobson, Gareth Snook, Mark McKerracher and Beverly Klein will perform the songs of Richard Maltby and David Shire. It is directed by Matthew White and produced by David Babani.

Also from Off Broadway, Song Of Singapore has its British premiere as this season's musical at the Minerva Studio in Chichester, opening on 18th August. With a jazz score, it is a cabaret style show set in a Singapore club in 1941. Book, music and lyrics are by Allan Katz, Erik Frandsen, Michael Garin, Robert Hipkins and Paula Lockheart. Issy Van Randwick stars and the director is Roger Redfarn. (and in case you are wondering, none of those names is a typo)

Mark Fisher, who stages the Rolling Stones tours, has taken over responsibility for entertainment in the Millennium Dome. (Note: this is not the Mark Fisher who has a day job as arts minister at the Department of Culture.) He intends to capitalise on the fact that the Dome is actually the world's most expensive tent, and present circus based events. Supporting the New Deal for jobs scheme, he is looking for 100 young people to learn circus skills. A simple message there for professional entertainers then: Not Interested - thank you very much..

Simon Bent's new black comedy Sugar Sugar, which takes the lid off the supposedly staid world of the Scarborough guest house, opens at the Bush Theatre on 10th July. It continues the story of two characters from his previous work Bad Company about the town's disaffected youth. A high profile cast includes Andrew Lincoln, Sue Johnston, David Daker, and Deborah McAndrew, directed by Paul Miller. The National Theatre of Brent will bring their production of Love Upon The Throne (Charles and Diana - the true story), directed by Martin Duncan, to the Bush on 9th September.

Sadlers Wells autumn season at the Peacock Theatre kicks off on 8th September with the US performance group Jazz Tap/Hip Hop, whose rhythm based street style show Cool Beat, Urban Heat is currently taking America by storm. They will be followed by City Ballet of London and the Harlem Gospel Singers. G&J Productions will present Bill Alexander's Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of Raymond Briggs The Snowman, adapted by Anthony Clark at Christmas.

According to figures released by the League of American Theatres and Producers, Broadway attendances for the 1997/98 season, which ended on 31st May, was an all time record of 11.5m. Grosses also hit a new peak of $558m. Although the number of new shows opening fell to 33, down by 4, the total number of playing weeks rose to 1442. A study of the previous (1996/97) season reveals that theatre contributed $2.7bn to the economy of New York. This figure is made up directly from the production and running costs of the shows, together with the spin-offs of accommodation, restaurant, transport and other service revenues from the audiences they generate. It's safe to assume that it is a similarly significant figure here.

Further news on the Almeida Theatre West End season at the Albery Theatre: Jonathan Kent will direct David Hare's Plenty next April. This will be the first London revival since the original Peter Hall National Theatre production twenty years ago. It is about a wartime Special Operations Executive unable to come to terms with the emotional problems of post war peace. Australian Cate Blanchett is likely to star in the role previously played by Canadian Kate Nelligan.

On The Casting Couch: The recasting line up in Chicago is now complete as Joel Grey moves from the Broadway production to make his West End debut as Amos, joining Ruthie Henshall, Nicola Hughes and Clarke Peters from 17th August.