Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Once again there is an extravagance of premieres in the 30th Dance Umbrella, running from 1st to 29th October, presenting the best of national and international contemporary dance performing at venues across London. Highlights include: Emanuel Gat Dance with Brilliant Corners, set to an original score by Gat; Square Dance, performed across four squares in central London featuring 200 dancers, created by Rosemary Lee; The Difference Engine, combining dance, live and electronic music, interactive video and animation, by Ben Duke, Will Duke, Zoe Svendsen and Dario Palermo; Caterina Sagna with Basso Ostinato, a choreographed poem - wise, witty, grotesque and farcical; Is You Me, in which dancers Benoît Lachambre and Louise Lecavalier, interact with creations by video artist Laurent Goldring: and the last chance to see the Merce Cunningham Dance Company before they disband. Full details of programmes and venues can be found on the Dance Umbrella web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.
Opera North's 2011/2012 season, opening at the Grand Theatre in Leeds on 17th September, will comprise new productions Tchaikovsky's The Queen Of Spades, directed by Neil Bartlett; Handel's Giulio Cesare, directed by Tim Albery; and Bellini's Norma, directed by Christopher Alden; plus revivals of Puccini's Madama Butterfly, directed by Tim Albery; and Gilbert & Sullivan's Ruddigore, directed by Jo Davies; and concert performances of Wagner's Die Walkure. The season will include performances of Ruddigore and The Queen Of Spades at the Barbican.
Charles Morgan's The River Line, about a group of allied pilots shot down in occupied France in 1943 hiding from the Nazis in a farmhouse owned by a member of the resistance, directed by Anthony Biggs, will open at the Jermyn Street Theatre, an off Piccadilly, on 6th October.
New York TheatreNet: The Complete And Condensed Stage Directions Of Eugene O'Neill, Volume 1, in which the New York Neo-Futurists transform O'Neill's eloquent yet obsessive stage directions into physical comedy, with Michael Davis, Brendan Donaldson, Cara Francis, Connor Kalista, Jacquelyn Landgraf, Erica Livingston and Lauren Sharpe, adapted and directed by Christopher Loar, will open Off Broadway at the Kraine Theatre on 12th September; and it has been announced that the current production of Ghost The Musical, book by Bruce Joel Rubin from his screenplay, music and lyrics by Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, directed by Matthew Warchus, with choreography by Ashley Wallen, will open on Broadway at a Nederlander Theatre yet to be confirmed in April. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.
The autumn season at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton will include Edward Albee's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, the darkly comic play detailing the breakdown of the 23 year marriage of a combative couple during a 'quiet evening with friends', directed by David Thacker, from 22nd September; Alan Bennett's Habeas Corpus, a comic exploration of how permissiveness hit Brighton in the 1960s, with Colin Connor, Russell Dixon, Rob Edwards, Paula Jennings, Margot Leicester, Fran Ryan and Eve Steele, directed by David Thacker, from 20th October; and The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, a new adaptation of L Frank Baum's Oz stories, directed by Elizabeth Newman, from 18th November.
On The Casting Couch: Meera Syal and Belinda Lang will be joined by Elizabeth Cadwallader and Helen Lederer in Frank Marcus's The Killing Of Sister George, opening at the Arts Theatre on 7th October.
The Sound Of Musicals by Ruth Leon, recently published by Oberon Books, is a slim but authoritative volume, examining musical theatre on both sides of the Atlantic. The book gives a succinct account of the handful of 20th century musicals that in Leon's well informed opinion changed the genre forever. It offers light hearted informative essays focussing on the composers, lyricists and directors of pioneering productions, with behind the scenes anecdotes to create a fascinating insight into the world of musical theatre. A stylish little book with something for any theatre enthusiast or professional.
Those who prefer their performers to have four legs will be pleased to hear that The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is returning to Britain with their equine ballet. The white Lipizzaner stallions and their riders will perform classical dressage at the highest level and in its purest form at Wembley Arena from 25th to 27th November. Founded in 1572, it is the oldest riding school in the world, maintaining skills and traditions dating back to Ancient Greece.
The Royal Opera House is to hold a sale of more than 1,500 costumes on 24th and 25th September at the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop in Purfleet in Essex. Costumes from works no longer in the company's repertory will be sold, including pieces from Lohengrin, Cosi fan tutte, Duke Bluebeard's Castle, Don Carlo, Parsifal and The Sleeping Beauty. Further information can be found on the ROH web site, via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.
The Rumour Machine says: that the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park production of the musical Crazy For You, book by Ken Ludwig, music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, in which an aspiring actor sent to close down a failing theatre falls for the manager's daughter and together they revive its fortunes, directed by Timothy Sheader, with choreography by Stephen Mear will transfer to the Novello Theatre in October. The Rumour Machine grinds on.