News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th September 2003

John Gordon Sinclair, Daniela Denby Ashe, Victoria Hamilton and Jane Horrocks will star in Stephen Poliakoff's Sweet Panic, opening at the Duke of York's Theatre on 6th November. The thriller tells the story of a child psychologist whose personal and professional security is challenged when she finds herself stalked by the mother of one of her young clients. The show will be directed by Poliakoff and produced by the Ambassador Theatre Group.

The winter season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds includes the world premiere of a stage adaptation by Pablo Ley and Allan J Baker of George Orwell's Homage To Catalonia, based on his experiences fighting for the loyalists in the Spanish Civil War, opening on 15th March. The production is part of an international collaboration with director Calixto Bieito and his Barcelona based company Teatro Romeo. There will be a cast of five Spanish and five British actors, directed by Josep Galindo, with additional direction by Bieito and Alan Lyddiard of co-producer Northern Stage at Newcastle Playhouse, where it will transfer following the run in Leeds. The WYP's Christmas production will be Alan Bennett's adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind In The Willows, directed by Ian Brown, playing from 8th December to 14th February. The company is also working on The Postman Always Rings Twice, a stage adaptation of James Cain's novel about a drifter who gets a job as a handyman at a roadside cafe, where he falls in love with the owner's wife and conspires with her to kill him. Lucy Bailey will direct, with a West End transfer in mind.

The next production at the Royal Court Theatre will be the premiere of Loyal Women by Gary Mitchell, with Clare Cathcart, Michelle Fairley, Lisa Hogg, Sinead Keenan, Cara Kelly and Valerie Lilley, directed by Josie Rourke, opening on 11th November. The play is a contemporary drama set in Belfast.

The Manhattan Theatre Club, which has two stages Off Broadway at City Center, has completed a $35m restoration of the historic Biltmore Theatre on 47th Street to give it a permanent presence on Broadway. Once home to Hair, the Biltmore has been dark since Stardust closed in 1987, and suffered deterioration and damage due to weather, fire and vandalism. The refurbishment has seen the elaborate 1920s plasterwork in the auditorium restored, the seating capacity reduced by a third to 650, and the stage rebuilt with a new flying system installed. The Biltmore will be reborn on 6th November with the New York premiere of Richard Greenberg's The Violet Hour, with Laura Benarti, Mario Cantone, Scott Foley, Jasmine Guy and Robert Sean Leonard, directed by Evan Yionoulis. The play is a New York comedy about a publisher set in 1919. Further information can be found on the MTC web site via the link from the New York section of TheatreNet.

Steven Berkoff's Messiah, which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2000, will open at the Old Vic Theatre on 24th November. Berkoff's reimagining of biblical times sees Christ as a political dissident plotting to overthrow the Romans, who is tempted by the devil, and believes he has a messianic prophecy to fulfil by his actions. Berkoff leads a cast of thirteen in a production that incorporates mime and minimal props in the actor-writer-director's trademark physical theatre style.

Alan Howard stars in the premiere of Sean O'Brien's Keepers Of The Flame at the Live Theatre in Newcastle from 4th November to 6th December, directed by Max Roberts, in a co-production with the Royal Shakespeare Company. It is the story of an extreme right wing poet of the 1930s, now living in isolation writing his memoirs, who finds enemies past and present are closing in. The production forms part of the RSC's 27th season in Newcastle, together with six productions transferring from Stratford: Measure For Measure, Richard III and Titus Andronicus at the Theatre Royal, and As You Like It, Cymbeline and The Tamer Tamed at the Playhouse.

The National Theatre's exhibition Images Of Beckett: Photographs By John Haynes, which runs until 8th November, is a collection of images of Samuel Beckett's work in rehearsal and performance, together with hitherto unseen portraits of the playwright himself. This is in addition to Stage By Stage, the permanent exhibition in the Olivier Circle Gallery, comprising nearly 200 photographs, plans and memorabilia, which tells the history of the National from the first proposal to build a theatre in 1848 up to the present day.

The Rumour Machine says: that a new production of Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses directed by Tim Fywell will arrive in the West End in November; that the Carl Rosa Opera Company (with whom Hinge and Bracket claimed to have toured) is planning an assault on the West End next summer with Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow; that two productions from the Crucible in Sheffield - Steve Waters World Music and the current A Midsummer Night's Dream - may be heading to London early next year; and that Toby Stephens will play Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company, directed by Michael Boyd, in Stratford next June. The Rumour Machine grinds on.