News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th October 2001

Broadway is bouncing back almost to pre September 11th grosses, with The Rocky Horror Show, which closed on 23rd September reopening on 30th October, and producers returning the 25% four week pay deductions accepted by the cast and crew of some of the big musicals. Meanwhile the Theatre Development Fund (which runs the tkts half price ticket booth) is putting forward ideas to help encourage investment in new shows. One scheme would see a tax credit, based on the amount of employment provided by a show (i.e. the size of the wage bill), which could be passed on to investors. This would amount to about 10% of their investment, which they could then set against their existing tax liability elsewhere. Another proposal is for a series showcase productions, with star names appearing in short run shows on minimum rates. The profits would go into a fund to be used as investment for the subsequent productions, and to subsidise preview tickets to encourage new audiences. Once again New York's entrepreneurial spirit leaves the West End standing. Further information can be found on the TDF web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

The UK touring production of Rent is to play a two month West End season at the Prince Of Wales Theatre from 4th December. The Haymarket Theatre Leicester production features Wendy Mae Brown, Neil Couperthwaite, Damien Flood, Debbie Kurup, Jason Pennycooke, Adam Rickitt, Mykal Rand and Lucy Williamson, and is directed by Paul Kerryson. Jonathan Larson's contemporary reworking of La Boheme, which relocates the action in the East Village in New York, is now in its 6th year on Broadway.

Once the clocks go back you finally have to admit it's winter, which is traditionally the season for evening classes. Echoing Trevor Griffiths The Comedians, an 11 week absolute and almost beginners course in Stand Up Comedy runs on Wednesdays from 7th November, (with a preview night on 31st October) at the Amused Moose 3-4 Archer Street London W1 020 8341 1341. Alternatively a 6 week practical introduction to the basic manipulation and psychology behind close up magic and the art of misdirection is on offer on Mondays from 5th November at the City Lit Stukeley Street WC2 020 7430 0544.

Gregory Burke's first play, Gagarin Way, the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh production which is currently selling out at the National Theatre as part of the Springboards programme, is to make a return visit in December. The contemporary urban tale of a kidnapping which goes wrong features Billy McElhaney, Michael Moreland, Michael Nardone and Maurice Roeves, and is directed by John Tiffany.

Soho Theatre is now accepting entries for the Westminster Prize, an annual playwriting competition for first time playwrights who live, work or study in Westminster. This year the competition will have two categories: over 18 and under 18 years of age. Entrants are invited to submit a short play (approximately 10 minutes long) with no more than two characters, based on a photograph, which shows a pair of naked feet standing on a double yellow line. The winners will receive theatre tokens and the plays will be given a staged reading at Soho Theatre in the spring. There will be two free workshops on 5th and 26th November for anyone wanting advice or help in writing their play, but places are strictly limited. You can find the photograph and full details on the Soho Theatre website via the link from the London Theatres section of TheatreNet.

Polygraph, by Robert Lepage and Marie Brassard, runs at Nottingham Playhouse from 9th to 24th November. Described as a multi media murder mystery, it uses Lepage's unique combination of the theatrical and the visual, to tell the story of an unsolved murder that haunts the lives of three people, in a film noir style. Giles Croft directs.

'Too old to jete but too young to die', Wayne Sleep is getting his act together and taking it on the road with Ready, Steady, Dance, a celebration of musical theatre choreography. Sleep is joined by Melanie Stace and a group of young hoofers, in dance numbers from over a dozen Broadway and West End shows, on a whistle stop tour of the UK. The show directed by Maurice Lane and produced by UK Productions.

The London New Play Festival is presenting readings of nine new short plays, selected from more than 100 submissions, over three events at the Gielgud Theatre on 30th October, 6th and 13th November starting at 6.00pm. There will also be a showcase performance of LNPF's Edinburgh Fringe show The Very Nearly Love Life Of My Friend Paul by Adam Smehurst on 20th November, and a one day writing course run by Festival founder Phil Setren on 6th and 13th November. Further information can be found on the LNPF web site via the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Qudos, the management and production group which is now Britain's largest pantomime producer (having taken over Paul Elliott's E&B Productions) is moving into the production of plays for the West End. The first venture will be Debbie Isitt's The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband with Alison Steadman. It is the tale of a wife's ultimate revenge when her husband leaves her for a younger woman.

A regional tour of Godspell will open at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre on 11th March, with Daniel MacPherson and Jonathan Wilkes alternating the leading roles. The show, which relates events leading up to the crucifixion, is an adaptation of St Matthew's gospel, with book by John-Michael Tebelak, and music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Producers David Pugh and Kevin Wood have a West End transfer in mind.

The Rumour Machine says: that Felicity Kendal will replace Diana Rigg alongside Simon Russell Beale and the remainder of the original cast, when Charlotte Jones new play Humble Boy moves from the National to the West End in January; that American playwright Neil LaBute is working on a musical with Elvis Costello, with an original but as yet undisclosed story; and that Antony Sher has written a stage adaptation of Henk van Woerden's biography of Demitrios Tsafendas (who assassinated the South African prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd) with the intention of playing the leading role. The Rumour Machine grinds on.