News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th November 2004

The spring season at Sadler’s Wells includes Pina Bausch and Tanztheater Wuppertal with Palermo Palermo and Nelken; Highland Fling, Matthew Bourne's reworking of the classic romantic ballet La Sylphide; Phoenix Dance Theatre with a new multimedia piece by Darshan Singh Bhuller; Northern Ballet Theatre performing Peter Pan, directed by David Nixon; from Brazil, Grupo Corpo with the UK Premiere of O Corpo, and Lecuona; Sylvie Guillem and the Ballet Boyz - Michael Nunn and William Trevitt - performing three works by Russell Maliphant, Broken Fall, Two and Torsion; Agnes Oaks and Thomas Edur with dancers from English National Ballet in a specially chosen programme; and Rambert Dance Company with Mark Baldwin’s new work Constant Speed.

Following an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe, James Campbell, the first stand up comedian for children, is to bring his show Comedy 4 Kids to the Criterion Theatre for morning and afternoon performances from 18th December to 8th January. The show is presented by Fiery Angel, Mark Goucher and EVA.

Milan’s La Scala Theatre reopens on 7th December, following a £42.5m 3 year restoration programme, with a new production of Salieri’s Europa Reconosciuta, the opera that inaugurated the building in 1778, conducted by Riccardo Muti. As well as a cosmetic refurbishment, the project was designed to restore the auditorium’s original acoustic, lost in hasty reconstruction to repair damage it sustained during the Second World War. The carpet covered concrete floor has been replaced by a sprung wooden one, resting on 12 layers of materials selected to create an ideal combination of acoustic properties, 11 layers of paint have been stripped from the walls, and in the boxes, linoleum has been removed from the floor to reveal terracotta tiles, and the walls have been relined in crimson silk. Rehearsals have revealed a sound richer in harmonics and of a much higher quality than before. The project also included the addition of two modernist towers with offices, dressing rooms, rehearsal space, and scenic storage areas. Further information can be found on the La Scala web site, via the link from the International section of TheatreNet.

David Tennant and Kelly Reilly will star in John Osborne’s Look Back In Anger, directed by Richard Baron, which opens a prospective pre West End tour at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh on 14th January. The original ‘angry young man’ play, which launched the kitchen sink school of drama in 1956, is about the fractious relationships of a couple (she is middle class, he is working class) and their lodger, in a cramped urban flat. It will be produced association with Theatre Royal Bath Productions.

Babette’s Feast, the children’s opera with music by John Browne and libretto by Jane Buckler, returns to the Linbury Studio at Covent Garden from 17th December to 5th January. Based on a story by Isak Dinesen, it tells of two sisters living drab lives in a Norwegian village, and the arrival of a mysterious figure who creates a feast that transforms everyone who tastes it. The cast is led by Allison Cook, Claire Wild and Yvette Bonner, directed by Tim Supple, with choreography by Tom Roden. Performances are accompanied by family workshops, pre show talks and post show discussions.

Brits Abroad: Actor and director Roger Rees has been appointed the new producer of the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts, one of the premier regional theatres in America, which stages performances from late June to August. Rees has directed a number of productions at Williamstown since 1997. His arrival coincides with the completion of two new venues for the Festival, a 550 seater main stage and a 250 seater studio. Rees’s appointment marks a rare instance in which a major American theatre company has been placed in the hands of a Briton. Further information can be found on the WTF web site via the link from the International section of TheatreNet.

The ska musical The Big Life, which relocates Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost to a Caribbean community in 1950s London, will return to the Theatre Royal Stratford East on 4th February, for a prospective pre West End season. The show has a book by Paul Sirett, music and lyrics by Paul Joseph, and is directed by Clint Dyer. Members of the original cast reprising their roles include Jason Pennycooke, Claudia Cadette, Chris Tummings, Geoff Aymer, Marcus Powell, Victor Romero Evans, Yaa, Amanda Horlock and Neil Reidman.

The Shape Ticket Scheme gives deaf, disabled and elderly people access to reduced price tickets, as well as providing transport and escorts to theatre, music and other arts events. The organisation is always looking for volunteers to help further its work in a variety of ways, from office administration, to providing transport. Volunteers use their own car to take a theatregoer to and from the venue, and offer assistance and support during the event. In return, car parking fees and mileage is paid, and they get to see the show for free. Further information can be found on the Shape web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Musical theatre has lost one of its one of its most versatile practitioners with the death of Cy Coleman, who enjoyed twin careers of performer and composer. Coleman took to the stage as a six year old, and by the time he was 21, was the pianist leader of a successful jazz trio. Ten years later embarked on his first full length musical project Wildcat, with lyricist Carolyn Leigh. Coleman went on to work with a number of different collaborators, producing a string of Broadway musicals, including Leigh and Neil Simon - Little Me, Simon and Dorothy Fields - Sweet Charity, Fields - Seesaw, Betty Comden and Adolph Green - On The Twentieth Century and The Will Rogers Follies, Michael Stewart - Barnum and I Love My Wife, David Zippel and Larry Gelbart - City Of Angels and Ira Gasman - The Life. Coleman had just completed performing a jazz cabaret season, and two new shows Like Jazz and The Great Ostrovsky recently had regional try outs and are Broadway bound next year.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Swan Theatre Spanish Golden Age group of plays may join the main house productions at another West End theatre in the new year; that Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, the original New York stars of The Producers, who are soon to commit their performances to film, will team up again for a Broadway revival of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple next autumn, directed by Joe Mantello; and that the current touring production of Ronald Harwood’s The Dresser, starring Julian Glover and Nicholas Lyndhurst, is hoping for a West End transfer in February. The Rumour Machine grinds on.