News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 26th November 1999

John Hurt is to repeat his performance in Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape for a run at the New Ambassadors Theatre from 25th January to 11th March. The character is dictating a last audio diary message, when he comes across an old tape he has forgotten. Hurt returned to the London stage after a five year absence last September, performing the monologue in the Beckett Festival, which was part of the BITE:99 season at the Barbican Centre, produced in association with the Gate Theatre Dublin.

Stephen Poliakoff's Rember This at the National Theatre has been withdrawn due to the poor critical and ticket sales response. From 20th December to 17th January, its place in the repertoire will be taken by the touring production of Patrick Marber's Closer, hailed as the defining play of the '90's. The cast is Darrell D'Silva, Barnaby Kay, Lizzy McInnerny and Amanda Ryan, and Paddy Cuneen directs.

Theatre performances over the millennium weekend may be affected by a demand by BECTU, the backstage and front of house workers union, for an extra payment of 200 to 500 per person for its members. Currently 29 regional and 13 West End theatres are planning shows on 31st December or 1st January. The theatre managers and producers organisations have rejected the claim which would make performances financially unviable. A number of shows have already cancelled originally scheduled performances because of possible demands. The union is to ballot its members over industrial action.

Look Behind You, by Daniel Wain, at the Tabard Theatre until 11th December, examines events backstage in the world of Pantomime, where life not quite so bright and cheery as it is onstage. The cast includes Ben Garcia, Julie Mayhew, Simon Stanhope and Katherine Waugh. It is directed by Marc Brenner and produced by Strut & Fret Theatre Company.

Nominations are being sought for the Stage Management Awards, to be presented by the Stage Management Association, in association with The Stage, at the Association of British Theatre Technicians Trade Show in April. Further details and nomination forms are available from the SMA on 0171 403 6655, or Diana Fraser at the Drama Centre London on 0171 267 1177.

Amsterdam's Boom Chicago company, which blends improvisation and pre-scripted narrative, makes its London debut at the Jermyn Street Theatre on 29th November. A group of Americans who established themselves in the back of an Amsterdam bar in 1993, playing mostly to American and English tourists, they are now resident at the Leidesplein Theatre. The company scored a success at this year's Edinburgh Festival with two shows: 200 Years Down The Drain: From Jesus Christ To Jerry Springer and Pick-Ups And Hiccups.

The first of the three French musicals off the blocks next year will be Lautrec, which opens at the westcountry hit factory Theatre Royal Plymouth on 1st March, and then transfers to the West End. The book is by Shaun McKenna, the music and lyrics by Charles Aznavour, with English lyrics by Dee Shipman, and the director is Rob Bettinson. McKenna must have a bike, because he also has La Cava - for which he has written the lyrics - opening at Churchill Theatre Bromley in April. On this project Dana Broccoli has written the book, and Steven Dexter directs.

Society Of London Theatre president Martin McCallum has attacked the complex laws governing how producers attract investors, claiming that restrictions in the Financial Services Act 1986 are damaging West End theatre. SOLT is lobbying the treasury on its proposed Bill to reform the Act, which is expected next year. McCallum stressed the need to simplify the bureaucratic complexity which requires producers to seek expensive legal and financial advice, and discourages investors from becoming involved. Information about how theatre investment works can be found in the Angels section of TheatreNet.

Gasping, the comedy written by Ben Elton in 1991, which ran for just under a year at the Haymarket Theatre, is to make its first national tour. It will open at the Churchill Theatre Bromley early in the new year, featuring David Haig and Neil Stacey, and directed is Paul Jepson. Lee Menzies is the producer, in association with Kenneth Wax and Centreline Productions. Information about investment in this production can also be found in the Angels section of TheatreNet.

The association between Theatre Royal Stratford East and Greenwich Theatre is to continue beyond the previously announced season of Dick Whittington, from 1st December to 22nd January. The pantomime will be followed by: Airport 2000, an Asian sketch show based in and around international airports, from 2nd to12th February; Night Of The Dons 2: The Big Payback, a comedy set in a night-club, from15th to 20th February; Barrie Keeffe's Sus, looking at racism and the police, from 22nd to 26th February; and Marie, a play about Marie Lloyd, from 1st to 11th March.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Royal Court Theatre is giving the Jubilee Line extension a run for its money, as it may fail to make its reopening date for the fourth time on 7th January - it was originally supposed to have opened in May 1998; that Kathleen Turner may make her West End debut as Mrs Robinson in a stage version of The Graduate, with a British co-star; and that Vanessa and Corin Redgrave seem have become the new Joyce and Lionel Blair, as they will now both feature in the National Theatre production of The Cherry Orchard next September, following up the current Song At Twilight at the Gielgud. The Rumour Machine grinds on.