News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th February 2004

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the current Lyceum Theatre Sheffield production of Tennessee Williams's Suddenly Last Summer, starring Diana Rigg and Victoria Hamilton, and directed by Michael Grandage, will transfer to the West End, opening at the Albery Theatre on 14th May. The cast also includes Mark Bazeley Virginia Denham, Abigail McKern, Jennifer McEvoy and Patrick Kennedy. A steamy Southern drama, the play combines the usual Tennessee Williams themes, including homosexuality, incest, revenge and cannibalism.

Rula Lenska and William Gaunt are starring in 84 Charing Cross Road, currently at the Churchill Theatre Bromley, prior to a regional tour. Based on the book by New York writer Helene Hanff, derived from her correspondence with the London bookseller Frank Doel, it charts the development of their unlikely long distance relationship over the period from the 1940s to the 1960s. The director is James Roose-Evans, who both adapted the book for the stage and directed the original production.

Broadway Bound: Eric Idle's project to turn the 1975 film Monty Python And The Holy Grail into a Broadway musical called Spamalot is becoming a reality. The show will have its world premiere in a tryout season at the Shubert Theatre in Chicago from 21st December this year, directed by Mike Nichols. It is a Monty Python take on the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Holy Grail. The book and lyrics are by Idle, based on the screenplay he co-wrote with Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, and will include three songs from the film, plus new numbers with music by John Du Prez. The show will follow the Monty Python format, with 8 actors playing over thirty roles. If all goes well, a move to the Great White way is planned for next March, produced by Ostar Boyett Productions.

The spring tour by Phoenix Dance Theatre of 04 comprises four very contemporary new pieces. Signal, by Henri Oguike, is set to the rhythms of Japanese Taiko drummers; Can You See Me, by Rui Horta, is inspired by the music of Jimi Hendrix; Polystyrene Dreams, by Maresa Von Stockert, is located in a surreal toy factory with a soundscape mixing classical music and factory noise; and Source 2, by Darshan Singh Bhuller, is a new version of a duet to music by Gyorgy Kurtag against projected images by Anthony Crickmay. Details of the tour dates can be found on the PDT web site via the link from the Dance, Opera, Orchestras & Choirs section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the 'actual age' production of Hamlet, directed by Trevor Nunn, with teenage leads, including Ben Wishaw in the title role, will run at the Old Vic Theatre from 27th April to 31st July. It will be produced by Old Vic Productions, Ron Kastner and Background.

To accompany the exhibition A Great Night Out! The Making Of The West End, the Theatre Museum is holding a series of talks on the recent refurbishment of London Theatres. These will be given by the architects of the projects, and where possible include a visit to the site or a tour of the building. The talks will be held on Wednesdays from 6.30pm-7.30pm at the Theatre Museum. 3rd March: RADA - Bryan Avery of Avery Associates; 10th March: Royal Opera House - Jeremy Dixon of Dixon Jones; 17th March: Cameron Mackintosh's West End Theatres - Nick Thompson of The Arts Team @ RHWL; 24th March: Exploring Theatreland - Geoffrey Marsh of the Theatre Museum; 31st March: Unicorn Theatre for Children - Keith Williams of Keith Williams Architects; 7th April: Almeida - Mark Foley of Burrell Foley Fischer LLP. For further information and booking contact the Theatre Museum on 020 7943 4750.

The Bath Shakespeare Festival, at the Theatre Royal Bath from 1st to 13th March, includes some unusual takes on the Bard: Forkbeard Fantasy, who specialise in mixing live action and film, present Shooting Shakespeare, a surreal comedy about an early attempt capture Shakespeare on film in 1904, and As You Like It; Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre Company performs The Al-Hamlet Summit by Sulayman Al-Bassam, which relocates the story of the great Dane in the Middle East; Explosive Acts performs Othellophobia, a promenade production incorporating video, soundscape, martial arts and Commedia dell'arte; and A Midsummer Night's Dream is performed in a three handed production, adapted for a family audience by Hattie Naylor.

Meanwhile, Peter Hall has announced his second repertory season at the Theatre Royal Bath, running from 30th June to 4th September. It comprises: the world premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker's Galileo's Daughter, with Julian Glover, Rebecca Hall and Anna Carteret, directed by Peter Hall; Moliere's Don Juan, in a new version by Simon Nye, with Will Keen and Rebecca Hall, directed by Thea Sharrock; George Bernard Shaw's Man And Superman, which will include the rarely performed "Don Juan In Hell" sequence, with Will Keen, Rebecca Hall, Julian Glover and Anna Carteret, directed by Peter Hall; and Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit, directed by Thea Sharrock.

The 49th National Student Drama Festival takes place in Scarborough from 31st March to 7th April, and it is open to everyone: colleges, youth theatres, community organisations and universities. Last year's Festival comprised 14 shows, chosen from a record 135 entries. Entrants can embrace all styles and themes, from devised work to modern classics, from musical theatre to new writing, and from physical theatre to the great classic drama of the past. In addition to performances, the Festival also has an extensive programme of workshops, masterclasses and other events. Last year's participants included Mike Leigh, David Glass, Willy Russell, Tim Firth, Howard Goodall, Mark Ravenhill, Stephen Jeffreys, Michael Billington, Robert Hewison and Scarborough's Cultural Godfather Alan Ayckbourn. During the Festival, the town assumes the mantle of a mini Edinburgh Fringe, as a variety of venues become performance spaces. Further information can be found on the NSDF web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that the current Almeida Theatre production of Edward Albee's The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia? , starring Jonathan Pryce, is looking for a West End transfer; that the next Hollywood import in the West End may be Alicia Witt, in a new production of Neil Labute's The Shape Of Things, a previous Almeida Theatre production; that Hans Christian Andersen, Maury Yeston's new stage musical based on the film with a score by Frank Loesser, may arrive in the West End at an Ambassador Theatre Group venue either late this year or early next; and that Jerry Hall may be joining Steven Berkoff in a production of Macbeth. The Rumour Machine grinds on.