Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
The full repertoire of the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park this year will consist of a revival of last year's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, with Debby Bishop and Ian Talbot directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, opening on 26th May; Troilus And Cressida directed by Alan Strachan joining the company for the first time, with Robert Hands, Christopher Godwin and Damian Matthews, opening on 11th June; and the previously mentioned Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, with Sara Crowe and Debby Bishop, directed by Ian Talbot, opening on 23rd July. There will also be a 35 strong cast in a Youth Theatre production by Antony Tuckey of his adaptation of The Jungle Book.
Jonathan Miller, Lesley Garrett, Deborah Bull and Wayne Sleep will be among the speakers at a rally in defence of the English National Opera and the Royal Opera, at the Conway Hall in Red Lion Square, on 24th March at 7.00pm. Managements of both organisations support the stand against amalgamation, which forms part of the brief for Richard Eyre's committee of enquiry into opera provision. It is good to see that members of the Royal Ballet are showing their solidarity with the Royal Opera. The meeting will be open to the public to demonstrate their support.
G&J Productions are bringing the Off Broadway hit Gross Indecency - The Three Trials Of Oscar Wilde to the West End in October. Moises Kaufman wrote and directed the play, which opened Off Off Broadway last February, graduating after three months to Off Broadway, where it is still playing. G&J also plan a West End season of Raymond Briggs The Snowman next Christmas.
Eileen Atkins is confirmed with Michael Gambon in Yasmina Reza's The Unexpected Man opening at the Barbican Pit on 15th April, for a four week run. It is translated by Christopher Hampton and directed by Matthew Warchus. The premise is a novelist and a life long fan sitting opposite each other on a train from Paris to Frankfurt. They do not speak, but we hear their thoughts in monologues, so as with Art her previous work, Reza has not actually written a play. It will be interesting to see if this technique can work successfully twice - Emperor's new clothes etc.
Following its stage premiere at the Palace Theatre Watford last year, a national tour of Giles Croft's adaptation of the 1948 Ealing comedy film Kind Hearts And Coronets opens at the Mercury Theatre Colchester on 5th March. In the film, based on the novel Israel Rank by Roy Horniman, Alec Guinness memorably played all eight members of a family who villain Dennis Price attempted to murder. Robert Powell is now the villain and Colin Baker plays the Guinness roles. Giles Croft directs.
Plans by Third Stage Productions to stage live entertainment at the Whitehall Theatre, around the Jack Docherty TV shows, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, come to fruition in April. Shows will be presented under the banner of Ministry of Comedy - presumably hoping to attract ravers who can't find the Elephant and Castle. This is part of theatre owners Associated Capital Theatres drive to grow new product for its venues, which has produced deals with Peter Hall Company, Almeida Theatre and Warehouse Productions.
And Finally . . . Proving that there is life after death (even if there wasn't much sign of it before) Martin Guerre is to be reworked yet again before a regional premiere, directed by Conall Morrison at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, on 23rd November. As Snoopy says in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown: "Yesterday I was a dog, today I am a dog, tomorrow I'll still be a dog - there's so little hope of improvement."