News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th March 1998

The National Theatre's "tour in a tent" production of Oh, What A Lovely War! has found that playing one or two nighters is hard enough without building the auditorium each time as well. The opening performances of the first date in Swanley had to be cancelled because the tent wasn't finished, and again at the second date when it couldn't be moved on in time. They obviously haven't rehearsed tent building to Royal Tournament standards. American bus and truck tours use two complete sets, which leapfrog each other from date to date. The National may need to resort to this method. Alternatively they can try doing without altogether, as they will when their new Theatre Square is launched on 16th April with an entertainment programme from 10.30am to 7.00pm. Hope it doesn't rain.

Not to use too many Biblical metaphors, in a "greatest comeback since Lazarus" move, Hugh Whitemore's A Letter Of Resignation which had posted its closing notice at the Comedy Theatre for Easter Saturday 11th April, will "rise again" at the Savoy Theatre on 20th April. Edward Fox remains, but some of the supporting company will not be surviving the journey.

The refurbished Jermyn Street Theatre will be the launch pad for a new musical The Betrayal Of Nora Blake with book, music and lyrics by John Meyer. Nickolas Grace directs and it runs from 18th May to 14th June. In an American '40's film noir style, it tells the story of twin sisters, one of whom escapes from the condemned cell in order to clear her name of the murder she has no recollection of committing.

The Improv Comedy Club, America's largest chain of comedy clubs, is opening its first branch outside the States in London on 16th April. Located at the former Cockney Cabaret 161 Tottenham Court Road, it will operate Wednesdays to Sundays, with shows at 8.30pm. Despite the name, it will present stand up rather than improvisation, so presumably the acts will make up the jokes as they go along. The opening weekend will feature Rob Newman and Donna McPhail.

The Turnstyle Group is bringing The Grapevine, which premiered at Derby Playhouse last August, to the West End later in the year. It is a compilation show of soul music devised by Mark Clements and Michael Vivian. As part of the Musicals Alliance, Turnstyle is also involved in the national and European tour of Smokey Joe's Café opening in Sheffield on 7th September.

Phyllis Nagy's play Never Land, seen recently at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs is to come into the West End in the Autumn, produced by Criterion Productions. The original cast included Suzanne Burden, Anthony Calf, Pip Donaghy and Sheila Gish, and was directed by Stephen Pimlott. It tells the story of an anglophile French family when reality confronts their perceptions gained only from books and television.

The Rumour Machine says: that Tom Conti is working on a one man show Jesus Is My Boy, presenting Christ in a modern context; and that auditions for extras for Aida at Earls Court from 23rd to 25th April failed to find enough slaves - what would you call working for no money? - so more are expected. The Rumour Machine grinds on.