News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th May 2005

The Almeida Theatre has announced its new season. David Mamet's Romance, a contemporary satirical courtroom farce, directed by Lindsay Posner, will receive its European premiere on 8th September; Moliere's The Hypochondriac, about a man who enjoys being sick, in a new version by Richard Bean, also directed by Lindsay Posner, will opens on 17th November; Sam Shepard's The Late Henry Moss, in which family secrets are revealed as two brothers return home to confront each other, their violent past and the death of their father, directed by Michael Attenborough, will receive its European Premiere on 19th January; Tennessee Williams's Period Of Adjustment, a tangled comedy about a war veteran and his new bride visitting a friend whose wife has just left him on Christmas Eve, directed by Howard Davies, will open on 16th March; and David Hare's new version of Gorky's Enemies, set in pre Revolutionary provincial Russia amid the struggle between workers and industrialists, directed by Michael Attenborough, will open on 11th May.

Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales is returning to its roots, with a promenade production around Southwark, where the Pilgrims started their journey, from 29th June to 10th July, courtesy of Southwark Playhouse. The Prologue will be performed at The George Inn, the Knight's Tale in the Gardens of St George the Martyr, the Miller and the Nun's Priest's Tale in Little Dorrit's Court, the Pardoner's Tale at Borough Market and the Wife of Bath's Tale in the Millennium Courtyard of Southwark Cathedral. The tales have been adapted by Ian Hastings and Gareth Machin, who will also direct, for a company of seven actors and two musicians, with the support of twenty locals.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Cameron Mackintosh, who takes over the lease of the Wyndham's and Albery theatres in October, has confirmed that he intends to rename the Albery in honour of Noel Coward, whose first play I'll Leave It To You opened there in 1920. The change will take place next year, once a refurbishment programme has been carried out. Mackintosh is also to rename the Strand theatre, in honour of the composer and performer Ivor Novello, when it reopens after the 6m refurbishment that starts next week. Novello lived in a flat above the theatre for many years, which now houses the offices of the producer Duncan Weldon.

Richard Griffiths, John Hurt and Ken Stott are to star in the premiere of Tom Stoppard's new English version of a hit French play by Gerald Sibleyras, provisionally titled Wind In The Poplars, directed by Thea Sharrock, opening at Wyndham's Theatre on 18th October. Set in 1959, the play takes place in a veterans' hospital where three men are planning their escape. The producer is David Pugh.

Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson are to reinvent pantomime with The League Of Gentlemen Are Behind You, which opens a regional tour at Bristol Hippodrome on 13th October, arriving at the London Apollo Hammersmith from 1st to 4th December. The producer is Phil McIntyre.

KIT Productions is launching Sound Theatre, a new 200 seater space, converted from a former nightclub in Swiss Centre in Leicester Square on 24th June. It aims to present its own productions, as well as transfers of successful fringe shows, and late night cabaret, music and performance art. The first season will comprise Moises Kaufman's The Laramie Project, created with members of the Tectonic Theater Project based on interviews about the murder of a gay college student, with Margot Leicester and Russell Tovey, directed by Ruth Carney; Terence McNally's Frankie And Johnnie In The Clair de Lune, about a waitress and an ex-con cook in a New York diner who reluctantly fall in love, directed by James Phillips, opening on 22nd July; and a new version of Percy Bysshe Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, based on the Greek myth about a man who angered the gods and was left on a mountaintop where his liver eaten away by vultures each day, starring David Oyelowo, directed by James Kerr, opening on 19th August.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Sean Foley and Hamish McColl (aka The Right Size) will bring their new show Ducktastic! to the Albery Theatre, opening on 17th October. As always with their work, the plot is not straightforward, but it is inspired by the Las Vegas illusionists Siegfried and Roy, only on a more modest scale, using ducks instead of Siberian tigers. It will be directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by David Pugh.

Samuel French, the legendary theatre bookshop and publisher and leasing agent of the eponymous French's Acting Editions of plays, is holding a festival from 1st to 15th June to mark its 175th anniversary. There will be competitions and special events, and customers will be invited to join its authors and staff for a glass of wine and slice of birthday cake.

Longborough Festival Opera, one of the 'alternative Glyndebournes', presents its 16th season, running from 17th June to 30th July. It comprises Mozart's The Magic Flute, directed by Alan Privett; the Opera Project production of Puccini's La Boheme, directed by Richard Studer; and a new production of Humperdinck's Hansel And Gretel, also directed by Privett. All operas are sung in English. The nearby Farncombe Estate Centre offers accompanying day and weekend courses on the operas. Further information can be found on the LFO web site via the link from Dance & Opera in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Alain Boublil and Claude Michel Schonberg's new musical The Pirate Queen will premiere in Dublin in the autumn, directed by John McColgan; that Ray Cooney's latest farce, Tom, Dick And Harry, will open at the Duke of York's Theatre in August; and that the current Broadway production of David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, about the cut-throat world of real estate agents, directed by Joe Mantello, will transfer to London in the autumn. The Rumour Machine grinds on.