News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th June 1997

The inaugural Peter Hall Company Old Vic season looks to be heading for a £1m loss. Although it is claimed that the opening weeks went well, business has slumped recently, missing the 65% capacity target, and the 10 performance/7 day a week repertoire is proving more expensive to run than budgeted. The venture is privately funded by David Mervish, owner of the Old Vic, and receives no public subsidy. If a second season goes ahead it may have to be less ambitious, with either fewer productions or performances per week. Booking has now opened for the remainder of the season, filling in the gaps in the previous announced repertoire. Waste the opening production, will continue throughout; a one man show by/with Michael Pennington Anton Chekhov will play 18th August to 1st September; and Alan Howard will be joined by Greg Hicks and Victoria Hamilton in King Lear which closes the season on 6th December.

Thanks to Emily Lloyd, Bill Kenwright's production of Pygmalion (My Fair Lady - The Play) mentioned here last week, is having a bumpy ride. Giles Havergal the original director withdrew as Ms Lloyd, making her stage debut, proved undirectable. Anne Mitchell his replacement has also been unable to make any progress, and Ms Lloyd has now been fired. She will be replaced by Deborah Cornelius her understudy when the production opens a pre London run at Windsor next week.

Michael Codron will produce a new thriller by crime novelist Simon Brett called Silhouette in the Autumn. It will feature Stephanie Beacham, Joe McGann and Hugh Dennis (of Punt and Dennis fame). Keith Baxter will direct.

In a do or die effort to eradicate their growing deficit, English National Opera will feature eight new productions from a younger generation of directors, and reduced prices for their 1997/98 season. Productions will includeThe Flying Dutchman directed by Stein Winge, Falstaff directed by Matthew Warchus making his ENO debut, The Elixir Of Love directed by Jude Kelly making her opera debut, and the world premiere of Gavin Bryars' Doctor Ox's Experiment directed by Robert Wilson.

It now looks certain that Damn Yankees will be leaving the Adelphi Theatre at the end of its initial booking period. As previously forecast, Kander and Ebb's Chicago will be opening there in October, with Ute Lemper - recently in cabaret at the Almeida - as Roxie Hart, and Ruthie Henshall as Velma. The original plan was for the American Damn Yankees cast to be replaced with British performers, but if this does still happen the show will have to move theatres, with the Savoy, just across the road seen as favourite.

The world seems to be beating a path to Islington nowadays. Oscar winning film star Kevin Spacey will make his London theatre debut at the Almeida Theatre next April, in Eugene O'Neil's The Iceman Cometh, directed by Howard Davies.