News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th July 2012

Forthcoming productions at the Gate Theatre, in Notting Hill Gate, will include Euripides's The Trojan Women, in a new contemporary adaptation by Caroline Bird, directed by Christopher Haydon, opening on 12th November; and the British premiere of Bruce Norris's Purple Heart, set in the American Midwest, about a woman trying to rebuild her life following her husband's death in Vietnam, also directed by Christopher Haydon, opening on 5th March.

On The Casting Couch: Linda Bassett, Amanda Drew, Laura Elphinstone, Susan Engel, Paul Jesson, Justin Salinger, Amit Shah, Rhashan Stone, Josh Williams, Sarah Woodward, Nikki Amuka-Bird, John Heffernan, Scarlett Brookes, Joshua James and Nell Williams will feature in Caryl Churchill's Love And Information, opening at the Royal Court Theatre on 14th September; and Francis de la Tour, Nicholas le Provost, Selina Cadel, Linda Bassett and Peter Egan will feature in Alan Bennett's People, opening at the National Theatre in October.

The autumn season at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington, the 'National Theatre' of British puppetry, will include The Tear Thief, adapted from Carol Ann Duffy's book about a magical fairy who steals crying children's tears between supper and bedtime, directed by Peter Glanville, from 22nd September, produced in association with Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester; Pinocchio, adapted by Angela Miguel, directed by Peter O'Rourke, from 17th November; and Dogs Don't Do Ballet, adapted from the book by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie, about a dog who thinks he is a ballet dancer, from 5th December.

New York TheatreNet: The Royal Shakespeare Company production of the musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda, book by Dennis Kelly, music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, about a little girl with astonishing wit, intelligence and psychokinetic powers, directed by Matthew Warchus, with choreography by Peter Darling, will open on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre, on April11th. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

The autumn season at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich will include Mods And Rox, a musical by Paul Sirett that relocates the story of Cyrano de Bergerac to London in the Swinging 60s, featuring songs of the period, with Peter Manchester, Francesca Jackson, Michael Woolston-Thomas, James Haggie, Daniel Lloyd, Alex Parry, Tom Connor, Trevor Jary and Dan De Cruz, directed by Peter Rowe, with choreography by Francesca Jaynes, opening on 7th September; and Sleeping Beauty, a rock'n'roll pantomime by Peter Rowe, directed by Rob Salmon, opening on 27th November

Loverly: The Life And Times Of My Fair Lady by Dominic McHugh, published by Oxford University Press, is a behind-the-scenes look at the 5 year creation of the first worldwide megamusical hit, revealing the tensions and complex relationships that went into its making. Using previously unpublished documents, McHugh charts the development of the show from George Bernard Shaw's persistent refusal to allow his play Pygmalion to be made into a musical, through the quarrel that led lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe to part ways halfway through writing the show, to the final months of frantic preparation leading to the premiere in March 1956. This book is the first to offer a comprehensive analysis of the creative process, including sketches for the show, looking particularly at the lines cut during the rehearsal and tryout periods, to demonstrate how Lerner evolved the relationship between Higgins and Eliza in such a way as to maintain the delicate balance of ambiguity that characterizes their association in the published script, and early versions of songs, as well as cut and unused numbers.

Stepping Stonez Theatre Company will stage the premiere of The Waiting Room, written and directed by Serge Rashidi-Zakuani, in which six people are in a hospital waiting room with no memory of how they got there, awaiting news of their loved ones, opening at the Lost Theatre, in Vauxhall, on 28th August.

The Rumour Machine says: that the American musical [title of show], telling of the trials and tribulations of two struggling writers creating a show for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, which goes on to open on Broadway, featuring the original cast of writers Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, with Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blicken, directed by Michael Berresse, will play in London next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.


Now that after 7 years of hype the Olympics are actually upon us, it's time to address the whole foolish concept. Why on earth should anyone care if one person can run faster or jump higher than another? And what's more, why on earth would you give someone a medal for doing it? You might just as well give someone a medal for holding their breath longest or counting backwards from 100 to zero fastest - but we don't, because that would be ridiculous. Rather than celebrating these people who spend hours every day training for years on end in order to attain these so called 'achievements', which are in fact completely worthless, why doesn't someone have the courage to say to them "For goodness sake stop - you're wasting your life, do something worthwhile"? Creating something: writing a book, a play, or some music, or making a piece of art - making an original observation on the human condition or adding to the sum of human knowledge - that is a genuine achievement. That is worth celebrating. That is worth a medal. Of course not everyone can create something, but everyone can participate in the arts by reading a book, attending a theatre or concert performance, or visiting an art gallery or museum, and their life can be enriched and changed by doing so, which watching someone run fast can't. If even a fraction of the money that has been spent on staging the Olympics had been channelled into the arts, extraordinary things could have been done - not stunts like staging Shakespeare in 37 languages (which they couldn't give tickets away for) - but expanding the year in year out work being done by theatres, theatre, dance and opera companies, orchestras, galleries and museums, all of whom exist on a pittance, yet produce amazing work. Surely we can learn one thing from this nonsense: spend public money on something that matters, and that has a real legacy.