News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th October 2006

The Bristol Old Vic Company season at the Theatre Royal includes Christopher Marlowe's Dr Faustus, given gender reassignment as the story of a woman who sells her soul to the devil in exchange for infinite knowledge, wealth and power, featuring Claire Price and Ayesha Dharker, with Kevin Harvey, Robin Pearce, Tom Silburn, Bradley Taylor, Brigid Zengeni and Sue Bruce, directed by David Fielding and Jan-Willem van den Bosch, currently playing; and The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas's 17th century swashbuckling tale of the court of King Louis XIII, in a new version by Ken Ludwig, with Vyelle Croom, Gerald Kyd, Charity Wakefield, George Rainsford, Julien Ball, Laura Rogers, Paul Agar, Fiona Dunn, Samantha Robinson, Marcello Walton, Paul Benzing and Robin Sebastian, directed by Timothy Sheader, opening on 2nd December.

Matthew Bourne's company New Adventures is to join Wayne McGregor's Random Dance as a resident company at Sadler's Wells Theatre. The status will be formalised by the launch in July next year of a national tour of Bourne's The Car Man, loosely based on the opera Carmen, but relocating the story to a rural garage and diner in 1960s America, as a handsome stranger arrives.

Arts Council England, which offers financial support for many different performing and visual arts activities, has streamlined its application structure in an attempt to make it as simple as possible, with a new application pack. The grants can range from 200 to 200,000 in monetary terms, with awards ranging from bursaries to individual artists, through the commissioning of new writing, to support for the production and presentation of new work, at a single location or on tour. There is no deadline for applications, as awards are made month by month throughout the year. Full details and application forms can be found on the ACE web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Grand Opera House in Belfast has reopened after a 9m refurbishment programme, masterminded by Barry Pritchard and Jonathan Williams of Arts Team. The original Frank Matcham designed auditorium has been restored, with a flat stage installed and backstage facilities overhauled, and a controversial four storey L shaped modern extension built alongside, expanding the front of house facilities, and containing The Baby Grand, a flexible 150 seater studio space, to be used for rehearsals, education workshops, comedy, music, performance and films. The Christmas production will be J M Barrie's Peter Pan, with Aston Merrygold, May McFettridge, Jack Ellis and Paddy Jenkins, opening on 2nd December, accompanied by pantomime workshops held in The Baby Grand.

New York TheatreNet: Angela Lansbury will return to the New York stage after an absence of 23 years, starring with Marian Seldes in the premiere of Terrence McNally's Deuce, directed by Michael Blakemore, which will open at the Music Box Theatre, on 6th May. It is a reflective comedy about two women at the end of their lives, trying to make sense of a professional partnership that brought them to the top of the tennis world as a championship winning doubles team. The play was originally to have been part of the Playwrights Horizon season at 59E59 Theatres, but the casting of Lansbury saw it bumped up to Broadway. The producers are Scott Rudin, Stuart Thompson and Maberry Theatricals in association with Primary Stages.

The Masterpark discount car parking scheme for theatregoers was relaunched this week, with the introduction of self-service ticket validating machines in all participating theatres. The scheme offers half price parking in Masterpark car parks at Cavendish Square, Chinatown, Leicester Square, Marble Arch and Park Lane, Pimlico, Soho and Trafalgar Square, for anyone attending a show at one of 37 participating theatres. Theatregoers must validate their parking ticket at the theatre before or after the performance, in order to receive a 50% discount on the standard rate, when they pay on departure from the car park. Further information about the scheme can be found in the Box Office section of TheatreNet

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the long running Off Broadway show Menopause The Musical, a celebration of women of a certain age, as four women with seemingly nothing in common meet at a Bloomingdale's sale, through new lyrics to 25 hit songs of the 1960s and 1970s by Jeanie Linders, directed by Kathryn Conte, with choreography by Patty Bender, will receive its British premiere at the Shaw Theatre in Euston next March.

The second half of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester's 30th anniversary spring season will include Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , the iconic darkly comic play detailing the breakdown of the 23 year marriage of a combative couple during a 'quiet evening with friends', directed by Sarah Frankcom, opening on 19th March; Pierre Marivaux's 18th century French comedy The Triumph Of Love, with a cross-dressing princess, mistaken identity and misplaced desires, directed by Braham Murray, who adapted the play with Katherine Sand, opening on 30th April; and Shakespeare's The Tempest, with Pete Postlethwaite, directed by Greg Hersov, opening on 29th May; plus, as part of the Manchester International Festival in July, the premieres of the winners of the Bruntwood Playwriting Competition, Ben Musgrave's Pretend You Have Big Buildings, about growing up in Romford in 1994, directed by Jo Combes and Sarah Frankcom, and Duncan Macmillan's Monster, centring on a couple whose relationship is tested by a violent student of the teacher husband.

The Council of Drama Schools has published its first ever Guide To Careers Backstage, offering an insight into working in technical theatre. The guide covers lighting, sound, broadcast, flying, stage engineering, logistics, costume, wigs and make up, with entries written by a team of experienced practitioners. The booklet includes a focus on the work of 12 staff at the Royal Opera House, and a section on each of the colleges in the CDS that offer technical theatre training. Free copies of the booklet can be ordered from the Samuel French Theatre Bookshop web site, which can be found via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of TheatreNet, or it can be downloaded from the CDS website which can be found via the link from Organisations.

On The Casting Couch: Rhys Ifans will be joined by Stephen Wight, Jessica Brooks, Chris Corrigan, Seroca Davis, Tim Eagle, Richard Flood, Laura Pyper, David Ryall and Abdul Salis in Don Juan In Soho, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 6th December.

The Wales Theatre Company production of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, with Ron Moody, Richard Nicholls, John Labanowski, Bill Bellamy, Nickie Rainsford, Russell Gomer, Kathryn Dimery, Ieuan Rhys, Kerry Joy Stewart, Alex Parry and Terry Mortimer, adapted and directed by Michael Bogdanov, opens a tour of Wales at the Grand Theatre in Swansea on 31st October.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Off Broadway hit Underneath The Lintel, Glen Berger's one person play about a Danish librarian whose search for a 113 year overdue book sets him on a life changing quest, may reach London next February; and that the Broadway musical The Drowsy Chaperone, about a musical theatre fan who finds a show materialising in his living room, will transfer to the West End next June, complete with co-book writer Bob Martin, who is in the Broadway production. The Rumour Machine grinds on.