Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
The first part of a two stage year long survey into the economic benefits to Edinburgh of its annual festivals (International, Fringe, Tattoo and Film) reveals that they generate an income of £135m, and create the equivalent of 2,900 full time jobs. Last year saw a 40% increase in the financial impact compared to a study in 1997, with total of 2.6m attendances, and 70% of visitors coming from outside Edinburgh. The Fringe generated the biggest income, totalling £74.8m. In the light of such a huge contribution to the economy, organisers have called a rise in public funding, which is not only modest, but has not kept pace with inflation in recent years.
The Edinburgh Fringe has launched its annual nationwide Roadshow of seminars to give would be producers an idea of what is involved in taking part. Confirmed February dates and locations are: 12th - Edinburgh, 19th - London, and 20th - Leicester. Further information about the Fringe, and contact details to request a registration form for these events can be found on the Fringe web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet. The web site is also launching a Fringe Reunited section, to enable the something like 350,000 people who have worked on the Fringe in the past 58 years to get in touch with each other.
It's Official! As previously forecast here Robert Falls's 1999 Tony Award winning production of Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman, starring Brian Dennehy, Allen Hamilton, Steve Pickering and Howard Witt, to be joined by British actors Clare Higgins, Douglas Henshall and Mark Bazeley, will open at Lyric Theatre on 16th May. The American theatre classic is the story of a small time travelling salesman with a blind belief in the American Dream, who, despite his lack of success, tries to force his failed ambitions and values onto his unwilling sons.
The spring season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds includes Rachael McGill's The Lemon Princess, a locally based drama about a CJD sufferer, examining the Government's handling of the BSE crisis, with Elaine Glover, Nigel Hastings, Ian Reddington, Samantha Robinson and Lesley Vickerage, directed by Ruth Carney, from 4th February to 5th March; Ibsen's A Doll's House, in a new version by Christopher Hampton, with Tanya Moodie, directed by Matthew Lloyd, from 18th February to 19th March; Homer's The Odyssey, adapted and directed by David Farr, featuring original music and puppetry, from 7th April to 7th May, a co-production transferring from the Bristol Old Vic; the UK premiere of Giles Havergal's adaptation of Charles Dickens's David Copperfield, from 29th April to 28th May; and Nobby Dimon and Simon Corbie's inventive small scale adaptation of John Buchan's The 39 Steps, with four actors playing dozens of characters in the romantic 1930s spy thriller, from 17th June until 16th July, a prospective pre West End production in association with Fiery Angel.
A new production of the long running Off Broadway musical revue I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!, directed by Phil Willmott, will play at the Jermyn Street Theatre from 1st to 26th March. John Payton, Lucy Hunter-James, Mark Hilton and Jo Cook will play over 60 characters between them in a journey through the contemporary jungle of dating, romance and marriage. The producer is Popular Productions.
The Eden Court Theatre in Inverness has announced The Highland Quest, a competition to find a new musical, with a contemporary Scottish theme, to mark the Highland Year of Culture in 2007, jointly funded by Mackintosh Foundation and the Scottish Executive. The winning entry will be the first show performed at the theatre following a £5m redevelopment project in April 2007, and will then tour the region. The panel of judges will include Cameron Mackintosh, lyricist Anthony Drewe, composer George Stiles, and director Carol Metcalfe. The closing date for initial submissions is 1st April, from which a short list will be chosen. Five finalists, who will each receive £1,000, will have their work showcased in June next year, with the winner going on to production. Further information can be found on the Eden Court web site, via the link from the Regional Theatres section of TheatreNet.
The Tricycle Theatre's spring season includes the premieres of One Under, by Winsome Pinnock, about an underground train driver trying to understand the motives someone who jumps under his train, directed by Jennie Darnell, from 7th February to 5th March; and Dolly Dhingra's The Fortune Club, in which a plan by group of friends to make their fortunes, leads them into a world of greed, glamour and deceit, directed by Kully Thiarai, from 14th March to 2nd April, produced in association with the Leicester Haymarket Theatre, where it will transfer; and another inquiry docudrama Bloody Sunday - Scenes From The Saville Inquiry, by Richard Norton-Taylor, about the investigation into the shooting during a protest march in Londonderry in 1972, directed by Nicolas Kent.
Drowning On Dry Land, Alan Ayckbourn's 66th play, which premiered in Scarborough last year, is currently touring with Stephen Beckett, Stuart Fox, Melanie Gutteridge, Paul Kemp, Adrian McLoughlin, Alexandra Mathie and Sarah Moyle, most of whom were in the original cast. Set in the contemporary media driven celebrity culture, it is about a man who is an A-list name, even though nobody knows why he is famous.
Siobhan Redmond, Lucy Gaskell, Pip Donaghy and Adrian Rawlins star in the world premiere of The Lunatic Queen by Torben Betts, directed by Tim Stark, at Riverside Studios from 2nd to 27th March. The play is a satirical revenge tragedy set in the court of Spain during its Golden Age of expansion and conquest at the turn of the 16th century.
The Rumour Machine says: that the touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats may return to its original West End home at the New London Theatre in the summer; that Michael Grandage is talking to Andrew Lloyd Webber about directing a West End production of Evita next year; that Laura Linney may star with Kevin Spacey in The Philadelphia Story at the Old Vic; that Brooke Shields will make her London stage debut in Chicago in the spring; and that the upcoming Broadway production of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, starring Natasha Richardson and John C Reilly, directed by Edward Hall, may transfer to London in the autumn. The Rumour Machine grinds on.