News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 28th March 2003

The announcement of the autumn Royal Opera season proves that times have really changed at Covent Garden under the new music director Antonio Pappano. Highlights include Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, with Thomas Allen and Felicity Palmer, directed by Neil Armfield, conducted by Broadway musical director Paul Gemignani - the first musical to be staged by the Royal Opera; and the world premiere of Thomas Ades The Tempest, commissioned by the ROH, with Simon Keenlyside, Philip Langridge and Ian Bostridge, designed and directed by Tom Cairns, and conducted by Ades. The season also includes seven other productions that are new to Covent Garden: Handel's Orlando, Verdi's Aida, Donizetti's Lucia Di Lammermoor, Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth Of Mtsensk, Strauss Arabella, Gounod's Faust and Britten's Peter Grimes. It is completed by revivals of Madama Butterfly, Il Travatore, Ariadne auf Naxos, Don Giovanni, Boris Godunov, Les Contes D'Hoffmann, Simon Boccanegra, Samson et Dalila, Der Rosenkavalier and Tosca. Further information can be found on the Royal Opera House web site via the link from the London Theatres section of TheatreNet.

Cameron Mackintosh is to start a West End revolution by introducing a two tier pricing structure for his three long running shows Les Miserables, The Phantom Of The Opera and My Fair Lady. From next month at 'off-peak' performances on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and midweek matinees (excluding school holidays and Christmas) top price tickets will drop by 10 to 30, while at 'peak' performances the top price will be raised by 2.50 to 42.50.

It's Official 1! As previously forecast here, the Royal Shakespeare Company's Swan Theatre productions of The Merry Wives Of Windsor, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, and Coriolanus, directed by David Farr, will transfer to the Old Vic on 6th June. As with the current Jacobean season, the plays are performed in repertoire by an ensemble company including: Kate Best, Claire Carrie, Simon Coates, Richard Copestake, Lindsey Fawcett, Alison Fiske, Michael Gardiner, Greg Hicks, Chuk Iwuji, Keiron Jecchinis, Adam Kay, David Killick, Tom Mannion, Ciaran McIntyre, Karl Morgan, James O'Donnell, Patrick Romer, Lucy Tregear and Hannah Young. The season is presented by Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott.

The Royal Court Theatre has announced its summer productions. Lennie James stars in Roy Williams Fallout, in which the loyalty of a group of friends is tested when a reward is offered for information about the death of a young boy, directed by Ian Rickson, from 17th June to 12th July. Mos Def and Jeffrey Wright star in the original New York Public Theater production of Suzan-Lori Parkes Pulitzer Prize winning Topdog/Underdog, which tells the story of the climax of a lifetime of sibling rivalry and resentment between two streetwise brothers, directed by George C Wolfe, from 11th to 30th August. The theatre will feature music for the first time when The Tindersticks appear from 29th to 31st May.

Satirical singing trio Fascinating Aida, self styled as 'a cross between Jacques Brel and the Andrews Sisters', are celebrating their 20th birthday by reuniting for a farewell tour, which if their popularity is anything to go by, is possibly the first of many. Marilyn Cutts returns to recreate the original line up with Adele Anderson and Dillie Keane in One Last Flutter, opening at The Lowry in Salford on 8th June, and culminating in a West End season. The show is directed by Christopher Luscombe and presented by Edward Snape for Fiery Angel.

It's Official 2! As previously forecast here, Simon Callow and Ann Mitchell will repeat their performances in the much feted Southwark Playhouse production of Franz Xaver Kroetz's Through The Leaves, a new version written and directed by Daniel Kramer, at the Duchess Theatre from 28th April to 24th May. In this darkly comic piece, the inarticulate meets the ever hopeful in a battle of wills over the compromises each is prepared to make in the combative sexual relationship of a thuggish factory worker and a self-employed butcher. The season is presented by Stanhope Productions.

The Shape Ticket Scheme gives deaf, disabled and elderly people access to reduced price tickets, as well as providing transport and escorts to theatre and music events. The organisation is always looking for volunteers to help further its work in a variety of ways, from office administration, to providing transport. Volunteers use their own car to take a theatregoer to and from the venue and offer assistance and support during the event. In return, car parking fees and mileage is paid and they get to see the show for free. Further information can be found on the Shape web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

American composer and lyricist Maury Yeston is creating a new stage version of the 1952 Moss Hart-Frank Loesser film musical Hans Christian Andersen, about the Danish children's writer, which will premiere at Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick on 4th June. Yeston is writing a new book with a more truthfully biographical slant than Hart's original, and adapting the existing score, to which other songs by Loesser will added.

The fringe show The Madness Of George Dubya, an anti-war farce based on a contemporary updating of the Dr Strangelove film, written and directed by Justin Butcher, will transfer to the Arts Theatre from 7th April. The cast is Thomas Arnold, Jamie Bower, Jonathan Bruun, Nicholas Burns, Stephen Daltry, Simon de Deney, Lindsey Ellis, Andrew Havill, Mark Heenehan, Richard Leaf, Rupert Mason and Jonah Russell.