News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 28th August 1998

Last month's sudden decision by G&J Productions to cease trading, is now revealed to be due to financial, rather than artistic reasons. The company has been put into voluntary liquidation, with accumulated losses of 415,445. Despite the careful image building as the new young dynamic future of West End producing, it is disclosed that the company never traded profitably from its establishment in 1993. The last audited accounts to 31st May 1997 show an accumulated deficit of 276,461, a figure that escalated dramatically in the succeeding fourteen months. Both partners, Mark Goucher and David Johnson, have separately formed new companies and are continuing with previous G&J projects.

Inspired by Riverdance and The Lion King, Patti Boulaye has conceived an African dance show: Sun Dance. Written with Dougie Squires and Stephen Komlosy, choreographed by Boulaye, and directed by Squires, it will feature a cast of over 40 African singers, dancers and musicians, performing a mixture of traditional and newly composed music. The intention is to play at a regional theatre next March and then transfer to the West End. The producers are Stephen Komlosy and Lee Menzies for Boulaye Entertainments.

Fisticuffs among West End producers! Bill Kenwright has fallen out with Peter Wilson, co-producer of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus, and Peter Hall the director. (There are too many Peters in this so I'll stick to surnames) Kenwright, known for his idiosyncratic style, doesn't usually work with partners, although his collaboration with Hall goes back six years. After the disagreement with Wilson during rehearsals, Kenwright cancelled the show's appearance at the Theatre Royal Windsor (which he controls), and asked Hall to withdraw. When Hall refused to do this, Kenwright's response was a lawyer's letter saying that he was ending his association with the Peter Hall Company (which he funds), putting the future of the current season at Piccadilly Theatre in jeopardy. No doubt Kenwright will calm down and it will all blow over eventually - although the Piccadilly season has been losing more money than anticipated. Other tour dates and the Old Vic season of Amadeus are unaffected.

We have finally reached the point when actors have to pay to work. Theatre de Complicite are running a workshop from 21st to 25th September called The Dreamer In The City, with the intention of creating a theatre piece from the stories from Italo Calvino's Marcovaldo. Instead of paying the participants, Complicite will charge them 200 for the privilege of taking part. Clive Mendus will lead the workshop, which will be held at the Old Vic Studio. Who do you suppose will own the rights to the work created?

As forecast here two weeks ago, negotiations are under way for the National Theatre's current sell out production of Oklahoma! to be remounted at the Lyceum Theatre in January, presented by Cameron Mackintosh. It will fill the gap between the Royal Ballet's Christmas season and the arrival of The Lion King in July. To judge by current demand, it will easily fill the much larger Lyceum auditorium. The run on the South Bank must end on 3rd October. CD and video recordings are planned during the break.

The English Shakespeare Company makes its first London appearance for six years at the Hackney Empire from 13th to 24th October. It will present new productions of As You Like It and Antony And Cleopatra, directed by Michael Bogdanov, featuring Cathy Tyson and Tim Woodward. There are extra matinees, so that both plays are performed on most days.

The Off Broadway musical comedy revue Personals receives its British premiere at the New End Theatre from 3rd September to 11th October. It uses the premise of newspaper personal ads, to paint a picture of contemporary relationships. The book and lyrics are by Friends creators Marta Kauffman, David Crane and Seth Friedman, with music by a stave of Broadway composers: Wiliam K Dreskin, Joel Phillip Friedman, Seth Friedman, Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz and Michael Skloff. It features David Bardsley, Martin Callaghan, Marcus Allen Cooper, Christina Fry, Ria Jones and Summer Rognlie. The director is Dion McHugh and the producers are Pin# and Pluto Productions.

Key Edinburgh Fringe player Richard DeMarco is planning to create a University of European Performance and Visual Arts in the former Royal High School, which he is currently using as his main drama venue. DeMarco's European Arts Foundation is being forced to move from its current location at St Mary's School next month as it is to be redeveloped.

A revival of Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good opens at the Young Vic on 16th September, with a cast which includes David Beames, Stephen Beresford, Sally Rogers and Howard Saddler. Set in an Australian penal colony in 1789, it tells the story of convicts rehearsing for a production of The Recruiting Officer. Max Stafford Clark, who commissioned and directed the original production in 1988, directs. This is a co-production with his company Out Of Joint, and will tour during November and December.

The Rumour Machine says: that The Great Dance - the "astonishing laser dance spectacular" has been postponed until December; that Joanna Riding may star in the reworking of Martin Guerre at the West Yorkshire Playhouse at Christmas; and that if its 50m Lottery bid is successful, the Royal Shakespeare Company intends to demolish its theatre in Stratford, one of the most famous cultural landmarks in the country, because it is "unsuitable for modern drama production". Presumably it will be replaced with something which has the warmth, ambience and soul of the Barbican or the National. The Rumour Machine grinds on.