News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 28th September 2001

Penelope Keith and Una Stubbs star in the world premiere of a stage adaptation of Noel Coward's short story Star Quality, which opens at the Lyric Theatre on 29th October. One of his final works, the caustic comedy presents a behind the scenes look at theatreland, as personalities and egos clash during rehearsals for a West End production of a new work. The play, which also features Peter Cellier, Nick Fletcher, Nick Waring and Marjorie Yates, is adapted and directed by Christopher Luscombe. It is produced by Bill Kenwright.

The autumn season at Hampstead Theatre, which starts on 8th October, comprises Marc Salem's Off Broadway show Mind Games, an entertainment in which he employs psychological techniques, visual information and behavioural psychology; Midden, the first work by Morna Regan, about three generations of an Irish Catholic family and a missing legacy, with Barbara Adair, Michelle Fairley, Ruth Hegarty and Maggie Hayes, directed by Lynne Parker, from 18th October; and two one person shows playing concurrently: Eileen Atkins returns on 14th November as Virginia Woolf in Patrick Garland's A Room Of One's Own, based on Woolf's writings about women and fiction, originally produced at Hampstead in 1989, before transferring to the West End and Broadway; and Andrew Bennett performs Michael West's Foley, from 15th November, examining Irish Protestant life as a land owner rebels against a dying culture.

Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren are heading for Broadway in August Strindberg's Dance of Death, in a new translation Richard Greenberg, opening at the Broadhurst Theatre on 11th October. They play a husband and wife preparing for their silver wedding anniversary when a figure from their past appears. Americans David Strathairn, Anne Pitoniak, Keira Naughton and Eric Martin Brown complete the cast, and Sean Mathias directs.

The terms of the West End Leisure Parking Scheme, run in association with the Society Of London Theatre, have been revised to make it easier to use and better value. It is now available to both theatre and cinema lovers, at seven central car parks, for periods of up to nine hours (between 9am and midnight) on the day of the performance. To take advantage simply present ticket stubs to the cashier on leaving to obtain the discounted rate. Full details can be found on the MasterPark web site via the Online Guides section of TheatreNet.

Griff Rhys Jones stars in Graeme Garden's adaptation of Georges Feydeau's farce Horse & Carriage which opens at the West Yorkshire Playhouse Leeds on 2nd November. The story concerns a bridegroom who has to contend with a reluctant bride, a suicidal rival, a wild sailor and a pet seal. Deborah Norton directs.

Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues makes one of the fastest comebacks since Lazarus when it returns to the West End at the Arts Theatre on 22nd October. Continuing the policy of a constantly rotating trio of female celebrities, it will feature Sohpie Dahl making her speaking debut, Miriam Margolyes and Sian Phillips for the first four weeks. The show is produced in London by Sally Greene for Old Vic Productions and Mark Goucher and presented by arrangement with David Stone.

The Pleasance London is presenting the first London Edinburgh Fringe Festival from 7th to 28th October, bringing to London new talent and old favourites seen at its Edinburgh sibling, one of the main Fringe venues. Highlights include: Hollow Men: A Tribute, Ben Moor, Cabaret Whores, Nicholas Parsons Happy Hour, The Legendary Polowski Diamond Heist and The Weird Sisters Get Around. Full details can be found on the Pleasance web site via the link from the London Theatres section of TheatreNet.

Lea Salonga and Jose Llana will star in the world premiere of a new version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song, to be staged at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles on 2nd October. Playwright David Henry Hwang and director choreographer Robert Longbottom have revised the rarely performed show, which is set in the Chinese-American community of 1950s San Francisco. It has not been seen in London since the original 1960 production.

The Rumour Machine says: that Morgan Freeman will play Othello for the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of its move towards star driven productions; that the current Broadway hit musical version of The Full Monty, which relocates the action to Buffalo NY, will reach London next March, opening at the Prince Of Wales Theatre; that Kate Winslet may make her stage debut for Sam Mendes at the Donmar Warehouse in a double bill with Nicole Kidman; and that Donald Margulies Dinner With Friends, seen at Hampstead Theatre earlier this year with Kevin Anderson, Samantha Bond, Elizabeth McGovern and Rolf Saxon, is aiming for a West End transfer early next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.

And Finally . . . The League of American Producers and Theatres has launched an ambitious marketing campaign to win back the tourist audience to Broadway under the slogan Lets Go On With The Show. Elements include a donation to Mayor Giuliani's Twin Towers Fund for all tickets sold this week, and a television advert in which every actor in every show on Broadway stands in the middle of Times Square and sings New York, New York. The response by London producers and theatres to an expected downturn in business here is to ask the casts and staff of West End shows to take a pay cut. What better demonstration of the contrast in entrepreneurial spirit?