News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 28th October 2005

The favourites scored heavily in the Theatrical Management Association Awards, the only awards for excellence in regional theatre, with the Crucible Theatre Sheffield leading the field. Among the winners were Chichester Festival Theatre's How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying: Best Musical; the Watermill Theatre Newbury's Mack And Mabel: Best Musical Performance - Anna Jane-Casey; the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre's Sex, Chips And Rock 'n' Roll: Best Supporting Musical Performance - Tracie Bennett; and the Crucible Theatre Sheffield's Lear: Best Play Performance - Ian McDiarmid, Blue/Orange: Best Supporting Play Performance - Jimmy Akingbola, and Don Carlos: Best Director - Michael Grandage. The nominees were chosen from over 1,000 productions seen by a panel of 150 regular theatregoers from across the country. The full list of nominees and winners can be found on the TMA web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Perfect Crime, the longest running Off Broadway show, which for 14 years has been playing at the Duffy Theatre (the only Off Broadway theatre actually on Broadway, at Times Square) has moved up a few blocks to a new venue, The Snapple Theater Center, 1627 Broadway at 50th Street. The show still features original cast member Catherine Russell, who is now also general manager and looks after the running of the theatre - this is Off Broadway after all. Russell has played all but four of over 7,500 performances (only missing those to attend siblings' weddings). Also currently in the cast are David Butler, Stephen Clarke, Jay Nickerson and Patrick Robustelli. The show, written by Warren Manzi, and directed by Jeffrey Hyatt, is a mystery thriller in which a psychiatrist's wife is accused of murdering her wealthy but unwell husband.

Norwich Puppet Theatre starts its 25th anniversary season with two contrasting shows over the Christmas period, from 3rd December to the 21st January. Its own production of Roald Dahl's George's Marvellous Medicine tells the story of a poor boy with a grouchy granny, who transforms his life, his family's fortune - and his granny - performed by Luis Boy and Jonathan Hayes, using rod and shadow puppets. Belgian company Theater Taptoe performs Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, using body, shadow and rod puppets. In addition to performances, there are workshops teaching how to make stick, marionette, rod and glove puppets, together with others on clowning and clay masks.

The award winning Shunt theatre company, which made its name through innovative site specific shows in unusual venues, is presenting its second show in London Bridge Vaults, a 70,00sq ft labyrinth of railway arches that has been a bonded wine vault for the last 100 years. Amato Saltone, 'an eccentric, paranoid view of the metropolis, full of suspense, mistaken identity', inspired by the work of pulp magazine mystery fiction writer Cornell Woolrich, opens on 24th November. The company's founder members and core artists are Layla Aldridge, Serena Bobowski, Gemma Brockis, Lizzie Clachan, Louise Mari, Hannah Ringham, David Rosenberg, Andrew Rutland, Mischa Twitchin and Heather Uprichard. Further information can be found on the Shunt web site via the link from the Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Royal Shakespeare Company Casting Couch: Sian Phillips, Neve McIntosh, Tobias Beer, Richard Bremner, Philip Cumbus, Gwendoline Christie, Sophie Duval, Julius D'Silva, Brian Doherty, Ruth Everett, Robert Hastie, Emma Lowndes, Philip McGinley, Adam Newsome, Samuel Roukin, Roger Sloman and Jem Wall star in Charles Dickens's Great Expectations opening in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre on 6th December; and Paola Dionisotti, Claire Benedict, Michael Jibson, Nick Barber, Daon Broni, Dylan Charles, Lisa Ellis, Christopher Godwin, Michael Hadley, Anna Hewson, Edward Hughes, Michael Mateus, Barry McCarthy, Chu Omabala, Ian Pirie, Joshua Richards, Christopher Saul, Katherine Tozer and Darren Tunstall star in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales opening in the Swan Theatre on 8th December.

Wilton's Music Hall has commissioned an 'adult' alternative Christmas comedy, Super / Naughty Xxxmas Story, by Russell Barr, which will play from 1st to 31st December. Barr also stars, with Joanna Scanlan, Denise Leigh and Lisa Hammond, in the tale of a catastrophic Christmas on a damp Scottish island with no electricity and twelve Jack Russell Terriers.

Though the season of performances has drawn to a close, Shakespeare's Globe moves indoors to continue its programme of staged readings of rarely performed Elizabethan plays on Sunday afternoons in its Education Centre. It starts on 13th November with The Virgin Martyr, by Thomas Dekker and Philip Massinger, about the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Diocletian, based on the legend of St Dorothea. Each reading is preceded at 12noon by an introduction to its background.

The 28th London International Mime Festival runs from 11th to 29th January, and features 18 companies from around the world spanning the full range of visual theatre, including leading exponents of mime, animation, circus, puppetry, clowning juggling and vaudeville, together with a programme of talks and workshops. International performers include Belgian Mossoux Bonte's Twin Houses, a wordless monologue for one performer and five mannequins; French juggler Adrien Mondot, who mixes actual and virtual juggling; physical theatre company Theatre Du Mouvement; and Faulty Optic's Horsehead. Performances are at the Battersea Arts Centre, Barbican, ICA, Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House and South Bank Centre. Further information can be found on the LIMF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Dawn French and Alison Moyet are to star in Smaller, a play with music by television writer Carmel Morgan, which is a wistful comedy on the theme of 'the grass is always greener', directed by Kathy Burke, hoping for a West End run early next year; that Simon Callow is to star in Noel Coward's Present Laughter, directed by Michael Rudman, arriving in the West End next autumn; and that Christopher Hampton is writing a play based on William Dalrymple's novel White Mughals, about the East India Company at the turn of the 18th century, in which a Muslim princess falls in love with an English officer, to be staged at the National Theatre in 2007. The Rumour Machine grinds on.