News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 28th November 2003

The Barbican has announced further events in its BITE:04 season including: the British premiere of David Edgar's Continental Divide, two individual plays sharing the same characters, Mothers Against and Daughters Of The Revolution, which debate political issues in contemporary America, performed by the original American cast; from Germany, A Doll's House - Nora, a new translation of Ibsen's play by Hinrich Schmidt-Henkel, starring Anne Tismer, directed by Thomas Ostermeier; The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain with renditions of music by amongst others Charlie Parker, the Sex Pistols, and Bach; and Marie Brassard, a collaborator of Robert Lepage, in Jimmy, a solo performance shifting between fantasy and reality to present a dream world with a life of its own.

Owing to restoration work on Nicholas Hawkesmoor's Christ Church, its usual home, this year's Spitalfields Winter Festival will centre on Shoreditch Church, from 9th to 19th December. It will explore the sound of the festive season through the centuries, from some of the earliest written Christmas music right up to the present day, with premieres presented by the Society for the Promotion of New Music, employing musical forces ranging from local residents and workers to the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, and the opportunity for the audience to join in with the London Adventist Chorale. All this, plus bell ringing, free events, walks, talks, workshops and exhibitions about the Spitalfields and Shorditch area and the restoration of Christ Church, one of the great baroque churches of Europe. Further information can be found on the Spitalfields Festival web site via the link form the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

A contemporary multimedia presentation of Milton's Paradise Lost will play at the Bristol Old Vic from 30th January to 21st February. The story of Satan's attempt to destroy earth by corrupting Adam and Eve will be brought to life with music, film and aerial choreography, by director David Farr, movement director Isabel Rocamora, composer Keith Clouston, film maker Ben Hopkins and designers Ti Green, Hartley T. A. Kemp and Jason Barnes.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, after 18 years and over 7,500 performances, Les Miserables will close at the Palace Theatre on Saturday 27th March, and re-open at the Queen's Theatre in early April. The producer Cameron Mackintosh owns the freehold of Queen's, which is currently leased to Really Useful Theatres until 2006, but they have agreed to hand back the building two years early. The show is written by Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer, and directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Booking at the Queen's is not yet open.

Actor Douglas Hodge, who has appeared in a number of plays by Harold Pinter, will make his directorial debut with Pinter's The Dumb Waiter, a one act play starring Jason Watkins and Toby Jones, which opens a regional tour at the Oxford Playhouse on 12th February. The 'comedy' is about two apparent hit men, who are waiting in a basement for instructions on their next assignment. It forms part of a bill of Pinter's early work, which also features another one acter Victoria Station, and some rarely performed sketches.

On The Casting Couch: David Burt, Jack Chissick, Hadley Fraser and Kathryn Evans will join Anthony Head in the season of Peter Pan and The Pirates Of Penzance, directed by Steven Dexter, opening at the Savoy Theatre on 17th December; Jonny Lee Miller and Lisa Palfrey will star in Festen, directed by Rufus Norris, at the Almeida Theatre on 18th March; and Sian Brooke will join Matthew Rhys in Romeo And Juliet, directed by Peter Gill, at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford on 25th March.

Jailhouse Rock - The Musical opens a prospective pre West End tour at the Theatre Royal Plymouth on 20th February. Based on the 1957 film that established Elvis Presley's international career, it is the story of the transformation of a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks into a Rock and Roll megastar, with a talent forged in the harsh environment of a State Penitentiary.

The James Menzies-Kitchin Memorial Trust is inviting applications for the 2004 Young Theatre Director's Award. The Trust was formed in 1996 with the aim of assisting young untried directors. A Bursary of £6,000 is awarded, together with help and support, and a space at the Battersea Arts Centre to enable the recipient to direct a classic text of their choice for a three week run. Applicants must be British theatre professionals under the age of 30 who have directed no more than two professional productions. The deadline for applications is 12th January. Further information can be found by calling 01608 662153 or on the JMK Trust web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Wendy Craig, Josephine Tewson and Frank Middelmass star in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Christopher Luscombe, which opens a prospective pre West End tour at the New Victoria Theatre Woking on 28th January. The show is Theatre Royal Bath Production.

The Rumour Machine says: that American television actor Luke Perry is to star in a stage version of the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, adapted by Marcy Kahan, directed by Loveday Ingram, opening at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in February; that Edward Hall is to direct Calico, a new play Michael Hastings, for his Propellor company next year, and David Hare's Pravda for Scamp Theatre Company in 2005; that following the solo bio shows by Elaine Stritch and Bea Arthur, musical theatre veteran Chita Rivera is working on a show with writer Terence McNally and director Graciela Daniele which will workshop next summer; and that among the classics Peter Hall is considering for the inaugural season at the Kingston Theatre, which is scheduled to open next October, are Much Ado About Nothing, and Chekhov's The Seagull and The Cherry Orchard. The Rumour Machine grinds on.