News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 28th December 2012

Elsewhere, it is customary at this time to look back over the past year, and review triumphs and failures. Well we don't do that because we're more interested in the future than the past, so the tradition here is to look forward to what will happen in the West End - all based on hard, solid, um, er, rumour.

Don Evans's One Monkey Don't Stop No Show, where a respected middle class Black family in 1970's Philadelphia find their life turned on its head by the arrival of a young niece and her radical ideas from the rural South, directed by Dawn Walton, at the Tricycle Theatre . . . the Hampstead Theatre production of David Hare's The Judas Kiss, about the fall from grace of Oscar Wilde, focussing on the eve of his arrest and the night after his release from two years imprisonment, with Rupert Everett, Freddie Fox, Cal Macaninch, Ben Hardy, Kirsty Oswald, Alister Cameron and Tom Colley, directed by Neil Armfield, will transfer to the Duke of York's Theatre . . . Henry James's The Turn Of The Screw, adapted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, in which young governess charged with the care of two small children in a grand country house, becomes convinced that they are communing with ghosts, with Gemma Jones, Anna Madeley and Orlando Wells, directed by Lindsay Posner, will open at the Almeida Theatre . . . Amelia Bullmore's Di And Viv And Rose, about university friends as they progress through life, with Tamsin Outhwaite, Gina McKee and Anna Maxwell Martin, directed by Anna Mackmin, will open at Hampstead Theatre . . . Simon Gray's Quartermaine's Terms, which follows a hopeless English Language teacher at a Cambridge private school for overseas students through the terms of the academic year, with Rowan Atkinson, Conleth Hill, Will Keen, Felicity Montagu and Malcolm Sinclair, directed by Richard Eyre, will open at Wyndham's Theatre . . . Tango Fire: Flames Of Desire, a journey through the history of Tango, will open at the Peacock Theatre . . . Harold Pinter's Old Times, in which a couple are visited by an old friend and discuss incidents that may or may not have happened in their past, with Rufus Sewell, and Lia Williams and Kristin Scott Thomas alternating in the other roles, directed by Ian Rickson, will open at the Harold Pinter Theatre . . . and Anjin: The Shogun And The English Samurai, by Mike Poulton with Shoichiro Kawai, the epic story of William Adams, an English maritime pilot believed to be the first Englishman ever to reach Japan, who became adviser to the powerful Shogun Tokugawa, at the heart of a dangerous clash of cultures and struggle for power, performed by a cast of Japanese and English actors, including Masachika Ichimura, Stephen Boxer and Yuki Furukawa, directed by Gregory Doran, will open at Sadler's Wells - all in January . . .

Feast, written by playwrights from 5 countries, Yunior Garcia Aguilera, Rotimi Babatunde, Marcos Barbosa, Tanya Barfield and Gbolahan Obises, about Yoruba culture, tradition and religion as it moved through slavery from West Africa to the Americas and Europe, from Nigeria in the 1700s through Brazil, Cuba and United States to London in 2013, directed by Rufus Norris, with choreography by George Cespedes, will open at the Young Vic Theatre . . . Carl Zuckmayer's The Captain Of Kopenick, telling the true story of an ex-convict, who uses the power of a military uniform to assume command of his town and raid its treasury, with Antony Sher, directed by Adrian Noble, will open at the National Theatre . . . Midnight Tango, set in a late-night bar in downtown Buenos Aires, with Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace, and Russell Grant, joined by 10 international Tango dancers, choreographed by Simone and Cacace, directed by Karen Bruce, will open at the Phoenix Theatre . . . Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, in a new adaptation by Jo Clifford, with Paula Wilcox, Paul Nivison, Grace Rowe, Jack Ellis and Chris Ellison, directed by Graham McLaren, will open at the Vaudeville Theatre . . . A Chorus Line, originally conceived, directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett, book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Dante, music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, which charts the lives and dreams of a group of dancers as they audition for a new Broadway show, with Scarlett Strallen, Leigh Zimmerman, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and John Partridge, directed and choreographed by original co-choreographer Bob Avian, will open at the London Palladium . . . Shakespeare's Macbeth, with James McAvoy, directed by Jamie Lloyd, will open at Trafalgar Studios 1 . . . Anders Lustgarten's If You Don't Let Us Dream, We Won't Let You Sleep, which criticises the ethos of austerity and offers an alternative, grappling with the complex question of national debt, directed by Simon Godwin, will open at the Royal Court Theatre . . . and Arthur Wing Pinero's Trelawny Of The Wells, about an actress who finds it hard to leave the stage when she marries into society, adapted by Patrick Marber, with Daniel Mays, Susannah Fielding, Maggie Steed, Jamie Beamish, Ron Cook, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Daniel Kaluuya, Fergal Mcelherron, Amy Morgan, Joshua Silver and Peter Wight, directed by Joe Wright, will open at the Donmar Warehouse - all in February . . .

Peter Morgan's The Audience, which charts the Queen's relationships with her 12 Prime Ministers through their weekly meetings, with Helen Mirren, Robert Hardy, Michael Elwyn, Haydn Gwynne, Paul Ritter, Nathaniel Parker and Rufus Wright, directed by Stephen Daldry, will open at the Gielgud Theatre . . . Philip Himberg's Paper Dolls, adapted from the documentary film by Tomer Heymann, about Filipino immigrants working as carers in Tel Aviv who perform a musical drag act on their day off, directed Indhu Rubasingham, will open at the Tricycle Theatre . . . William Boyd's Longing, a tale of 19th century Russian life, based on two short stories by Anton Chekhov, directed by Nina Raine, will open at Hampstead Theatre . . . Burn The Floor, encompassing all kinds of dance from Viennese Waltz and Quickstep, through Tango, Samba, Mambo and Paso Doble, to Lindy Hop and Jive, featuring Robin Windsor and Kristina Rihanoff, plus 20 ballroom dancers from around the world, directed and choreographed by Jason Gilkison, will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre . . . the National Theatre production of Simon Stephens's adaptation of Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, about a 15 year old boy on the autism spectrum living in Swindon, with Luke Treadaway, Matthew Barker, Niamh Cusack, Sophie Duval, Rhiannon Harper-Rafferty, Nick Sidi and Howard Ward, directed by Marianne Elliott, will open at the Apollo Theatre . . . Terence Rattigan's The Winslow Boy, in which the defence of a boy expelled from school for stealing becomes a cause celebre, directed by Lindsay Posner, will open at the Old Vic Theatre . . . the Kneehigh Theatre Company/West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Steptoe And Son, featuring the characters from the television series by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson about two rag and bone men, adapted and directed by Emma Rice, with Dean Nolan and Mike Shepherd, will open at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith . . . The Book Of Mormon, book, music and lyrics by Trey Parker, Matt Stone and Robert Lopez, telling the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent off to spread the word in a dangerous part of Uganda, with Jared Gertner and Gavin Creel, co-directed by Trey Parker and Casey Nicholaw, who also choreographed, will open at the Prince of Wales Theatre . . . Rodney Ackland's Before The Party, about middle class guilt and duplicity in the wake of the Second World War, adapted from a short story by W Somerset Maugham, directed by Matthew Dunster, will open at the Almeida Theatre . . . John Logan's Peter And Alice, charting the real life meeting of the inspirations for Alice In Wonderland and Peter Pan, with Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw, directed by Michael Grandage, will open at the Noel Coward Theatre and Bruce Norris's The Low Road, a 'fable of free market economics and cut-throat capitalism', telling the story of a young entrepreneur who sets out on a quest for wealth with priceless ambition and a purse of gold, directed by Dominic Cooke, will open at Royal Court Theatre - all in March . . .

Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, in a version by Simon Stephens, in which a woman rebels against the confines of her marriage, with Hattie Morahan, Dominic Rowan, Nick Fletcher, Yolanda Kettle and Steve Toussaint, directed by Carrie Cracknell, will return to the Young Vic Theatre . . . Once, adapted from John Carney's 2006 film about a struggling Irish street musician who makes music with an Eastern European immigrant, book by Enda Walsh, score by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, directed by John Tiffany, with musical staging by Steven Hoggett, will open at the Phoenix Theatre . . . The Doktor Glas, adapted by Allan Edwall from Hjalmer Soderberg's novel about a 19th century physician who falls madly in love with the beautiful young wife of a corrupt clergyman, with Krister Henriksson, co-directed by Henriksson and Peder Bjurman, will open at Wyndham's Theatre . . . and Connor McPherson's The Weir, in which men in a pub swap ghost stories, directed by Josie Rourke, will open at the Donmar Warehouse - all in April . . .

ZooNation's Some Like It Hip Hop, conceived, directed and choreographed by Kate Prince, music and lyrics by DJ Walde, Josh Cohen and Kate Prince, inspired by Billy Wilder's film Some Like It Hot and Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, with choreography by Tommy Franzen, Ryan Chappell and Carrie-Anne Ingrouille, will open at the Peacock Theatre . . . Henrik Ibsen's Public Enemy, in a new version by David Harrower, exploring political accountability and expediency, as one man makes a stand against a community, directed by Richard Jones, will open at the Young Vic Theatre . . . Peter Nicholls's Passion Play, which charts how a 25 year old marriage falls apart when the husband has an affair with a younger woman, with Zoe Wanamaker, directed by David Leveaux, will open at the Duke of York's Theatre . . . Alan Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking, involving mistaken identities and a misplaced marriage proposal, with Felicity Kendal, Kara Tointon, Max Bennett and Jonathan Coy, directed by Lindsay Posner, will open at Wyndham's Theatre . . . Lucy Kirkwood's Chimerica, about a journalist and a secret history, directed by Lyndsey Turner, will open at the Almeida Theatre . . . and the courtroom drama To Kill A Mockingbird, adapted by Christopher Sergel from Harper Lee's novel about prejudice in a small southern town during the American great depression of the 1930s directed by Timothy Sheader, will open at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park - all in May . . .

Tennessee Williams's Sweet Bird Of Youth, about an ageing film star's relationship with a gigolo hellbent on achieving his own movie stardom, with Kim Cattrall, directed by Marianne Elliott, will open at the Old Vic Theatre . . . Martin McDonagh's The Cripple Of Inishmaan, in which a young man desperate to break away from the tedium of daily life tries to achieve his dream, with Daniel Radcliffe, directed by Michael Grandage, will open at the Noel Coward Theatre . . . Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice, adapted by Simon Reade, will open at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park . . . Roald Dahl's Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, the story of a boy who wins the chance to visit the mysterious Willy Wonka's idiosyncratic sweet manufacturing plant, book by David Greig, music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman, with Douglas Hodge, directed by Sam Mendes, with choreography by Peter Darling, will open at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane . . . and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale will open at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park - all in June . . .

Aime Cesaire's A Season In The Congo, charting the rise and fall of Patrice Lumumba in the struggle for independence from Belgium in 1960, with Chiwetel Ejiofor, directed by Joe Wright, will open at the Young Vic Theatre . . . and We're Going On A Bear Hunt, the children's picture book written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, about a family's adventures in search of a bear, adapted and directed by Sally Cookson, with a score by Benji Bower, will open at the Lyric Theatre - both in July . . .

The Sound Of Music, music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, based on the book The Von Trapp Family Singers by Maria Von Trapp, about her experiences as a novice nun falling in love with a widowed naval captain and his children in 1930s Austria, directed by Timothy Sheader, will open at the Open Air Theatre Regent's Park . . . and West Side Story, the musical relocating the story of Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet to Hell's Kitchen in 1950s New York, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and choreography by Jerome Robbins, directed by Joey McKneely, will open at Sadler's Wells - both in August . . .

American Lulu, adapted from Alban Berg's opera Lulu by Olga Neuwirth, setting the story against the backdrop of the civil rights movement in 1950s New Orleans, directed by John Fulljames, will open at the Young Vic Theatre . . . Clive Exton's Barking In Essex, a black comedy about a gangster newly released from prison intent on retrieving the loot from his last job, with Lee Evans and Sheila Hancock, directed by Harry Burton, will open at Wyndham's Theatre . . . Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, with Sheridan Smith and David Walliams, directed by Michael Grandage, will open at the Noel Coward Theatre . . . and Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, with James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave, directed by Mark Rylance, will open at the Old Vic Theatre - all in September . . .

From Here To Eternity, James Jones's novel set in Hawaii just before the Japanese invasion in 1941, book by Bill Oakes, music and lyrics by Stuart Brayson, with additional lyrics by Tim Rice, directed by Tamara Harvey, will open at the Shaftesbury Theatre - in October . . .

Shakespeare's Henry V, with Jude Law, directed by Michael Grandage, will open at the Noel Coward Theatre - in December . . .

On the way from Broadway: Newsies, adapted from the 1992 Disney film inspired by the real life Newsboy Strike of 1899, book by Harvey Fierstein, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Jack Feldman, directed by Jeff Calhoun, with choreography by Christopher Gattelli . . . the Lincoln Center Theater production of Jon Robin Baitz's Other Desert Cities, a family drama that takes place over the course of a Christmas Eve, with a former matinee idol turned politician, his screenwriter wife and their novelist daughter, who has written an unflattering memoir, directed by Joe Mantello, with Stockard Channing and Stacy Keach reprising their roles as the parents . . . the New York Theatre Workshop production of the play with music Peter And The Starcatcher, by Rick Elice, music by Wayne Barker, adapted from Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's 'prequel' to J M Barrie's Peter Pan, with a company of 12 portraying 50 characters, directed by Roger Rees and Alex Timbers, with musical staging by Stephen Hoggett . . . Theresa Rebeck's Seminar, a dark comedy about a world famous novelist giving a seminar to four young writers, with Alan Rickman, directed by Sam Gold . . . [title of show], the musical telling of the trials and tribulations of two struggling writers creating a show for the New York Musical Theatre Festival, featuring the writers, Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell, together with Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff, directed by Michael Berresse . . . the New York Shakespeare In The Park production of The Merchant Of Venice, with Al Pacino, directed by Daniel Sullivan . . . the Roundabout Theatre Company revue Sondheim On Sondheim, featuring the songs of Stephen Sondheim, punctuated with interview footage of the writer discussing his work, conceived and directed by John Weidman . . . Roger Bean's Off Broadway musical The Marvellous Wonderettes, set at 1958 High School prom, and a reunion 10 years later, as four girls find life didn't turn out like they planned, using songs of the period. . . and Carrie Fisher's darkly comic autobiographical solo show Wishful Drinking, directed by Tony Taccone . . .

Looking for a West End home after regional/fringe productions/tours: the Curve Leicester production of Finding Neverland, about J M Barrie's inspiration for Alice In Wonderland, book by Allan Knee from his original novel, music by Scott Frankel, lyrics by Michael Korie, directed by Rob Ashford . . . and 9 To 5, the musical adaptation of the 1980 film about three secretaries taking revenge on their chauvinist boss, with a book by Patricia Resnick, from her screenplay, and music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, with Jackie Clune, Natalie Casey, Amy Lennox, Bonnie Langford and Ben Richards, directed by Jeff Calhoun . . .

In the pipeline: a new West End production of the Claude-Michel Schonberg-Alain Boublil musical Miss Saigon, which relocates the story of Madam Butterfly to the Vietnam War, following a new production in Japan, directed by Laurence Connor . . . Imelda Staunton may star in a West End production of the quintessential American musical Gypsy, about the mother of 'ecdysiast' Gypsy Rose Lee, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim . . . Matthew Bourne is working on a dance adaptation of William Golding's Lord Of The Flies for his New Adventures company . . .

Still possibly alive, and may yet start kicking, these were predicted for the West End in '12 (some in earlier years - even the last century) and could make it in '13: a Bollywood style musical based on the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham, book and direction by Gurinder Chadha, music by Howard Goodall, lyrics by Charles Hart . . . the West Yorkshire Playhouse/Northampton Theatres production of David Wood and Richard Taylor's musical adaptation of L P Hartley's The Go Between, in which a young boy comes of age as he is unwittingly enlisted as a messenger in an adult affair of deceit and desire, at the turn of the 20th century, directed by Roger Haines . . . a musical adaptation of the 2010 film Made In Dagenham, about the 1968 Ford factory women's strike, book by Richard Bean, music by David Arnold, lyrics by Richard Thomas, directed by Rupert Goold . . . Baz Lurman's stage adaptation of his 1992 film Strictly Ballroom, featuring an original score . . . Lee Hall and Elton John's musical adaptation of George Orwell's allegorical novel Animal Farm . . . and James Dearden's stage adaptation of his screenplay for the 1987 film Fatal Attraction . . . a revised version of the 1981 Tony Award winning musical Dreamgirls, book and lyrics by Tom Eyen, and music by Henry Krieger, portraying the backstage drama surrounding the rise to fame of a '60s Motown style girl group, previously unseen in this country . . . the Off Broadway musical Altar Boyz, conceived by Ken Davenport and Mark Kessler, book by Kevin Del Aguila, music and lyrics by Gary Adler and Michael Patrick Walter, which satirises the unlikely mixture of boy bands and religion, the musical Minsky's, book by Bob Martin, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, about the burlesque king Billy Minsky, about the burlesque king Billy Minsky, directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw . . . Vanessa Redgrave and Eileen Atkins may star in The Spare Room, Atkins's stage adaptation of Helen Garner's novella about a woman caring for a female friend dying of cancer . . . Gwyneth Paltrow may feature in Chekhov's Three Sisters . . . the Broadway musical Grey Gardens, book by Doug Wright, music by Scott Frankel, lyrics by Michael Korie, telling the extraordinary story of the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and how they came to live in a derelict mansion in East Hampton, with Christine Ebersole . . . Xanadu, the Broadway musical based on the 1980 film, book by Douglas Carter Beane, and original film score by John Farrar and Jeff Lynne, about a Greek muse, sent to Earth to inspire mortals in California in the 1980s, who falls in love with an artist while helping him realise his dream of opening a roller disco . . . Disney's stage adaptation of The Little Mermaid, based on the 1989 film about a mermaid who falls in love with a human and wants to live on land, book by Doug Wright, music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Glen Slater and Howard Ashman . . . All About Eve, a stage adaptation of the 1950 film inspired by Mary Orr's backstage story of an over ambitious understudy, (not the musical version Applause) . . . Jeffrey Archer's stage adaptation of A Prison Diary, the memoir about his time in clink . . . the Mark Bramble-Michael Stewart-Cy Coleman circus musical Barnum, about the American showman P T Barnum. . . Conor McPherson's stage adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's short story The Birds, set in a coastal town where birds start to attack people . . . Jonathan Lynn is working on a stage adaptation of Marina Lewycka's novel A Short History Of Tractors In The Ukraine . . . Jim Steinman is working with book writer Stephen Clarke on a multimedia Cirque du Soleil style show based on his songs from Meatloaf's three Bat Out Of Hell albums . . . Lee Hall is working on a stage musical adaptation of Pink Floyd's album The Wall, which will also contain other back catalogue numbers and new material by Roger Waters . . . Andrew Lippa's musical The Wild Party, based on Joseph Moncure March's 1928 poem about a decadent evening in the apartment of two vaudevillians . . . Christopher Hampton's 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. . . Cyrano, a musical version of Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, and music by Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn. . . Nicole Kidman may return to the West End as Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, directed by Daniel Kramer . . . Natalie Portman may star in Richard Greenberg's The American Plan, a story of five outsiders in 1960s America, directed by David Grindley . . . Ashley Judd may star in Lanford Wilson's Burn This, exploring the loneliness and dissatisfaction of a group of friends attempting to make sense of the accidental death of one of their own . . . a stage version of The King Of Comedy, adapted and directed by Jeremy Sams, from Martin Scorsese's 1983 film about a man obsessed with becoming a comedian, who kidnaps his talk show host idol in order to perform his stand-up routine for him . . . Ralph Fiennes as Hamlet again, directed by Adrian Noble, at an off West End venue . . . Hans Christian Andersen, Maury Yeston's new stage musical based on the biofilm, with a score by Frank Loesser . . . a stage musical version of Frank Capra's 1946 Christmas film It's A Wonderful Life, with book by Francis Matthews, and music and lyrics by Steve Brown . . . and Disney's first original stage musical Aida, based on the same legend that inspired Verdi, with book by Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls and David Henry Hwang, music by Elton John, and lyrics by Tim Rice.