News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th January 2010

Despite the current economic situation, figures released by the Society Of London Theatre reveal that West End theatre enjoyed a record breaking year in 2009. There were 14,257,922 tickets sold, up 5.5% on the previous record of 13,807,286 set in 2008, while box office revenue totalled 504,765,690, up 7.6% from 480,563,674 in 2008, generating over 75m in VAT for the Treasury. It is the 7th consecutive year that new attendance and revenues records have been set. The figures were particularly impressive for plays, which achieved a record attendance total of 3,637,714, a huge 26% up on 2008. As in previous recessions, it seems that the Great British Public is showing a 'determination to be entertained', with domestic 'staycations', and foreign visitors encouraged by the fall in the Pound, boosting summer attendances, and the Christmas period being particularly strong.

The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm will hold CircusFest 2010, an international contemporary circus festival, from 7th April to 16th May. It will include several world and British premieres, with appearances by Trash City, Sugar Beast Circus, Compagnie XY, Marisa Carnesky, Slightly Fat Features, Circolombia and Acrobat,. Events will also include Gerry Cottle talking about his life in the circus, a symposium on Human Oddities, Vanessa Toulmin with an overview of the world of illegitimate entertainment culture, and a series of circus themed films, in partnership with the British Film Institute.

New York TheatreNet: The Live Theatre Newcastle production of Lee Hall's The Pitmen Painters, which tells the true story of a group of Ashington coal miners in the 1930s who invited a professor to give them art appreciation classes, directed by Max Roberts, currently at the National Theatre, will transfer to Broadway, with the original cast, comprising Christopher Connel, Michael Hodgson, Ian Kelly, Brian Lonsdale, Lisa McGrillis, Deka Walmsley, David Whitaker and Phillippa Wilson, opening in September at the Samuel J Friedman Theatre. News, information and special offers about theatre on and off Broadway, can be found on New York TheatreNet, via the link opposite below.

Holding The Man by Tommy Murphy, adapted from Tim Conigrave's memoir of the same name, about being young and gay in Australia in the 1970s, with Australian television actress Jane Turner, directed by David Berthold, will open at Trafalgar Studios 1 on 4th May. The producers are Daniel Sparrow and Mike Walsh.

Stage One is inviting applications for The Apprentice Scheme For New Producers. It is an opportunity for new producers to get one year's paid training in a commercial producer's office in London. Applicants must have at least one year's practical experience in theatre administration or production, and be committed to a career in commercial theatre production. The award is up to 15,000 to cover expenses for the year. The closing date for applications is 8th March. Further information and an application form can be found on the Stage One web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Following concert performances at Carnegie Hall in New York last autumn, the musical Kristina, music by Benny Andersson, lyrics by Bjorn Ulvaeus, and English lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, with Helen Sjoholm, who originated the title role in the Swedish premiere, Russell Watson, Louise Pitre and Kevin Odekirk, directed by Lars Rudolfsson, will be staged at the Royal Albert Hall on 14th April. The show is based on four novels by Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg, about the lives of immigrants from the south of Sweden to America in the 1850s.

The spring season at the Watermill Theatre in Newbury will include: Tom Stoppard's translation of Gerald Sibleyras's Heroes, set in a military veterans' hospital in 1959, where three inmates are planning their escape, with Christopher Ettridge, David Fielder and Michael Hadley, directed by Paul Hart, from 11th February; Polly Teale's Bronte, a glimpse into the life, mind and works of the Bronte family, directed by Nancy Meckler, a co-production with Shared Experience, from 15th April; and Denise Deegan's schoolgirl saga Daisy Pulls It Off, set in 1927, and following the trials and tribulations of a working class scholarship girl at a public school, directed by Orla O'Loughlin, from 3rd June.

Naxos, the world's largest independent classical music label is streaming concerts, opera, ballet and documentaries to online subscribers at the Naxos Video Library, from 1st February. Beginning with 250 full length videos, available in two formats for PC and Mac computers, with subtitles in 5 languages, the number of titles is expected to double within the first 3 months. Further information can be found on the NVL web site via the link from Webcasts in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Alison Chitty: Design Process 1970 - 2010 is the new exhibition running at the National Theatre from 1st February to 28th March. Every designer works in a different way, and this exhibition shows us the process of award winning designer Alison Chitty, who is also the director of the renowned Motley Theatre Design Course. She has designed for the theatre for 40 years, in many different kinds of performance spaces, from small studios to international opera houses, and also for film. Using landmark productions, including The Voysey Inheritance, Khovanshchina and The Minotaur, the exhibition follows her process, from the first sketch book to final designs. This is a unique opportunity to view work normally only seen in the studio, rehearsal room and workshops.

The Rumour Machine says: that the current Menier Chocolate Factory production of the Neil Simon-Cy Coleman-Dorothy Fields musical Sweet Charity, with Tamzin Outhwaite and Mark Umbers, will transfer to the West End when its run ends in March; that the stage adaptation of Flashdance, the 1983 film about a welder and part time exotic dancer who dreams of winning a place at a dance school and becoming a ballet dancer, choreographed by Arlene Phillips, which toured in 2008, may make another bid for the West End, courtesy of producer David Ian; and that the recent Broadway production of the Arthur Laurents-Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim musical Gypsy, with Patti LuPone, may be London bound. The Rumour Machine grinds on.