News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th April 2005

The 111th season of the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts takes place at the Royal Albert Hall between 15th July and 10th September. The world's greatest classical music festival centres on 74 main concerts (at least one every evening) with consistently low ticket prices, including 500 'promming' tickets at only 4 each, available every day 30 minutes before the doors open. In addition, there is a series of Pre-Prom and Background talks at the RAH and the Royal Geographical Society, lunch time Chamber Music Proms at the Cadogan Hall, Late Night Proms starting at 10pm, and new this year, Sunday afternoon films at the RGS. All concerts are broadcast live on Radio 3, with more than ever before televised on BBC4, and via audio and video webcasts. The three themes this year are: 'Fairy Tales', acknowledging the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen; 'The Sea', celebrating the Year of the Sea, 200 years after Trafalgar; and 'Composer Anniversaries', marking Tippett's 100th and various others from Tallis and Carissimi to Rawsthorne and Lambert, Berg and Berio. The Last Night, with Paul Daniel making his conducting debut, will include the 10th outdoor Proms In The Park, with 35,000 people in Hyde Park, and simultaneous concerts running in Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester and Swansea. All five events culminate in live big screen link ups with the Royal Albert Hall. Further information can be found on the BBC Proms web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

American screen actor Rob Lowe will make his West End debut in Aaron Sorkin's new version of his 1980s play A Few Good Men, directed by David Esbjornsen, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 6th September. It is a military courtroom drama, in which Marines are accused of murdering their peer, but claim in defence that they were only acting under orders. The producer is Bill Kenwright.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Royal Shakespeare Company has confirmed that Declan Donnellan will adapt and direct Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, opening at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford on 6th December. This will be followed by Arthur Miller's The Crucible, which uses the 17th century Salem witchcraft trials to attack the 20th century McCarthyist witch-hunt, directed by Dominic Cooke, from 28th February. In the Swan Theatre, all 23 of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, told by pilgrims on the road to Canterbury, will be staged in two parts, adapted by Mike Poulton, directed by Gregory Doran, opening on 1st December, prior to a regional tour and American visit to Washington. This will be followed by Penelope Wilton in Thomas Middleton's Women Beware Women, in which the characters lie, rape and murder to increase their wealth, directed by Laurence Boswell, from 28th February.

Theatre Maketa's Theatre Truck will be making two appearances in the West End in June. The 40 seater theatre, ingeniously created in a former G H Luckings trailer, which had spent many years transporting scenery around the country, was launched at last year's Edinburgh Fringe, when it hosted three plays. It has a small but full sound and lighting systems, and is well up to the spec required by local authority licensing departments. The Theatre Truck will be in Waterloo Place, at the junction of Lower Regent Street and Pall Mall, from 7th to 9th June, hosting its Fringe success, Nick Kidd's Talking, Talking Heads with Leda Hodgson as an actor struggling to portray an Alan Bennett character. Admission is by invitation only, available by email: or calling: 020 8748 9938. The Theatre Truck will return for West End Live in Leicester Square on 25th and 26th June, when actors from London drama schools will present scenes, sketches and monologues, plus stand up routines, puppet shows and films. Pictures of the Theatre Truck in action, and details of how hire it, or take part in West End Live, can be found on the TM web site via the link from Theatre Companies in the Links section of TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Martin Shaw will star in Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons, directed by Michael Rudman, which opens a prospective pre West End season on 5th October, at the Theatre Royal in Windsor. It is based on the true events surrounding Thomas More, Lord Chancellor and friend of Henry VIII, who refused to accept the King's rejection of the Roman Catholic Church in order to divorce and remarry. The producer is Bill Kenwright.

This year's BAC Opera season has transmogrified into Burst, a festival of new music theatre, incorporating performance art, physical theatre, and cabaret, running from 30th April to 14th May. Highlights include: Lone Twin with Sledge Hammer Songs - A Bother In Twenty One Dramas, where Morris dancing meets Justin Timberlake; Names Of The Dead, commissioned and developed by BAC with director Tom Morris and composer Stephen McNeff, a musical memorial to all those killed in Iraq; Madestrange's Midsummer, a multimedia dreamscape opera of love and betrayal; Bad Look Boudoir, a polysexual punk-rock cabaret hosted by Subterfuge; Deer Park with years, years, a contemplation on heritage and destiny; and SharpWire's mixed media piece Saccades And Fixations, offering a new look at some ageless themes. Further information can be found on the Battersea Arts Centre web site via the link from London Venues in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Nigel Planer will make his stage writing debut with On The Ceiling, a comedy about the painting of the Sistine Chapel, starring Ron Cook and Ralf Little, directed by Jennie Darnell, which will open a prospective pre West End season at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 14th May. The premise is that it wasn't actually Michelangelo who painted the ceiling, but his put upon assistants.