News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th May 2009

Once again the National Theatre will be presenting Watch This Space, its free outdoor festival in the riverside Theatre Square, from 1st July to 27th September. The programme of over 300 street theatre, music, circus, late night cinema, installations, dance, cabaret and other events runs every day of the week, beginning at different times from midday to 10.30pm. Also returning, is Square2, the outdoor arena near the stage door, with ticketed performances by international theatre companies, including Polish company Teatr Biuro Podrozy's production of Macbeth: Who Is That Bloodied Man?; Markeline's Carbon Club, a coalminers' cabaret from the Basque Country; and Spanish company Gaitzerdi Teatro with Otsoko, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. Further information can be found on the National Theatre web site, via the link from London venues in the links section of TheatreNet.

A new musical, Too Close To The Sun, book by Roberto Trippini, music by John Robinson, lyrics by Trippini and Robinson will receive its world premiere at the Comedy Theatre on 24th July. It is a fictional account of the events leading up to the death of the writer Ernest Hemingway, including his liason with a young secretary who is aiming to become his fifth wife and inherit his estate, and an old friend trying to obtain the film rights to his life.

The Mariinsky Opera and Ballet will return to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden from 29th July to 15th August, performing Wagner's The Ring Cycle, Romeo And Juliet, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Homage To Balanchine, a triple bill comprising Serenade, Rubies and Symphony In C. The season is presented by Victor Hochhauser.

With its first season of Chekov's The Cherry Orchard and Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, about to open at the Old Vic Theatre, The Bridge Project has announced that the productions in its second season will be Chekhov's Three Sisters and Shakespeare's As You Like It, both featuring the same company of British and American actors, directed by Sam Mendes. The productions will open at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York early next year and transfer to the Old Vic next summer.

The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book Of Orchestrators And Orchestrations by Steven Susskind, recently published by Oxford University Press, is the first book ever written about the work of those who play a vital role in musical theatre, but whose names (and precise role) are little known by the public. The book examines the careers of Broadway's major orchestrators, such as Robert Russell Bennett, Don Walker, Philip J Lang and Jonathan Tunick, and follows the journey of a song as it travels from the composer's piano to the orchestra pit. It is in three parts: a biographical section that gives a sense of the life and world of twelve major theatre orchestrators, as well as another thirty arrangers and conductors; a discussion of the art of orchestration; and a listing of more than seven hundred musicals, including a who orchestrated what, along with comments from people involved with the productions. Packed with intriguing facts and personal anecdotes, many of which have never before appeared in print, this book offers a fascinating and often surprising new insight into the world of musical theatre.

Buxton Festival, centred on the spectacular Opera House designed by Frank Matcham, running from 10th to 26th July, continues the twin themes of opera and literature. Opera highlights include new festival productions of Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia, directed by Stephen Medcalf; Messager's Veronique, directed by Giles Havergal; and concert performances of Mendelssohn's Camacho's Wedding; plus the first ever staging of the original version of Mozart's Mitridate, re di Ponto, directed by Martin Lloyd-Evans, by the Classical Opera Company; the Opera Theatre Company Dublin's production of Handel's Orlando, directed by Annilese Miskimmon; and Peter Maxwell Davies's The Lighthouse, directed by Elaine Tyler-Hall, a Psappha production. The Literary Series boasts appearances by a variety of writers, broadcasters and personalities, including Kate Adie, Paddy Ashdown, Kate Atkinson, Joan Bakewell, Mark Bostridge, Melvyn Bragg, Julian Fellowes, Murray Lachlan Young, Jenni Murray and Shirley Williams. Further information can be found on the Buxton Festival web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The autumn season at the Peacock Theatre will include return visits by Bounce, the streetdance company, with Insane In The Brain, a multimedia hip-hop interpretation of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest; the Korean company Ye-Gam with Jump, the unique show that combines a family sitcom with Tae-kwon-do; and Raymond Briggs's The Snowman, with a score by Howard Blake from the animated film, choreographed by Robert North, and directed by Bill Alexander; plus the debut of Swedish company Cirkus Cirkor with Inside Out, a blend of acrobatics and storytelling, laced with style and humour.

The 10th anniversary season at the Keswick Theatre By The Lake, includes Alan Ayckbourn's A Chorus of Disapproval, about the trials and tribulations of an amateur light opera society production; P G Wodehouse's Summer Lightning, adapted by Giles Havergal, set in the country house world of the 1920s, with scandalous memoirs, pretty chorus girls and a prize-winning pig; and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, all directed by Ian Forrest, playing in repertoire. The company comprises Richard Galazka, Maria Gough, Katie Hayes, Dennis Herdman, Eliza Hunt, Ben Ingles, Polly Lister, James Nickerson, Aimee Thomas, Simeon Truby, Ella Vale, John Webb and Andrew Whitehead.