News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th July 2005

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Kristin Scott Thomas, Margaret Tyzack and Bob Hoskins will star in Pirandello's As You Desire Me, in a new version by Hugh Whitemore, directed by Jonathan Kent, opening at the Playhouse Theatre on 27th October. In typically enigmatic Pirandellian fashion, the play concerns a lady in 1920s Europe who may or may not be who (or what) she says she is. The producers are Duncan C Weldon and Paul Elliott.

Anna-Jane Casey and Daniel Evans will star in Sunday In The Park With George, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and book by James Lapine, directed by Sam Buntrock, opening at the Menier Chocolate Factory on 17th November. The show is about the nature of art, telling the story of the creation of French Pointillist painter Georges Seurat's painting 'A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte' and of the characters it portrays.

The autumn season at the Peacock Theatre includes American dance company MoMix with Opus Cactus, in which the desert is brought to life against a soundtrack combining native American sounds, the Swingle Singers, Bach and Brian Eno, opening on 13th September; and James Thierree's La Veillee Des Abysses, a surreal circus show in which Thierree is joined by opera singer Uma Ysamat, contortionist Raphalle Boitel, dancer Niklas Ek and capoeira dancer Thiago Martins, opening on 4th October; plus return visits by Shaolin Monks - Wheel Of Life, the martial arts display, opening on 18th October; and Raymond Briggs's The Snowman, making his eighth West End appearance on 7th December, originally a Birmingham Rep production, with a score by Howard Blake from the animated film, choreographed by Robert North, and directed by Bill Alexander.

The second New York Musical Theatre Festival, running from 12th September to 2nd October, aims to help new writing in musical theatre move forward into production. Over 21 days there will be 64 events, in 14 venues around midtown Manhattan, with 29 premiering musicals, 10 concerts, 5 readings, and 8 seminars and panel discussions, given by almost 1000 performers and musicians, all open to the public. Among the shows will be The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde, book and lyrics by Michael Aman and Oscar E. Moore, music Dana P Rowe, Southern fried Romeo And Juliet with line dancing; Nerds://A Musical Software Satire, book and lyrics by Jordan Allen-Dutton and Erik Weiner, music by Hal Goldberg, an epic take on the parallel stories of rival computer pioneers Bill Gates and Steve Jobs; and The Big Time, book by Douglas Carter Beane, music and lyrics by Douglas J Cohen, in which a UN peacekeeping ship is captured by terrorists but the lounge act from Atlantic City saves the day. Further information can be found on the NYMTF web site via the link from New York TheatreNet.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, in a new 'bloodied up' adaptation by Kevin Elyot, directed by Steven Pimlott, will open at the Guelgud Theatre on 25th October. The company will include Tara Fitzgerald, Gemma Jones, Graham Crowden and Richard Johnson, playing a group of strangers lured to an Indian island by a mysterious host, who accuses each of them of hiding a terrible secret - and then murders them one by one. The producer is Act Productions.

Welsh National Opera's 60th birthday season opens at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff on 17th September. It features new productions of the five act version of Verdi's Don Carlos, directed by John Caird; Lehar's The Merry Widow with Lesley Garrett, directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser, with choreography by Stuart Hopps; Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, with Bryn Terfel, directed by David Pountney; and Tchaikovsky's Mazepa, directed by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser. The season also sees the return of Puccini's Tosca directed by Michael Blakemore, Giles Havergal's production of Rossini's The Barber Of Seville, Mozart's The Marriage Of Figaro directed by Neil Armfield, and Katie Mitchell's productions of Mozart's Don Giovanni and Handel's Jeptha.

The Peggy Ramsay Foundation has changed its rules regarding this year's Project Award to help foster new writing. Instead of going to a single project, there will be three awards of 10,000 each during the course of year, to encourage writers and writing for the professional adult stage. Any theatre company in regular production of professional plays for an adult audience can submit a proposal. However, it must neither be for the commissioning, development or production of a single play or solo performance, nor for plays directed solely to schools, nor work presented by amateurs. Further information can be found on the PRF web site via the link from Organisations in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Rob Lowe will be joined by Suranne Jones, John Barrowman and Jack Ellis in A Few Good Men, opening at the Haymarket Theatre on 6th September; Simon Russell Beale will be joined by Simon Bubb, Simon Day, Siobhan Hewlett and Danny Webb in The Philanthropist, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 13th September; Kevin Spacey will be joined by Julian Glover, Ben Miles and Oliver Kieran-Jones in Richard II opening at the Old Vic Theatre on 4th October; and Paul Rhys, Lloyd Owen and Paul Higgins will star in Paul, opening at the National Theatre on 6th October.

The Orange Tree Theatre's autumn season comprises the British premiere of Deborah Brevoort's Women Of Lockerbie, with Todd Boyce, Emma D'Inverno, Lisa Eichhorn, John Hudson, Nan Kerr, Isobil Nisbet and Colette O'Neil, about a couple who have still not come to terms with the death of their son in the terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103, directed by Auriol Smith, opening on 31st August; David Lewis's Monkey's Uncle, a comedy with the farceur Feydeau immersed in one of his own plots, which spins forward into the 21st century, directed by Sam Walters, opening on 5th October; the British premiere of Jason Sherman's Three In The Back, Two In the Head, an investigation into the murder of a scientist working for America's defence programme reveals a world of double agents, rogue states and global paranoia, directed by Adam Barnard, opening on 9th November; and John Vanbrugh's Journey To London, completed by James Saunders, a Restoration comedy about a country MP and his family who find themselves embroiled in the wicked ways of the city, directed by Sam Walters, opening on 14th December.

The Rumour Machine says: that Simon Russell Beale is to play the title role in Bertolt Brecht's The Life Of Galileo at the National Theatre next year; and that the original cast of Nicholas Hytner's National Theatre production of Alan Bennett's The History Boys, led by Richard Griffiths, will transfer to Broadway next April. The Rumour Machine grinds on.