News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th August 2008

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Menier Chocolate Factory production of the musical La Cage Aux Folles, adapted from the French play by Jean Poiret (and later film), book by Harvey Fierstein, music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, centred on a gay couple running a Saint-Tropez nightclub that features a drag show, will be restaged at the Playhouse Theatre, opening on 30th October. Douglas Hodge and Denis Lawson (taking over from Philip Quast) will lead the cast, directed by Terry Johnson, with choreography by Lynne Page. The producers are Chocolate Factory Productions, Sonia Friedman Productions, David Ian Productions, Tulchin/Bartner, The Ambassador Theatre Group and Jamie Hendry.

Edinburgh Fringe Report: For the first time ticket sales were down on the previous year by 10% at just over 1.5m, attributed to problems with the new ticketing system and bad weather (the wettest August on record). There were 31,320 performances of 2,088 shows in 247 venues, up from 31,000 performances of 2,050 shows in 250 venues last year. Shows came from 46 different countries from Austria to Zimbabwe. For the first time Comedy was the biggest category, making up 32% of the programme, with Theatre 29%, Music 17%, Musicals and Opera 5%, Dance and Physical Theatre 5%, Children's 4%, Events 4% and Exhibitions 3%. The Festival Fringe Society is already circulating information for companies wanting to appear in next year's Fringe, running from 7th to 31st August. Interested parties can subscribe to receive a monthly email bulletin, and download a substantial amount of advice about venues, and mounting and selling a show - but they should remember to factor into their calculations that the average audience size for a Fringe show is 6 (or is that just an urban myth?). Further information can be found on the Fringe web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The Edinburgh Fringe hit La Clique, a combination of cabaret, new burlesque, circus sideshow and contemporary variety, featuring unusual acts from around the world, will open a season at the Hippodrome in Charing Cross Road on 10th October. It will play an 8 shows a week schedule, with normal evening performances, and late night matinees on Fridays and Saturdays. Frank Matcham, the doyenne of theatre architects, designed the venue in 1900 as a water circus. The producers are Chocolate Factory Productions, Mark Rubinstein and Mick Perrin.

The current Donmar Warehouse production of Piaf, Pam Gems's bioplay about the French singer Edith Piaf, with Elena Roger, Shane Attwooll, Phillip Browne, Lorraine Bruce, Luke Evans, Michael Hadley, Katherine Kingsley and Steve John Shepherd, directed by Jamie Lloyd, will transfer to the Vaudeville Theatre, opening on 21st October. The producers are Arielle Tepper Madover and CMP.

Birmingham Royal Ballet's 2008/2009 season, which opens at Birmingham Hippodrome on 1st October, will feature the triple bills Love And Loss, comprising David Bintley's Galanteries and The Dance House, and Frederick Ashton's The Dream; Russian Steps, comprising Kenneth MacMillan's Concerto, Rudolf Nureyev's Raymonda Act III and Mikhail Fokine's The Firebird; Pomp And Circumstances comprising David Bintley's Still Life At The Penguin Cafe, Frederick Ashton's Enigma Variations and George Balanchine's Serenade; and Stravinsly! - A Celebration, comprising Mikhail Fokine's The Firebird and Petrushka, and the premiere of Michael Corder's Le Baiser de la fee; and Sir Fred and Mr B, a double bill comprising Frederick Ashton's The Two Pigeons and George Balanchine's Mozartiana; plus the full length productions David Bintley's Beauty And The Beast, Sylvia and The Nutcracker.

The winners have been announced of this year's Musical Theatre Matters Awards, selected from 44 shows, considered for the 5 awards. The Most Promising Musical was Barbershopera!, by Rob Castell and Tom Green, the story of how an unconventional quartet wins the Eurovision Song Contest, which will also be offered a place in Perfect Pitch, the festival of new British musicals, which will run at Trafalgar Studios 2 from 25th to 29th November. The 6-8 shows included will be presented in 45 minute concert versions in double bills. Further information about the awards and the festival can be found on the Musical Theatre Matters web site via the link from Writing in the Links section of TheatreNet

The 60th anniversary season at Nottingham Playhouse will include Vertigo, adapted by Jonathan Holloway, from the novel by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, about an ex-policeman assigned to shadow a female spy, pitching him into a chasm of obsessive desire, with Ben Keaton, David Acton and Phillipa Peak, directed by Giles Croft, from 12th September; the return of All Quiet On The Western Front, adapted by Robin Kingsland, from the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, about a group of idealistic boys who join up to fight in the First World War, but are quickly disillusioned as they experience the full horror of life in the trenches, with James Alexandrou and David Cardy, also directed by Croft, opening a national tour from 9th October; Shakespeare's Macbeth, with Liam Brennan and Allison McKenzie, directed by Lucy Pitman-Wallace, from 22nd October, a co-production with the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh; Aladdin, written and directed by Kenneth Alan Taylor, who also features with Nathan Dowling, John Elkington, Rebecca Little and Philip Herbert, from 28th November; and the premiere of Stephen Lowe's Glamour, a story of Nottingham gangland in 1966, directed by Bill Alexander, from 6th February.

The Carl Rosa Opera Company will open a regional tour of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, with a company headed by Jonathan Ansell, Nichola McAuliffe and Sylvester McCoy, directed by Eric Roberts, at Richmond Theatre, on 9th September.

Robert Bathurst will conclude his regional tour as Alex, the Daily Telegraph's comic strip corporate financier, written by the cartoon's creators Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor, and directed by Phelim McDermott, with a return London season at the Leicester Square Theatre, formerly The Venue, in Leicester Place, from 27th November. The one man show details Alex's increasingly desperate attempts to juggle his job, marriage and social life, as crises hit all three and threaten to ruin him. Projection design by Fifty Nine allows Alex to interact with characters from the strip and other elements of his cartoon world. The producer is Eleanor Lloyd.