News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th October 1999

Birmingham Royal Ballet will present the world premiere of David Bintley's new ballet Arthur at the Birmingham Hippodrome on 25th January. Based on the Arthurian legends, already explored in other media, this new ballet will translate the legacy of King Arthur into an epic dance cycle in two parts. John McCabe has written the specially commissioned score. The first part will concentrate on how Arthur defeated the Saxons and ushered in thirty years of peace. For the first time, BRB will open up the creative process by holding a series of open rehearsals, pre and post performance talks, demonstrations and interactive participatory workshops. Students from Josiah Mason College are in the process of recording the creation of the ballet as part of this initiative. Following the premiere, BRB will embark on its winter tour. The performance on 29th January will be the last on the stage of the Hippodrome, as it closes for the second phase of its major refurbishment project. Arthur II, the second ballet in the cycle will re-open the Hippodrome in 2001.

The first London Tango Festival will be held at the Porchester Hall from 8th to 14th November. There will be daytime masterclasses and workshops at all levels, from Absolute Beginners to Semi-professional, between 11.00am and 6.30pm. In the evenings, a live band will accompany demonstrations by some of the world's greatest tango dancers from 8.00pm to 10.00pm, followed by dancing for all until midnight. The festival is presented by Academia Nacional del Tango UK in association with Las Estrellas School of Tango. Full details are available from the London Tango Festival web site via the link from the TheatreNet Festivals section.

Visa USA has signed a marketing partnership deal with Tony Award Productions, the League of American Producers, The American Theatre Wing and SFX Entertainment, to become the preferred credit card of Broadway and SFX events, and the only card accepted by the Tony Awards. As a result, the Visa logo will appear on all Live Broadway materials and ticketing campaigns, and the various producers' logos will be used by Visa. In addition, Visa customers will have priority booking for SFX events, and will be able to purchase tickets before the general public.

Meanwhile the world domination plans of SFX Entertainment roll on, as this week it has bought Mojo Works, the largest music promoter and entertainment event organiser in the Netherlands. As with the recently acquired Apollo Leisure/Barry Clayman organisation in the UK, the existing management will continue to run the business. Mojo also has a large event security company in Holland, and manufactures security barriers, which it supplies to promoters, local government and sporting events worldwide.

The National Theatre is reviving its trilogy of medieval mystery plays for a Christmas season from 18th December to 22nd January. The Mysteries - The Nativity, The Passion & Doomsday, adapted by Tony Harrison, and directed by Bill Bryden, with music by John Tams, present a modern interpretation of the bible stories from the Creation to the Last Judgement, as originally performed by medieval craft Guilds. The cast includes Joe Duttine, David Bradley, Sue Johnston, Catherine Bradshaw, John Normington, Iain Robertson, Jack Shepherd, Don Warrington and Joanna Page. Each of the plays is complete in itself, or can be seen as a cycle in one day, and all are presented as promenade performances. The plays were last seen 12 years ago at the unrestored Lyceum Theatre. This revival will be followed in the new year by The Brent Mysteries, the same stories interpreted in the inimitable fashion of The National Theatre Of Brent, under the personal supervision of its artistic director Desmond Olivier Dingle.

The Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park has received a 1.49m lottery grant, which will fund the first upgrading of the 67 year old theatre's facilities since the current auditorium was built in 1976. There will be a new glass-covered front of house area, an extended picnic lawn, a covered and heated bar area, upgraded technical and backstage equipment, and a new sponsors room with catering facilities to increase income. A fundraising campaign to find 500,000 matching funding will start with a New Year Gala. The work should be completed by June for the launch of next year's season, which will include the company's trademark play A Midsummer Night's Dream.

There will be rival Irish foot stamping going on in London over Christmas, as Dancing On Dangerous Ground at Drury Lane, is to be joined by Spirit Of The Dance at Wembley Arena from 10th December to 14th January. Spirit, which very much follows in the footsteps of the original Riverdance, has been touring for the last two years.

The Royal Opera House is looking for freelance Backstage Tour Guides, to conduct groups of up to 25 people around the refurbished building, when tours begin on 10th January. Full details are available from the Royal Opera House web site, via the link from the UK London Venues section of TheatreNet.

Strike Gently, Away From Body, a new play by Rufus Norris and Katrina Lindsay will play at the Young Vic Studio from 17th November to 11th December. It features Ed Bishop, Nicola Blackwell, Andrew Frame, Helena Lymbery and Laura Macauley. The piece centres on five people trying not to look at where they thought they'd be by now, as a group of actors waiting to audition for an advertisement, trace a path through moments that have shaped their lives. Rufus Norris directs, and the producer is Wink Productions.

The Rumour Machine says: that Vanessa Redgrave may play Ranevskaya in The Cherry Orchard at the National next autumn, directed by Trevor Nunn; that Steven Berkoff has been subsidising the run of East, to enable seat prices to be lowered in the hope of attracting younger audiences; and that John Kander, Fred Ebb and Terrence McNally are working on a musical version of Friedrich Duerrenmatt's The Visit with Angela Lansbury in mind for Broadway in the spring of 2001. The Rumour Machine grinds on.