News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th November 2002

Dawn French returns to the stage in Geraldine Aron's monologue My Brilliant Divorce, which will open at the Apollo Theatre in February, directed by Garry Hynes.

Gyles Brandreth will make his West End debut in the composite musical entertainment Zipp! at the Duchess Theatre on 4th February. Co-devised by Brandreth and Stewart Nicholls, the show does for musical theatre what the Reduced Shakespeare Company does for the Bard, with the promise of "100 musicals in 90 minutes or your money back" - including the complete works of Andrew Lloyd Webber in 60 seconds. Even the title has been shortened from Zipadeedoodah! during the course of its regional appearances, such as the Edinburgh Fringe. The company also includes Andrew C Wadsworth, Amanda Symonds and C J Johnson, and is directed and choreographed by Carole Todd.

The National Theatre has announced the final productions under the artistic directorship of Trevor Nunn, which include in the Olivier: Love's Labour's Lost, with John Barrowman, Simon Day, Anthony Cable, Joseph Fiennes, Paul Grunet, Richard Henders, Akiya Henry Tam Mutu, Denis Quilley and Robin Soans, directed by Treveor Nunn; and the Ninagawa Company's production of Pericles, performed in Japanese. In the Lyttelton: Janet McTeer as John Webster's The Duchess Of Malfi, in the Jacobean tragedy of a young widow's refusal to obey her brother's command never to remarry, with Lorcan Cranitch, Eleanor David, Charles Edwards, James Howard, Will Keen, Penelope McGhie, Sally Rogers and Jonathan Slinger, directed by Phyllida Lloyd. In the Cottesloe: the UK premiere of Honour, which analyses the failure of a marriage, by Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith, with Corin Redgrave and Eileen Atkins, directed by Roger Michell.

Having conquered the cinema, the Sing-a-long-a phenomenon is moving to the stage on 9th January, when Sing-a-long-a ABBA - Live In Concert opens at the Whitehall Theatre for a two month season. Following on from the original mass karaoke style film screening with the audience dressing up, which started with Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music at the Prince Charles Cinema, this event features a live band performing the songs of ABBA, with the lyrics shown on a screen (as if there was anyone who didn't know them by heart) for the audience to join in.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Ian McKellen will star in Strindberg's Dance Of Death, opening at the Lyric Theatre on 4th March. This will be a revised version of Sean Mathias recent Broadway production of American playwright Richard Greenberg's new translation. It is expected that Frances de la Tour will replace Helen Mirren who starred with McKellen in New York. The play is the story of a couple who are preparing for their 25th wedding anniversary when a figure from their past reappears.

This will be preceded at the Lyric Theatre from 13th January to 15th February by Al Murray in his persona as The Pub Landlord, in Who Dares Wines?, which recently completed a national tour.

The Theatre Museum's latest exhibition Drawn To Fame, features theatrical caricatures by Gilbert Sommerlad, the pianist and violinist who captured many stars of the golden age of show business. The collection covers a wide range of personalities, including Bud Flanagan, Max Miller, Ken Dodd and Sir John Gielgud. They reflect the change in theatre from the 1930s and the heyday of radio, to the popularity of television stars in the 1950s and 1960s. Another recently added display Opera In Britain, traces the establishment of a native opera tradition in the UK. It highlights costumes from English National Opera productions, including David Blight's punk Sphinx from Greek, and a recent gift of 18th century style costumes by David Walker for Der Rosenkavalier in 1975. Further information can be found on the Theatre Museum web site via the link from the Information section of TheatreNet.

The previously mentioned Crucible Theatre Sheffield production of The Tempest, starring Derek Jacobi and directed by Michael Grandage, will transfer to Old Vic from 13th January to 15th March, retaining most of the original cast.

Ralph Fiennes will make his West End debut next year in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Ibsen's Brand, directed by Adrian Noble, at the Haymarket Theatre on 4th June. It is the story of an uncompromising priest who finds his high principles at odds with the rest of society. The production, which will mark the end of Noble's time as artistic director of the RSC, will open at the Swan Theatre in Stratford in April before transferring. It will be presented in London by Theatre Royal Haymarket Productions and Stanhope Productions, in association with the RSC.

On The Casting Couch: Margaret Tyzack will join Alan Davies in Morris Panych's Auntie And Me, directed by Anna Mackmin, opening at Wyndham's Theatre on 14th January; and Rhys Ifans will star in Dario Fo's Accidental Death Of An Anarchist, directed by Robert Delamere, opening at the Donmar Warehouse on 26th February.

The Playhouse Theatre, which has had a somewhat chequered history and has been up for sale for four years, has been purchased by American brothers Ted and Norman Tulchin, who will officially assume ownership in January. This is the first theatre to be owned by the Tulchins, who are based in New York and Los Angeles, and have produced shows in London and New York. While particularly interested in new writing, they intend to run the venue as a regular West End receiving theatre, with Kevin Wallace responsible for programming and general management. The Playhouse was restored to live performance in 1985 after a decade of dereliction following 25 years use as a BBC radio studio.

The Rumour Machine says: that the current Tricycle Theatre production of Arthur Miller's The Price, starring Warren Mitchell, will be West End bound in the spring; that Dame Edna Everage may star in the London production of the current Broadway musical hit Hairspray; that the Almeida Theatre will stage Anthony Sher's adaptation of the book A Mouthful Of Glass, about the man who stabbed South African Prime Minister Hendrick Verwoerd, with Alex Fearns in the lead; and that Joan Plowright may return to the West End in Pirandello's Each In His Own Way, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.