News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th December 1998

It is customary at this time to look back over the year, and review triumphs and failures. Well we don't do that because we're more interested in the future than the past, so the tradition here is to look forward to what will happen - all based on hard, solid, um, er, rumour.

The previously mentioned production of The Visitor, starring Eli Wallach and directed by Peter Hall, may now move to London, owing to heavy traffic in Broadway theatres, caused by Zoe Wanamaker's Electra extending its run. It is expected to keep to the same timetable, opening early February. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's play, adapted by Jeremy Sams, concerns Nazi officers who try to persuade Sigmund Freud to sign a document endorsing the party. The Shubert Organisation is producing.

Stars of the TV series Frasier, Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce and John Mahoney will play a season in Art in the Summer during their hiatus.

Forbidden Broadway, the topical revue which satirises and parodies the pretensions of current Broadway shows, will play a season at the Jermyn Street Theatre. The latest New York version includes their now legendary send up of the effects of the Les Mis revolve, the current fashion for Irish plays and Andrew Lloyd Webber (inevitably) as The Phantom. The show first visited here ten years ago.

Thelma Holt is looking for a West End home for the National Theatre production of Terry Johnson's Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle And Dick, which she is touring when the current South Bank run ends on 16th January. Holt will also produce Frank McGuinness new version of Strindberg's Miss Julie, which Hal Prince will direct in the Autumn.

Cameron Mackintosh is to produce a musical adaptation of John Updike's The Witches Of Eastwick by Dana P. Rowe and John Dempsey, who wrote The Fix, which played unsuccessfully at the Donmar Warehouse last year, but is still Broadway bound.

Bill Kenwright is to bring to the West End previously tired out - sorry that should have been tried out - productions of: a stage version of the classic Hitchcock film Vertigo with Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove; Bernard Slade's comedy Same Time, Another Year, the sequel to Same Time, Next Year, with Dennis Waterman and Paula Wilcox; and the musical version of Dickens A Tale Of Two Cities with Paul Nicholas, currently at the Alexandra Theatre Birmingham.

Samantha Fox will make her stage debut in March, playing alongside Jack Wild in Virus, a comedy about the millennium bug, which is set inside a computer.

Green & Langan, who must have established some sort of record with eight simultaneous productions at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, will tour: Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, with Prunella Scales and Timothy West; a new Keith Waterhouse play Bing Bong, with Dennis Waterman (so much demand, so little talent) and Patrick Mower; and a revival of Fanny Burney's comedy A Busy Day.

Australian choreographer Dein Perry, creator of Hot Shoe Shuffle and Tap Dogs has a new show called Steel City which should arrive sometime during the year.

Great Balls Of Fire, yet another rock'n'roll compilation show, this time about Jerry Lee Lewis, who has lived the ultimate rock star life, with six marriages (including one to an under age girl) and an encyclopaedia (rather than history) of stimulant indulgence. Billy Geraghty, a previous Buddy Holly, will star as Lewis in the Autumn.

Now they're all at it dept: Tom Cruise is said to be so inspired by his experience of the theatrical production process, through watching Nicole Kidman in The Blue Room, that he is talking to Starfinder General Sam Mendes about doing a play at the Donmar Warehouse in 2000. It will not be one of the classics, but a new play or at least a modern work.

On the silver screen: RKO is working on turning Citizen Kane into a musical. (Honest - I don't make these things up!) Studio chief Ted Hartley is hurt by reactions that this is a disgraceful attempt to make a quick buck, claiming that it is not a remake, but a totally different art form.

Still claiming to be alive, and may yet start kicking, these were predicted for the West End in '98 and could make it in '99:

Anthony Shaffer's classic thriller Sleuth with Peter Bowles and Michael Maloney, possibly now in March. Shaffer has written a new thriller The Thing In The Wheelchair (something to offend a lobby group there) which film director Nicholas Roeg may direct. Brother Peter Shaffer also has a new play, about the relationship between (Pyotr) Tchaikovsky and his brother Modest.

Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show is still looking to come in as part of its silver jubilee tour. Not so much a revival as a continuation, since it seems to have been touring almost non stop for the whole 25 years.

Emma Thompson will star in As You Like It, directed by Sam Mendes at the Donmar Warehouse, prior to a Broadway season.

Ronald Harwood's new play Equally Divided with Stephanie Cole, Stephanie Beacham as sisters fighting over their mother's will, and Gerald Harper as the family solicitor, directed by Christopher Morahan.

Mark Clements and Michael Vivian's Motown compilation show The Grapevine, which premiered at Derby Playhouse, produced by the Turnstyle Group.

The Off Broadway play As Bees In Honey Drown by Douglas Carter-Beane directed by the original director Mark Brokaw.

Phyllis Nagy's play Never Land, originally seen at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, produced by Criterion Productions. It tells the story of an anglophile French family, when reality confronts their perceptions gained only from books and television, and was originally directed by Stephen Pimlott.

Happy Days, a musical based on the Fonz and other characters from the 1970's American TV series (set in the late 1950's).

The Pet Shop Boys/Jonathan Harvey musical, set in a club, possibly at the Donmar Warehouse.

David Shiner and Bill Irwin in Fool Moon, their own mixture of vaudeville, comedy, dance and audience participation, which is currently enjoying its third Broadway visit.

Jean de Florette, a musical inspired by the films Jean de Florette and Manons des Sources, held over from '97 - but will it feature the famous theme which sold a million pints of lager?

And finally . . . Phantom II (This Time It's Really Personal), in which the Phantom goes to the old New York Metropolitan Opera House, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Don Black and book by Frederick Forsyth will arrive in 2000.