Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Despite the current economic situation, figures released by the Society Of London Theatre reveal that West End theatre enjoyed a record breaking year in 2008. There were 13,807,286 tickets sold, up 1% on the previous record of 13,630,810 set in 2007, while box office revenue totalled £480,563,674, up 3% from £469,729,135 in 2007, generating £72,165,271 in VAT for the Treasury. However, it should be noted that while figures in the first half of the year were considerably above those in 2007, as the economy faltered in the second half, demand fell back somewhat, although in the Christmas period it was particularly strong. As in previous recessions, it seems that the Great British Public is showing a 'determination to be entertained'.
The Royal Court Theatre is to present Look Left Look Right's Edinburgh Fringe production The Caravan, performed in a real caravan, which will be parked opposite the theatre, in the middle Sloane Square, from 10th to 28th February. Based on an original concept by Mimi Poskitt, it is a piece of verbatim theatre about the consequences of the flooding in Britain in 2007, which forced many families out of their homes and into temporary accommodation, and was created from interviews with victims carried out by the company. The show, featuring Rachel Dale and Brett Sadie, plays to an audience of just 8 at each performance.
On The Casting Couch: Jude Law will be joined by Penelope Wilton, Kevin R McNally, Ron Cook and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, with Peter Eyre, Gwilym Lee, John MacMillan, Matt Ryan and Alex Waldmann in Hamlet, opening at Wyndham's Theatre on 3rd June; and Sheila Hancock, Patina Miller and Ian Lavender will head a cast including Chris Jarmen, Ako Mitchell, Katie Rowley Jones, Claire Greenway, Julia Sutton, Thomas Goodridge, Nicolas Colicos and Ivan De Freitas, in Sister Act, opening at the London Palladium on 2nd June.
The first permanent museum dedicated to ballet, the White Lodge Museum and Ballet Resource Centre, run by the Royal Ballet School, and housed in its Lower School in Richmond Park, will open on 25th February. Part of a £22m development of the 18th century, neo-classical White Lodge building, the new facility will offer an insight into the history of ballet and of the Royal Ballet School. Among the permanent exhibits, drawn from the school's archive, will be a display on the life of Dame Ninette de Valois, the British dance pioneer and founder of the Royal Ballet.
New York TheatreNet: The Nederlander Organization has acquired the rights to produce a Broadway stage musical based on Michael Jackson's 14 minute Thriller video, a horror film spoof in which a young couple are out on a date, when the young man suddenly turns into a werewolf. The show will feature songs from both Jackson's Thriller and Off The Wall albums. No creative team members or production dates have been announced.
Ovation, the ITV Theatre Director Scheme, offers a 1 year programme for anyone over the age of 21 who wishes to make a career as a theatre director. Three candidates will be awarded bursaries of £12,000, and attachments at theatres, starting in July, where they will gain experience in all aspects of the theatre's operations, and undertake a programme of training to include assisting on productions. Previous theatres participating in the scheme include the Royal Court, the Young Vic, Bristol Old Vic, Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Birmingham Rep, Royal Exchange Manchester, Sheffield Theatres and West Yorkshire Playhouse, while Tim Albery, Michael Boyd, Vicky Featherstone, Rupert Goold, Nicholas Kent, Ken Loach, Adrian Noble, Trevor Nunn and Tim Supple are among those directors who have benefited from it. The scheme is administered by the Young Vic. Further information and an application form can be found on the Ovation web site via the link from Information in the Links section of TheatreNet. The closing date for the receipt of applications is 2nd March.
Dreamboats And Petticoats: The Musical, a stage show based on the compilation album of late '50s and early '60s pop classics, book by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, with Ben Freeman, Scott Bruton, Jennifer Biddall, David Cardy, Daisy Wood-Davis and AJ Dean, directed by Bob Tomson, choreographed by Carole Todd, will open a regional tour at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley on 19th February. The produceres are Bill Kenwright and Laurie Mansfield.
Move It 2009, the annual dance exhibition at Olympia from 6th to 8th March, will bring together all kinds of dance, with 100 performances, 250 classes, 20 seminars, 21 masterclasses, fashion shows and 160 commercial exhibitors. 45 minute taster classes, in everything from bollywood to ballroom, jazz to street, and ballet to salsa, costing just £3.50, will run continuously in 7 studios from 10am to 7pm on the first two days and 5pm on the final day.
The Arts Theatre, near Leicester Square, will reopen with the premiere of Toyer, a psychological thriller adapted by Gardner McKay from his 1998 novel, with Al Weaver and Alice Krige, directed by William Schoular, on 25th February. When a stranger appears at psychologist's house, she has to decide if he is simply an admirer, or a serial killer. It is produced by Dodi M Soames in association with PW Productions.
The Story Of 42nd Street: The Theatres, Shows, Characters And Scandals Of The World's Most Notorious Street, by Alexis Green and Mary C Henderson, recently published by Back Stage Books, is an amble down the "naughty, bawdy, gaudy" boulevard of broken dreams. A dazzling treasure trove of rarely seen photographs, combined with knowledgeable text, portrays the rise and fall and rise again of the street that symbolises the Broadway experience. This book traces the path from the first theatre built in 1899, through the golden age in 1920s and 1930s, fuelled by Hollywood movies and Damon Runyon stories, when there were 12 theatres on one block, the war years, when every American soldier and sailor paid a call, the sad decay into the sleaze of peepshows of the 1980s, and the miraculous rehabilitation of the 1990s, when old theatres were restored and new ones built.