News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th March 2001

The Official Tribute To The Blues Brothers will open at the Whitehall Theatre on 26th April. The show made its debut at the Whitehall in 1991 and has returned to the West End twice since then. The show features Simon Foster and Brad Henshaw as Jake and Elwood Blues, the characters created by Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s, and Antonio Fargas.

Theatre and arena operator SFX and ticketing company Ticketmaster have reached an agreement which will result in increased charges on booking tickets at all SFX's venues. Instead of the present 'per transaction' charge on credit card bookings, there will in future be a 'per ticket' charge, which will inevitably push up the total paid by most people. In addition there will be a 'printing charge' made on tickets bought at box office windows. SFX/TM claim that it will be up to show producers as to whether they absorb these charges or pass them on to the public.

Alan Ayckbourn's 58th and 59th plays will receive their premieres playing in repertoire at the Stephen Joseph Scarborough this summer under the umbrella title Damsels In Distress. Sharing the same set, performed by the same company and directed by the author, they show two women's responses to unusual situations. In Game Plan, running from 24th May to 25th August, when Lynette's business collapses and her husband disappears her daughter's rescue plan gets them in deeper trouble. In Flat Spin, running from 28th June to 8th September, Rosie finds nothing is what it seems when she's in a flat that's not hers, with a different name, and the good looking stranger from next door.

KCSN, which styles itself as 'The Best Of Public Radio', is now web streaming The David And Peter Show, dedicated to Broadway musical theatre, so it can now be heard all over the world. David Presby and Peter Goldman, with Miriam Billington, report on the New York musical and cabaret scene on Thursday nights from 9pm to midnight (US Eastern Standard Time). It is one of a number of cultural music and speech strands on the station. There is a link to KCSN from the Webcasts section of TheatreNet. This includes links to other sites with opera, play and concert performances, including currently Simon Callow in The Mystery Of Charles Dickens on Online Classics, and Juan Diego Flórez in a programme of song and operatic arias, recorded live at St. John's Smith Square on Global Music Network.

The Barbican has announced details of productions in BITE:01, which opens with John Barton's Trojan War epic Tantalus on 2nd May, and runs to 6th October. Highlights include Theatre de Complicite's new production The Noise Of Time about the life of Dmitri Shostakovich directed by Simon McBurney; The King Stag in which director/designer Julie Taymor, employs her trademark blend of puppetry, masks, live performers, and music to tell a medieval tale of castles, sorcery and mystical animals; i said i, Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's work which aims to shatter all preconceptions about modern dance; and the return of the Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes with Happy.

Richard Eyre is to direct Arthur Miller's The Crucible starring Liam Neeson on Broadway next February. It will be produced by David Richenthal who has secured the North American rights to Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night against competition from Bill Kenwright. He is expected to mount a New York production directed by Robert Falls, with Jessica Lange (repeating her West End performance) and Brian Dennehy. Richenthal is also planning a Broadway production of Harold Pinter's Old Times starring Ralph Fiennes and directed by David Leveaux.

The Royal Festival Hall celebrates its 50th birthday on 3rd May with a month of special events. A Gala Concert featuring the Philharmonia Orchestra with Angela Gheorghiou, Murray Perahia and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, which will include a specially commissioned fanfare by Harrison Birtwhistle, will help to raise funds for a £60m refurbishment programme. This will restore the original features of the first post war building to be listed, including its entrances and public spaces, and improve the auditorium acoustics. Events include a weekend of concerts and activities given by the resident orchestras and ensembles; a weekend of South African music; a recital on the newly restored organ; a free foyer concert by the South Bank Gamelan Players; a masterclass given by the Alban Berg Quartet; open rehearsals; dance events; and a concert performance of Guys And Dolls. There will be an interactive foyer exhibition about the RFH's history and future, and a series of talks produced with the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Those who prefer their performers to have four legs will be pleased to hear that The Spanish Riding School of Vienna is returning to Britain. The white Lipizzaner stallions and their riders will perform classical dressage in its purest form at the NEC Birmingham from 22nd to 25th November and Wembley Arena from 29th November to 2nd December. Founded in 1572, it is the oldest riding school in the world, maintaining skills and traditions dating back to Ancient Greece.

New York's Public Theater has announced its 46th summer season of free classical productions at the open air Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. Billy Crudup stars in Measure For Measure directed by Mary Zimmerman from 5th to 28th June. Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline head a cast that includes Natalie Portman, John Goodman and Christopher Walken in Chekhov's The Seagull directed by Mike Nichols from 24th July. Further information can be found on the Public Theater web site via the link from the International section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Neil Simon's current Broadway hit The Dinner Party, a melancholy comic drama in which six guests at a restaurant confront the best and worst aspects of marriage and divorce, will be coming to the West End in the autumn; that Boy George has written a musical Taboo about his rise to fame, for which he has West End ambitions; and that John Escott's play Money To Burn, about fleeing robbers who stop at a farm where a young girl and her brother try to stop their escape, is also aiming for the West End this year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.