News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th April 2004

The 110th season of the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts takes place at the Royal Albert Hall between 16th July and 11th September. The world's greatest classical music festival centres on 74 main concerts (at least one every evening) with consistently low ticket prices, including 500 'promming' tickets at only 4 each available every day 30 minutes before the doors open. In addition, there is a series of Pre-Prom and Background talks at the RAH and the Victoria and Albert Museum, lunch time Chamber Music Proms at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Late Night Proms starting at 10pm. All concerts are broadcast live on Radio 3, with more than ever before televised on BBC4, and via audio and video webcasts. This year there are three themes: 'Back to Bohemia', exploring Czech music; 'East meets West', looking at eastern influences on western music; and 'England in 1934', a year of generational change in British composers. During the season the famous organ will be heard for the first time since its 1.8m refurbishment was completed. The Last Night will include the ninth outdoor Proms In The Park, with 35,000 people in Hyde Park joining in, and simultaneous concerts running in Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester and Swansea. All five concerts will culminate in live big screen link ups with the Royal Albert Hall. Further information can be found on the BBC Proms web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Actress Imogen Stubbs's first play We Happy Few, starring Juliet Stevenson, directed by Trevor Nunn, will open at the Gielgud Theatre on 29th June. It tells the true story of Henrietta Oaks and the Osiris Repertory Company, a group of seven women who formed a touring theatre group during the Second World War, eventually building up a repertoire of over 100 plays, and giving some 1,500 performances in school halls across Britain. The play premiered last November at Malvern Theatre. The producer is Bill Kenwright.

The Theatre Royal Haymarket's Masterclass season for young people who have an interest in theatre, or are keen to pursue a career in the arts, continues through May and June, featuring the following masters of their arts: director Carol Metcalfe, musical director Michael Haslam, and actors Janie Dee, Bill Nighy, Donald Sinden and Oliver Ford Davies. Sessions begin at 2.30pm and last around two hours. Events are open to people aged between 17 and 30, and are free of charge - but there is a refundable deposit required confirming the booking. Those aged over 30 who would like to attend can now subscribe to a Friends scheme. Further information and online booking can be found on the Theatre Royal Haymarket web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

The summer season at the Stephen Joseph Theatre Scarborough features plays plays by the two most prolific British and American writers in repertoire. Alan Ayckbourn premieres his 66th play, Drowning On Dry Land, on 4th May, with Stephen Beckett, Adrian McLoughlin, Sarah Moyle, Paul Kemp, Stuart Fox, Melanie Gutteridge and Billie-Claire Wright. This is about the contemporary media driven celebrity culture, and a man who is an A-list name, even though nobody knows why he is famous. It is joined from 18th May by Neil Simon's I Ought To Be In Pictures, with Bill Champion, Julie Hewlett and Laura Doddington, directed by Laurie Sansom. A would be actress arrives in Hollywood, hoping that her screenwriter father, who abandoned his family 16 years earlier, will help her find fame and fortune.

2D>3D: Contemporary Design For Performance, which opens at the Theatre Museum on 21st May, is a showcase for the work of British theatre designers. It aims to demonstrate the process by which the initial two dimensional sketch comes to life in three dimensional reality, with costumes, scale models, photographs, design drawings, story boards, puppets, masks and props. It also features interactive digital displays of lighting designs, so that visitors can run their own scenic and lighting changes. The exhibition includes work created by 25 designers for 30 productions, across the full spectrum of drama, dance, musicals and opera. These range in scale from the bigger budgets of national and regional theatres, to the more modest achievements in community and educational theatre. The event is organised by the Society of British Theatre Designers.

The London Development Agency has set up a new body to support creative businesses. Creative London has a 500m budget over 10 years, and aims to raise the numbers working in the businesses and their turnover by 40% in that time. It will do this by providing advice through a mentoring programme, finance through venture capital, help in locating premises from which businesses can operate, and the promotion of London as a creative centre. Further information can be found on the Creative London web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

Su Pollard, Stewart McLean, Hope Ross, Jemma Churchill and Natalie Bennett star in the new comedy A Happy Medium, by Dorothy Paul and John Bett, directed By Ken Alexander, which is currently touring. A woman's dabbling in the spirit world, in an attempt make contact with her dead sister, unlocks hidden powers and family secrets among many 'ghosts' from the past. Presented by The Booking Office.

Jerry Springer - The Opera is to make its American debut in a six week prospective pre-Broadway season at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, opening on 28th February next year. The producers have pencilled a New York opening date of 20th October. Speculation is rife over who will play the title role, including Springer himself, who has previous stage experience as the Narrator in the Circle In The Square production of The Rocky Horror Show in New York in 2001.

Now in its 4th year, the London Comedy Festival, running from 13th to 23rd May, is bigger and better than ever. Encouraging new talent and community participation in local events across the capital, the programme includes not just stand-up, with Jo Brand, Rhona Cameron, Dave Gorman, Rich Hall and Arthur Smith, but cabaret, masterclasses, workshops, a competition to find the best newcomer, comic street theatre (and on the underground), the world's biggest cartoon, and even appearances in public libraries. Further information about events can be found on the LCF web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Dianne Wiest is to star in a London production of Kathleen Tolan's The Memory House, about the relationship of a mother and a daughter, in July; that Bill Kenwright will transfer the current Almeida Theatre production of Festern to the West End later in the year; and that the National Theatre is to stage a series of monologues by leading writers on subjects taken from current events, followed by a discussion of the issues raised, under the banner National Headlines, as part of its Platforms season in October. The Rumour Machine grinds on.