News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th May 2003

The 41st City Of London Festival, running from 23rd June to 10th July, has Trading Places as its theme, exploring the cultural exchange between London, New York and Shanghai. It comprises the usual mixture of lunchtime, rush hour and evening events, with concerts of every kind of music, plus theatre, dance and films. New Generations in 12 Wren churches presents young composers and performers, with the premiers of seven specially commissioned works. Contemporary music includes Cityscapes, a multimedia event with images from Fabian Monheim and Thomas Napper, words from Bernardine Evaristo, and music from Joanna MacGregor and Andy Sheppard. Classical events range from Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble, through an Elizabethan pageant, to Lang Lang and Guo-ren Lang fusing Eastern and Western traditions. An accompanying programme of walks, talks, visits and exhibitions reveals hidden treasures of the City. Further information can be found on the COLF web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Peter Brook's production of Le Costume, previously seen as part of the London International Festival of Theatre in 2001, is returning to the Young Vic on 27th August. Developed from a short story by the South African writer Can Themba, it is set in a township in the mid 1950s. The play tells of a woman discovered by her husband in the arms of her lover, who escapes but leaves his suit behind. The husband doesn't complain, but requires his wife to treat the suit as an honoured guest in his house, and the tale descends from ironic humour into cruelty. Described by Brook as "a menage a trios between a man, a woman and a suit", it employs a range of storytelling techniques, including mime and physical theatre.

Fresh from its success in the Greenwich Musical Futures event, The Fax Of Life (has Den Quinn really replicated himself with an experimental fax copier - or is it all in his mind?) will be joined in a musical double bill by The Unit (the inmates are on the roof, the building's on fire, and if they escape they'll be famous - but is everything quite what it seems?) at The Water Rats, 328 Grays Inn Road, London WC1 on Sunday 8th June at 4pm 020 8265 7506. Words are by Mary Stewart-David, music by Denis King, and the director is David Henson.

The autumn season at the Bristol Old Vic comprises Harold Pinter's The Caretaker, in which the household of two brothers is disrupted by a tramp, directed by Lindsay Posner, from 4th to 27th September; Shakespeare's 'flavour of the moment' twin twin comedy The Comedy Of Errors, directed by David Farr, from 3rd to 25th October; Sam Shepard's True West, about two feuding brothers, directed by Wilson Milam, from 31st October to 22nd November; and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway musical version of Cinderella, directed by Timothy Sheader, from 28th November to 24th January.

Never Gonna Dance, the previously mentioned stage musical based on the 1936 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Swing Time, has finally announced a Broadway opening at the Broadhurst Theatre on 4th December. It will star Broadway regulars Noah Racey and Nancy Lemenager, directed by Michael Greif and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell. Jeffrey Hatcher has adapted the book for the show that boasts a score packed with standards by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Dorothy Fields, Ira Gershwin, Otto Harbach, Johnny Mercer, Oscar Hammerstein and P.G. Wodehouse. It tells the story of a dancer who goes to the city to earn his fortune to prove his worthiness to marry his girlfriend, but once there, he meets a dancing instructor with whom he forms a partnership on and off stage, so when the old girlfriend arrives complications ensue.

Michael Grandage, continuing to ride two theatrical horses, has announced his next season at Sheffield Theatres. At the Crucible: A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Grandage, plays from 30th September to 1st November; A Chorus Line, the legendary audition musical with book by James Kirkwood and Nicholas Date, music by Marvin Hamlisch and lyrics by Edward Kleban, directed by Nikolai Foster and choreographed by Karen Bruce, from 2nd December to 24th January; Arthur Miler's The Crucible, which equates the Salem witchcraft trials with the 1950s McCarthy hearings, directed by Anna Mackmin, from 10th to 28th February; and Anna-Jane Casey stars in Piaf, Pam Gems bioplay with music, directed by Timothy Sheader, from 16th March to 7th April. Productions at the Lyceum will include Tennessee Williams Suddenly Last Summer, a brew of terrible secrets (homosexuality, insanity, murder, cannibalism et al), directed by Grandage, from 17th to 28th February.

Scottish comedy enthusiasts can enter a competition run by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society to fill one of the three civilian places on the judging panel for the Perrier Awards. Anyone who thinks they can cope with 200 hours of comedy in the middle two weeks of August can apply to join the seven industry professional who choose the winners of the 23rd season of the UK's premier comedy awards. The chosen panellist will receive accommodation, travel expenses, a goody bag and free tickets for all the comedy events they can survive. The closing date for entries is 19th June. Full details of how to take part can be found on the Edinburgh Fringe web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

The Rumour Machine says: that Simply Heavenly, Langston Hughes musical slice of 1950s Harlem life may return to the Young Vic in the autumn; that Miramax is making Bride And Prejudice, a Bollywood film version of Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice, which will include six songs, and if successful may be expanded into a stage musical; that an all star production of Oscar Wilde's A Woman Of No Importance will be coming to the Haymarket Theatre in the autumn; and (finally) that The Lord Of The Rings: The Musical is looking for a West End opening in 2005 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the publication of JRR Tolkein's epic. The Rumour Machine grinds on.