Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Royce Ryton's Crown Matrimonial, with Patricia Routledge, Rufus Wright, Emma Handy, Richard Hansell, Sam Hoare, Darlene Johnson, Laurence Kennedy, Jennifer Oscard, Rebecca Saire, Augustina Seymour and Dominic Cazenove, directed by David Grindley, will open a prospective pre West End tour at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford on 4th June. The play charts the events leading up to the abdication of King Edward VIII in 1936, in order to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The producers are Fabian Productions, Act Productions, St Elmo Productions and Lee Menzies.
It's Official! As previously forecast here, Jay Johnson will perform his Tony Award winning Broadway show Jay Johnson: The Two And Only, in which he analyses a lifelong obsession with ventriloquism (with the help of a number of 'characters') at the Arts Theatre, off Charing Cross Road, from 2nd July. The producers are Clayton Collier Theatrical, Stewart F Lane / Bonnie Comley, Tiger WGP and Martin Witts.
Longborough Festival Opera, one of the 'alternative Glyndebournes', presents its 19th season, running from 11th June to 26th July. It comprises new productions of Verdi's La Traviata, with Martina Zadro, Jaewoo Kim and Robert Presley, directed by Sarah V Chew; and Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen, with Ella Kirkpatrick, Christina Haldane and Paul Keohone, directed by Richard Studer; plus the return of Wagner's Das Rheingold, with Philip Joll or Donald McIntyre and Alan Fairs, directed by Alan Privett. In order to accommodate a dinner interval performances generally begin at 6.30pm. Further information can be found on the LFO web site, via the link from Dance & Opera in the Links section of TheatreNet.
On The Casting Couch: Patricia Hodge, Lynda Bellingam and Elaine C Smith will be among the Calendar Girls, opening at Chichester Festival Theatre on 10th September; and Simon Russell Beale, Sinead Cusack and Rebecca Hall will be joined by Richard Easton, Ethan Hawke and Josh Hamilton in The Bridge Project productions of The Winter's Tale and The Cherry Orchard, opening at Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York in January, and the Old Vic Theatre next summer.
Oxford Shakespeare Company will again be performing a season of open air performances, with a production of Twelfth Night at Wadham College Gardens in Oxford from 30th June to 1st August, at Kensington Palace from 2nd to 15th August and the East Front Garden of Hampton Court Palace from 16th to 24th August.
This year's Greenwich and Docklands Festival, which runs from 19th to 22nd June, features processions, pyrotechnics and performance from major international companies, all free and taking place outdoors. Highlights include: Fanfare, the launch with French companies Zic Zazou, Compagnie Midi and Rose 'n Co combining confetti, majorettes, neon clad rock and roll, fire and pyrotechnic effects, plus a giant caterpillar that swallows the audience; Dancing City, with all kinds of dance and acrobatics in the squares and waterfronts of Canary Wharf, including overhead tango courtesy of Wired Aerial Theatre company; the story of running told with the help of mass choreography, new music, projection and inventive machinery at the National Maritime Museum; and Chinese landscape painting brought to life on an epic scale, with aerial performance, martial arts and innovative multi-media effects at The O2 Arena. Further information can be found on the G&DF web site via the link from Festivals in the Links section of TheatreNet.
Eric Bogosian's SubUrbia, with Alister Barton, Claire Chate, Kate Bishop, Nicholas Dawkes, Saskia Fischer, Rahim Galia, Mandeesh Gill, Steve Lennon and Giles Roberts, directed by Matthew Hahn, will open at the Southwark Playhouse on 12th June. The play charts an evening in the company of a group of youths whose lives are fuelled by sex, drugs and alcohol, as they await the return of an old school friend who has found success as a musician. The producer is LOST Theatre.
The autumn season at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester will include Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, tranlsated by Michael Frayn, about the aspirations of the siblings in rural Russia, directed by Sarah Frankcom, from 10th September; Sophocles's Antigone, translated by Don Taylor, in which the laws of the gods, are pitted against the laws of men, when Antigone is not allowed to bury her apparently traitorous brother, directed by Greg Hersov, from 14th October; Shelagh Delaney's A Taste Of Honey, the groundbreaking portrait of the chaging world of Britain in the late 1950s, directed by Jo Combes, from 12th November; Philip King's See How They Run, the classic farce involving myriad clergeymen, directed by Sarah Frankcom, from 19th December; and the world premiere of Brad Fraser's True Love Lies, in which the reappearance of an old flame brings a marriage into question, directed by Braham Murray, from 27th January.
New York TheatreNet: Recently released on DVD in Britain by Liberation Entertainment, Show Business: The Road To Broadway is a feature length backstage documentary charting the production of four musicals nominated for the 2004 Tony Award for Best Musical - Avenue Q, Caroline, or Change, Taboo and Wicked. It covers the entire process from casting, through rehearsals and opening night, to "and the winner is…" (not the one you're expecting). With a cast list including Alan Cumming, Boy George, Idina Menzel, Kristen Chenoweth, Raul Esparza, Rosie O'Donnell, Tonya Pinkins, Stephen Schwartz and Tony Kushner, it offers a 'never before seen' look at the inner workings of Broadway musicals. Further information and purchase from the Dress Circle web site, via the link from The Emporium, in the Links section of TheatreNet.
Scottish Opera has announced its 2008/2009 season, which includes new productions of Cimarosa's The Secret Marriage, with Rebecca Bottone and Renate Arends, directed by Harry Fehr; Verdi's La Traviata, with Carmen Giannattasio, Federico Lepre and Richard Zeller, directed by David McVicar, a co-production with Welsh Opera; Massenet's Manon, with Anne Sophie Duprels and Paul Charles Clarke, directed by Renaud Doucet; and Smetna's The Two Widows, with Jane Irwin and Kate Valentine, directed by Tobias Hoheisel and Imogen Kogge; plus the Opera National du Rhin in Strasbourg production of Cosi Fan Tutte, also directed by David McVicar; and the return of Five:15, the experiment to find new opera writing partnerships.
The Rumour Machine says: that Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart may star in Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot, directed by Sean Mathias, at the Haymarket Theatre next year; that a musical version of Doctor Zhivago, adhering faithfully to the Boris Pasternak novel, with music by Lucy Simon and lyrics by Michael Korie and Amy Powers, is hoping for a London production late this year; and that the sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera, provisionally titled Phantom: Once Upon Another Time, is aiming to premiere in the West End in November next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.