News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th October 2009

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Arthur Miller's All My Sons, with David Suchet and Zoe Wannamaker, directed by Howard Davies, will open at the Apollo Theatre on 27th May. It is the story of a man who sold defective airplane parts to the military, and deflected the blame to his business partner, whose complicity comes to light when his son plans to marry the partner's daughter. The producers are Stanhope Productions, Sonia Friedman and Eric Falkenstein.

The Donmar Warehouse has announced its 2010 season, comprising Lanford Wilson's Serenading Louie, about two thirtysomething couples who marry and settle down, and then begin to wonder what has happened to their lives, directed by Simon Curtis, opening on 16th February; the premiere of Mark Haddon's Polar Bears, about a man's struggle to love, support and live with a woman suffering from bi-polar disorder, directed by Jamie Lloyd, opening on 6th April; and the musical Passion, book by James Lapine, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, adapted from a Victorian novella set in an Italian military town, where a woman's obsessive love threatens a soldier and his married mistress, possibly featuring Elena Roger, directed by Jamie Lloyd, opening in the autumn.

New York TheatreNet: The Donmar Warehouse staging of Stephen Dillane reading T S Eliot's Four Quartets, accompanied by the Miro Quartet, directed by Katie Mitchell, will play at the Baryshnikov Arts Center on 2nd and 3rd December; and its production of August Strindberg's rarely seen Creditors, a comic tale of obsession, in a new version by David Greig, with the original cast of Anna Chancellor, Owen Teale and Tom Burke, directed by Alan Rickman, will play at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theater from 16th April.

High definition filmed versions of theatre productions from companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Court, Young Vic, English Touring Theatre and Almeida, are to be made available to download through a new iTunes-style website called Digital Theatre, launched this week. The films will be copy protected and only be playable through specific free to download software. The first shows available are English Touring Theatre's production of Thomas Hardy's Far From The Madding Crowd, directed by Kate Saxon, filmed at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, and Clare Bayley's The Container, in which the audience shares the confines of a container with five illegal immigrants travelling to the UK, directed by Tom Wright, presented by the Young Vic. Royalties will be paid to the theatres, creatives and performers, in line with agreements between Digital Theatre and Equity and Bectu. Further information can be found on the Digital Theatre web site, via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Simon Callow will perform a double bill of two rarely seen one man plays, written and first performed by Charles Dickens, Dr Marigold and Mr Chops, at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, from 12th December to 31st January.

The National Theatre of Scotland has announced its productions for the first half of 2010: a new version of J M Barrie's Peter Pan by David Greig, directed by John Tiffany; Wall Of Death - A Way Of Life, created by Stephen Skrynka and the Ken Fox Troupe, which examines life in the circus, and will tour to showgrounds; and a season of plays aimed at teenagers, Douglas Maxwell's Miracle Man, Catherine Ford's Empty, both directed Vicky Featherstone, and While Mr Write, created and performed by Rob Drummond, based on an audience member's own life.

Cirque du Soleil will return to the Royal Albert Hall with Varekai, the story of a journey through a magical forest populated by fantastical creatures, told with its usual mixture of circus skills, music and special effects, directed by Dominic Champagne, from 6th January.

Mainly On Directing: Gypsy, West Side Story And Other Musicals by Arthur Laurents, recently published by Borzoi Books, is as close to 'from the horse's mouth' as you can get. The playwright, screenwriter and director dispenses the wisdom gained during a career spanning five decades, during which time he has worked with almost everyone in American musical theatre. Laurents writes freely and frankly, in most detail about his recent Broadway productions of West Side Story and Gypsy, two of the greatest classics of the American musical stage, but also about the string of shows that preceded them. He is insightful, incisive, and very opinionated, taking no prisoners in regard to his collaborators - for instance, making no secret of his disapproval of Sam Mendes's 2003 production of Gypsy, and even the show's original star, Ethel Merman. Laurents also writes about the works of other directors, including productions of Fiddler On The Roof, Kiss Me, Kate, Spring Awakening, Street Scene, The Phantom Of The Opera, LoveMusik and Sweeney Todd. This book is moving, passionate, exhilarating and provocative - a portrait of an artist working with other artists.

Fiona Shaw will perform T S Eliot's epic poem The Waste Land, directed by Deborah Warner, at Wilton's Music Hall, from 30th December to 10th January. Shaw previously performed the piece in the same venue for a similar Christmas run in 1997. Wilton's, the oldest surviving music hall in London, is in Grace Alley off Cable Street E1.

Potted Potter - The Unauthorised Harry Experience, all the J K Rowling books in 70 minutes, written and performed by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, directed by Richard Hurst, will return to Trafalgar Studios 2 for a 3rd Christmas season from 8th December to 2nd January.

Forthcoming productions at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill will include the world premieres of Breathing Irregular, using contemporary dance to tell a series of true stories celebrating the human capacity to cope and to survive, created and directed by Carrie Cracknell, choreography by Jane Mason, with Eva Magyar from 28th January; and Micro, a physical concert directed and choreographed by Pierre Rigal, inspired by the iconic imagery of 20th century rock musicians, with Melanie Chartreux, Malik Djoudi, Gwenael Drapeau and Julien Lepreux, from 7th April, a co-production with compagnie derniere minute.

The next production by Holiday On Ice will be Spirit, based on the themes of the elements: earth, air, fire and water, with a cast of skaters from around the world, in a show featuring airborne gymnastics as well as dance on the ice, directed by Robin Cousins, and choreographed by Karen Kresge, which will open a national tour at the Brighton Centre on 7th January.