Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews
Following the recent closures of theatres in Liverpool, Farnham, Chester and Greenwich, comes news of two other regional theatre in danger - the Swan in Worcester and the Palace Westcliff. West Midlands Arts is intending to scrap its grant to the Swan, and since this is the main source of public funding, it would inevitably lead to closure. This decision comes despite increased local authority funding, and the fact that the Swan is one of the few theatres without a deficit. WMA maintains that the company has no long term future in its existing building, and no hope of building a new one, now that Lottery funding rules have been changed. The Palace is to make its entire staff redundant during a nine month refurbishment next year, because lack of money precludes performances elsewhere, or even the presence of an Artistic Director to oversee the development and keep theatre in the public eye.
Although its Albery Theatre season is proving harder to sell than anticipated, the Almeida Theatre is extending the booking period of Phedre and Britannicus by two weeks until 12th December. It is then hoping for a hit by presenting Marc Almond from 15th to 19th December, following his sell-out appearances at the Almeida itself.
Results of the National Theatre's survey to find the 100 "most significant" English language plays of the century have been announced. Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot tops the list, followed by Arthur Miller's Death Of A Salesman and Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire. Top British contender is John Osborne's Look Back In Anger at number four, and then Eugene O'Neil's Long Day's Journey Into Night, Miller'sThe Crucible, Noel Coward's Private Lives, Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, Tony Kushner's Angels In America, and Harold Pinter's The Caretaker completing the top 10. A pretty poor showing overall for British work, with Miller the most nominated writer. The entire list will be performed at the National in extract, rehearsal or reading during the course of next year.
In order to make way for the dreaded Mamma Mia!, which will probably make Boogie Nights look like a musical, West Side Story is to transfer from the Prince Edward Theatre to the Prince Of Wales Theatre from the week of 18th January.
Sally Dexter will join Rufus Sewell in Thelma Holt's previously mentioned production of Macbeth, directed by John Crowley. It will open at Bath in February, and then tour before coming to the West End, possibly to the Queens Theatre.
It's Showtime is a new Broadway style theatre restaurant, opening in Shaftesbury Avenue in a few weeks time. Upstairs will be a New York Deli style buffet (with singing staff) open from breakfast to midnight. Downstairs the Showtime Theatre will offer dinner with a more up market menu, and a musical show - advanced booking and one sitting each evening. The plan is for the Theatre to be available during the day for showcases and workshops of new musical writing. The list of patrons includes Tom Conti, Ray Cooney, Maria Friedman, Bill Kenwright, Maureen Lipman and Nick Salmon.
Killing Rasputin, a new musical with book by Stephen Clark and Kit Heskith-Harvey, music by James McConnell and lyrics by Kit Heskith-Harvey will play at the Bridewell Theatre from 25th November to 16th January. The show centres on the struggles and counter struggles of Russia in 1915. It is directed by Ian Brown and the producer is Jumeira.
The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn is about to unveil a major £3m Lottery funded extension to its facilities. This includes a 300 seat cinema, an art studio, an air conditioned sprung floor rehearsal room and a new foyer. There will be a gala launch of the cinema on 12th November with Emma Thompson. Future plans include an outdoor theatre space.
The Young Vic Company is taking its previous Christmas hit, Tim Supple's adaptation and production of Grimm Tales to Broadway for the Holiday season. Meanwhile on its home ground, following the success of Haroun And The Sea Of Stories at the National, the creative team turns its attention to Arabian Nights from 16th November to 23rd January.
The Wallace Collection in Manchester Square W1 is hosting a series of concerts by international soloists in its Long Gallery, on Sundays at 11.30am from 1st November to 6th December. Presented by the Springboard Concerts Trust, each performance will last one hour, and be preceded by a private view of the collection from 10.30am. The Collection comprises of a fascinating mixture of paintings, decorative arts, and arms and armour, including The Laughing Cavalier, and Henry V's battle armour (horse and all). Further details from Lisa Peacock Concert Management on 0171 602 1416.
As part of Barclays Theatre Week from 2nd to 8th November, 50 seats at each performance of Amadeus at the Old Vic Theatre will be available at half price, for residents of SE1, SE11, and SE17. Personal bookings at the box office only from 12 noon daily, with proof of residency (library card/utility bill etc) required.