News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 30th November 2001

Thunderbirds are go on stage again, as Thunderbirds F.A.B, the show which was first seen in the West End in 1989, is back for its sixth and what is claimed to be final mission. The entertainment that apes the famous puppets, created by and featuring Andrew Dawson and Gavin Robertson, will play at the Aldwych Theatre from 13th December to 6th January. As before, the show will be in a double bill with Space Panorama, a solo mime performed by Dawson depicting the mission of Apollo 11.

Despite previous rumours of a stage show, the Beatles Yellow Submarine may become a vehicle for Cirque du Soleil, as the resident presentation for its theatre to be built at Battersea Power Station, if the development plans finally go ahead. The various rights holders are in discussion with Cirque about what form it could take. The international company's unique rock/contemporary dance/acrobatic/aerialist style would seem ideally suited to bring the psychedelic cartoon to life.

J M Barrie's Peter Pan appears to be this year's most popular festive offering, but it comes in many guises. One of the most interesting is at the Haymarket Theatre Leicester, which is providing an opportunity to see the rarely produced 1954 Broadway musical version. Originally created by Jerome Robbins and starring Mary Martin, it boasts music by Mark Charlap and Jule Styne (plus incidental music by Trude Rittman and Elmer Bernstein) and lyrics by Carolyn Leigh, and Betty Comden and Adolph Green. This production features Simon Greiff, Craig Purnell and Veronica Hart, is directed by Paul Kerryson, and runs until 26th January.

The Abbey Theatre Dublin production of Eugene O'Brien's Eden will transfer to the West End, opening at the Arts Theatre on 25th February. Part of the Irish "two blokes talking in a pub" movement, it is two 'intersecting monologues' charting a weekend in the life of a couple with a troubled marriage, performed Catherine Walsh and Don Wycherley, and directed by Conor McPherson.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Dept A reminder that December is the peak season for the purchase of Theatre Tokens. Available in units of 1, 5, 10 and 20, they can be exchanged for tickets at over 210 theatres nationwide, including all West End venues. As they have no expiry date, the recipient can choose which show they want to see, and when and where they want to see it. The Tokens are delivered in a presentation pack with a free theatre guide, and can be combined with programme, drink and meal packages. Tokens can be bought direct from the 24/7 Tokenline on 020 7240 8800 or online from the Theatre Tokens web site via the link from The Emporium section of TheatreNet. Alternatively they are available from most theatres, major bookshops and ticket agencies. Don't just give an object - give an emotional experience.

The Nuffield Theatre Southampton has a reputation for staging classic novels at Christmas, with strong emphasis on the story, plus spectacle, songs and audience participation. This year, adaptor and director Patrick Sandford has finally tackled Dickens A Christmas Carol, performed by his usual ensemble, led as always by Granville Saxon, playing until 12th January.

It's Official! The Chichester Festival Theatre production of the George and Ira Gershwin musical My One And Only will transfer to London, opening at the Piccadilly Theatre on 18th February. It stars Janie Dee and Tim Flavin and is directed by the ubiquitous Loveday Ingram. Based on the 1927 Broadway show Funny Face, it tells the story of a daredevil aviator who attempts to become the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic, but is sidetracked when he meets a singer. Noises Off, the current incumbent of the Piccadilly, is expected to transfer to a smaller theatre.

It looks as though The Fantasticks, the world's longest running musical, which has been playing at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village since 3rd May 1960, really is going to close. A new landlord is to reconfigure the building which houses 135 seat living-room-like theatre, converting part of it into apartments. As a result it will end with a gala week, hopefully including previous cast members, culminating in an invitation only performance on 13th January. There have been over 12,000 productions of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's show in America, and over 700 in at least 67 other countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The well known names who have played in different American productions include Jerry Orbach, F. Murray Abraham, Elliott Gould, Liza Minnelli, Richard Chamberlain, John Carradine and Robert Goulet. Meanwhile Jones and Schmidt have a new small scale show Roadside currently playing a showcase season uptown at the Off Broadway York Theatre. This is based on a play by Lynn Riggs, whose Green Grow The Lilacs became Oklahoma!. A story of early 20th century travellers, it stars G.W. Bailey and Julie Johnson, and has been staged as a tent-style travelling show of the period by Drew Scott Harris.

Nicholas Hytner's National Theatre production of Mark Ravenhill's play with music Mother Clap's Molly House is to transfer to the Aldwych Theatre in early February. It is a story set in eighteenth and twenty first century gay brothels. Most of the current cast are expected to continue with the show.

The 24th London International Mime Festival runs from 12th to 27th January, and features 18 companies from around the world, spanning the full range of visual theatre, including leading exponents of mime, animation, circus, puppetry, clowning and vaudeville. It begins at the Purcell Room with Diquis Tiquis Shy Shining Walls inspired by an eclectic mix of Hispanic culture, martial arts, and the clowning, theatre and dance techniques of Pilobolus, Grotowski, Bolek Polivka and Martha Graham. Performances are at the ICA, Battersea Arts Centre, The Circus Space, South Bank Centre and the National Theatre. Full details can be found on the LIMF web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.