News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 31st August 2001

As previously forecast, Joan Collins will return to the West End in Ken Ludwig's Broadway hit Moon Over Buffalo at the Old Vic Theatre on 15th October, co-starring with American actor Frank Langella. The farcical comedy tells the story of two actors whose thirty year marriage hits the rocks during a performance of a show in which they are playing in Buffalo, on the night a Hollywood director is out front. Ray Cooney will direct the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Guildford production, which will be presented by Bill Kenwright.

Despite an altercation with New York's Theater Development Fund over the copyright of the name, the Society Of London Theatre's Official Half Price Ticket Booth in Leicester Square will be known as tkts from 11th September. This move is partly in an effort to distinguish it from the myriad of ticket touts in adjoining streets who have appropriated the term 'half price'. It also reflects the changes that will see a wider range of: shows - from SOLT affiliate members the Almeida, Hampstead, Lyric Hammersmith and Young Vic theatres; prices - with 25% off, 50% off and full price tickets for that day's performances; payment methods - credit/debit cards and theatre tokens acceptable; and opening hours - 10am to 7pm on Mondays to Saturdays and Midday to 3pm on Sundays. The recognition factor gained by adopting the internationally known brand name of the original Broadway ticket booth, which opened in Times Square in 1973, will also be helpful in promoting sales to visitors.

The Play Wot I Wrote, the previously mentioned show written by Sean Foley and Hamish McColl (who trade as The Right Size), will arrive in the West End at Wyndhams Theatre on 5th November, directed by Kenneth Branagh. The premise is two comedians who are asked to do a show about Morecambe and Wise (hence the title). The final 20 minutes will be the 'play', which will feature a different guest star each night. So far 28 names have agreed to take part. The show is a co-production with David Pugh.

The current incumbent of Wyndhams, Yasmina Reza's Art, will celebrate its fifth birthday in the West End on 14th October by transferring to the Whitehall Theatre. It will open on 16th October with Nigel Havers, Barry Foster and Roger Lloyd Pack as the three friends who fall out over a modern painting. Also produced by David Pugh.

Baz Luhrmann is to restage on Broadway the modern production of Puccini's La Boheme which originally brought him to fame. The Opera Australia production played three sell out seasons and was subsequently released on video. Luhrman will present the New York production in May, in association with the producers of Rent, itself a modern reinterpretation of the same story. Luhrman uses trained opera singers who perform in Italian, but the emphasis is on youth, with electronically enhanced sound and a conventional show orchestra. As with Rent, the front two rows of the stalls will be sold at a cheap rate on the day to encourage a young audience.

Birmingham Symphony Hall is celebrating its 10th anniversary with the installation of a Klais pipe organ in its previously empty organ case. Work is due to be completed by 19th October for an inaugural gala concert by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, with a programme that includes the world premiere of a specially commissioned piece by Michael Nyman. On the following afternoon there will be a demonstration by Philipp Klais who is building the organ, and an inaugural solo recital. Currently each of the instrument's 6000 pipes is being individually tuned and voiced by hand. Progress can be monitored in the Organ Installation Diary on the Symphony Hall web site, which can be found via the link from the Regional Theatres section of TheatreNet.

Edinburgh Fringe Report: The Festival's over and the survivors head south.Definite London transfers are: Tim Fountain's Resident Alien with Bette Bourne as Quentin Crisp to The Drill Hall; and Pyromania and the musical All Cloned Up (including the dancing sheep) to the Bloomsbury Theatre. Possibles are: Stephen Adly Guirgis Jesus Hopped The A Train about two murders awaiting trial considering what they've done; and Anna Manahan in John B Keane's Irish comedy The Matchmaker. On the road is Abi Morgan's Tiny Dynamite, with Scott Graham, Steven Hoggett and Jasmine Hyde in a tale of childhood friends brought back together by a chance meeting, co-produced by Paines Plough and Frantic Assembly.

A promenade production of In The Solitude Of Cotton Fields, by French playwright Bernard-Marie Koltes, directed by Gordon Anderson, is to be staged in the disused Aldwych Underground station from 21st to 29th September. The audience will follow the cast of two, Zubin Varla and David Westhead, from the Strand entrance through the station to the Surrey Street exit. The station has often been used as a film location since it closed in 1994, but has only once before seen a live performance. The former Piccadilly line branch station does have theatrical roots however, as it was built on the site of the Royal Strand Theatre, which was demolished in 1905.

The Beckett Festival, which was part of the BITE:99 season at the Barbican Centre, is to return on film. All 19 films made of the entire Beckett canon will be shown between 13th and 20th September, in their first cinema screening. They will be accompanied by talks and interviews with some of the all star line up of directors and actors involved, including Conor McPherson, Anthony Minghella, John Hurt, Karel Reisz and John Crowley. Harold Pinter will introduce the opening gala.

The Royal Court theatre bookshop is holding a play text sale from 3pm to 10pm on 5th September, with up to 50% off titles. As the home of new writing, I suppose they have to get rid of the old from time to time to make room.

The Rumour Machine says: that conductor Lorin Maazel is writing an opera based on George Orwell's 1984 for the Royal Opera House; that Stephanie Powers will replace Josie Lawrence in The King And I in October; and that following her appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe, Joan Rivers hopes to do a West End season some time next year. The Rumour Machine grinds on.