News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 13th August 2004

The Los Angeles based theatre company The Actors' Gang will perform their production of Embedded, written and directed by Tim Robbins, at the Riverside Studios, from 31st August to 23rd October. It is a raucous black comedy following journalists travelling with the US military during the Iraq war. Writer, actor and director Robbins was one of the founding members of The Actors' Gang in 1981, and is now their artistic director.

Little Women, adapted by Emma Reeves from the novel (and its sequel Good Wives) by Louisa May Alcott, directed by Andrew Loudon, opens at the Duchess Theatre on 13th October. In the American classic, set in New England during the 1860's, four sisters grow up in genteel poverty against the backdrop of the American Civil War. Casting has yet to be confirmed, but Sarah Grochala, Sarah Edwardson, Nikki Leigh Scott and Ann Micklethwaite played the sisters when the production ran at the Lilian Baylis Theatre at Sadler's Wells.

Northern Ballet's new season will include: the UK premiere of David Nixon's Dangerous Liaisons, Laclos's story of deception and seduction in 18th century France, originally created for BalletMet Columbus, which is performed to a live narration and music by Vivaldi, at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds on 3rd September; a new production of J M Barrie's Peter Pan, directed and choreographed by David Nixon, and co-directed by Patricia Doyle, with the first ever ballet score by Stephen Warbeck, opening at the Grand Theatre in Leeds on 18th December; and the UK premiere of Veronica Paeper's La Traviata, telling the story of Alexandra Dumas's The Lady Of The Camelias, originally created for Cape Town City Ballet, performed to Verdi's opera score, arranged by Allen Stephenson, at the Grand Theatre in Leeds on 11th February.

Bill Bailey will bring Part Troll, his stand up show from last year's Edinburgh Fringe, to the Apollo Theatre for a six week run from 25th October. The show made a brief appearance at Wyndham's last October, and toured earlier this year.

The autumn season at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester features a mixture of classics and new writing. In the main house productions include: Kes, adapted from Barry Hines's novel by Lawrence Till, about an isolated young boy and his relationship with a kestrel, with William Beck and Jane Hazlegrove, directed by Sarah Frankcom; Volpone, Ben Jonson's comedy about avarice, featuring Gerard Murphy and Neil Stuke, directed by Greg Hersov; Dion Boucicault's farcical comedy of manners London Assurance, directed by Jacob Murray; and Rutherford And Son by Githa Sowerby, about the struggle for control of a family business just before the First World War, directed by Sarah Frankcom. In the studio, the two UK premieres are: A Conversation by Australian playwright David Williamson, in which the family of a murdered daughter meet her killer's parents, directed by Jacob Murray; and Kelly Stuart's Mayhem, about an American woman's struggle to come to terms with her new view of the world and her country's place within it, directed by Tim Stark.

The Open Air Theatre in Regent Park's late night indoor performances in the Robert Atkins Studio conclude with the absurdist French writer Rene de Obaldia's The Baby Sitter, translated by Donald Watson, and directed by Laura Baggaley, on 20th and 21st August. Trapped at home when the baby sitter doesn't show up a couple receive an unexpected visit from an eccentric Sister of the Salvation Army. The Open Air Theatre is planning expand its future use of the Studio to include comedy, cabaret, dance and other one-off shows. The space, which is named after Robert Atkins, the actor manager who established and ran the theatre for nearly 30 years, was refurbished this year to include 100 raked seats and new lighting equipment.

Tara Fitzgerald and Lloyd Owen star as a novelist and a journalist who find themselves in Cuba writing the same article for different newspapers in Michael Frayn's comedy Clouds, directed by Jennie Darnell, which opens prospective pre West End tour at the Cambridge Arts Theatre on 21st October. It is produced by Matthew Byam Shaw and Act Productions.

Brits On Broadway: Brenda Blethyn stars with Edie Falco in Marsha Norman's 'night, Mother, charting the course of a day in which a daughter tells her mother that she intends to commit suicide that evening, and the mother's attempts to dissuade her, directed by Michael Mayer, opening at the Royale Theatre on 14th November; and Off Broadway, Shockheaded Peter, the idiosyncratic self styled 'junk opera' adaptation of Heinrich Hoffman's Struwwelpeter, with the original cast of Julian Bleach, Anthony Cairns, Graeme Gilmour, Tamzin Griffin, Jo Pocock, Martyn Jacques and The Tiger Lillies, directed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, opens at 37 Arts Theatre on 14th January.

On The Casting Couch: Michael Jibson, Sophia Ragavelas, Harriet Thorpe, Paul Bentall, Anthony Clegg, David Burt, Michelle Hooper, Nick Lumley, Neil McCaul, Gary Milner, Corrina Powlesland, Elizabeth Price, Joshua Richards and Andy Durham will feature in the musical Brighton Rock, opening at the Almeida Theatre on 5th October; and Clive Rowe and Ruby Turner will be joined by Kenny Andrews, Allyson Brown, Gerod Harris, Dawn Hope, Nicola Hughes, Melanie Marshall and Rhashan Stone in Simply Heavenly, opening at the Trafalgar Studios 2 on 19th October.

The award winning 1960s Broadway gospel musical Purlie, with book by Ossie Davis, music by Gary Geld, and lyrics by Peter Udell, will receive its European premiere at the Bridewell Theatre from 7th September to 2nd October. The cast features Miquel Brown, Irene M Forrester, Joanna Francis, Tee Jaye, John Lyons, David Menkin, Mykal Rand and Victoria Wilson, directed by Omar F Okai, with choreography by Mykal Rand. In the American South, in a town virtually owned by one man, an idealistic young preacher attempts to bring freedom to the townfolk by inventing an ingenious scheme to reclaim the people's rights. The show is produced by the Okai Collier Company.

Last Word On: the creative process "All art - except perhaps ceramics - is autobiographical." - Clive Barnes.

Richard Cameron's The Glee Club, with Stefan Bednarczyk, Mike Burns, Steve Garti, James Hornsby, Oliver Jackson and Colin Tarrant, opens a regional tour at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds on 6th September. Set in 1962 in a northern village, it tells the story of an amateur close harmony singing group, comprised of five miners and a church organist, as they prepare for a gala concert. It is directed by Mike Bradwell, who directed the original production at Bush Theatre two years ago, and is co-produced by the Bush and the Octagon Theatre in Bolton.

The Rumour Machine says: that Pink Floyd's The Wall is to be developed as a stage show for Broadway, with Roger Waters writing the book and adapting the music; that Michael Gambon will play Falstaff in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, directed by Nicholas Hytner at the National Theatre next year; and that Nicholas Wright's two part adaptation of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is undergoing substantial rewrites prior to its return to the National Theatre at Christmas. The Rumour Machine grinds on.