News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 29th October 2004

The Icelandic production of Romeo And Juliet, created in circus style by Artbox/Vesturport, featuring aerial and acrobatic choreography, which played at the Young Vic last year, is to open a West End season at the Playhouse Theatre on 18th November. Adapted by Gisli Orn Garoarsson, Tanya Ronder and Hallgrimur Helgason, it is directed by Gisli Orn Gardarson, who also leads the cast of eight with Nina Dogg Filippusdottir and Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson. The show is presented by the Ambassadors Theatre Group, Maidstone Productions, Robert Bartner and Gotti Sigurdarson.

The names of this year's thespians to be inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in New York have been announced. They are actors Len Cariou, Gregory Hines, Ian McKellen, Brian Murray and Estelle Parsons, playwright A R Gurney, designer Santo Loquasto and producer Elizabeth Ireland McCann. Jerry Orbach will host the 34th annual ceremony at the Gershwin Theatre on 24th January. The Hall of Fame was created in 1973 to honour performers and creatives who have made a lasting impression in American theatre. To be eligible for induction, a candidate must have a career that spans twenty five years, with at least five major stage credits. They are chosen by 350 voting members of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the American Theatre Critics Association. Membership is marked by a plaque located in the North Rotunda in the lobby of the Gershwin Theatre.

The much trailed stage musical adaptation of M M Kaye’s saga The Far Pavilions, starring Hadley Fraser and Karir Bedi, will receive its premiere at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 14th April. The show has book and lyrics by Stephen Clark, and music by Philip Henderson. Set in 19th century colonial India, it is a tale of forbidden romance between British army officer and an Indian princess, whose marriage has been arranged to a tyrannical ruler. It will be directed by Gale Edwards and produced by Michael E Ward.

The Theatre Royal Haymarket has announced further Masterclasses for young people who have an interest in theatre, or are keen to pursue a career in the arts. They feature the following masters of their arts: actors Helen McCrory and Greg Hicks, writers David Eldridge, Lynda La Plante and Christopher Hampton, and director John Caird. Sessions begin at 2pm and last around two and a half hours. Events are open to people aged between 17 and 30, and are free of charge. Those aged over 30 who would like to attend can now subscribe to a Friends scheme. There will also be a New Directions season, featuring premieres of plays directed by young directors Ari Edelson, Richard Beecham, Ruth Carney, Toby Frow, David Newman, Paul Robinson, Tim Roseman and Mark Rosenblatt. Tickets for these performances, taking place at 1pm, cost £2. Further information and online booking can be found on the Theatre Royal Haymarket web site via the link from the London Venues section of TheatreNet.

John Barrowman, Susannah Fellows, Deven May, Ray Shell and Lauren Ward will star in two British premiere performances of Elegies: A Song Cycle, by American composer William Finn, at the Arts Theatre on 7th and 14th November, directed by Jamie Lloyd. The show, which is a collection of 20 songs that are tributes to the friends and family members Finn has loved and lost over the years, premiered in 2003 at Lincoln Center in New York.

On The Casting Couch: Kim Cattrall will be joined by Ann Mitchell, Janet Suzman, William Chubb, Amita Dhiri, Alexander Sidding, Jotham Annan, Rachel Bavidge and Emma Lowndes in the new version of Brian Clark’s Whose Life Is It Anyway?, directed by Peter Hall, opening at the Comedy Theatre on 25th January; and Kevin Spacey will be joined by fellow Americans Mary Stuart Masterson and Steven Weber in the British premiere of Dennis McIntyre’s National Anthems, directed by Briton David Grindley, opening at the Old Vic Theatre on 8th February.

The Performing Right Society Foundation has launched a £50,000 award - the largest of its kind in Britain - to inspire the creation and performance of new contemporary music, with the winner guaranteed a public performance. The PRSF seeks to promote the creation and performance of a wide range of new music, through showcases, education projects, commissions and live performances. It has a number of funding schemes that have application deadlines spread throughout the year. The organisation is recognised for its fast decision making and free expert advice service for applicants. In 2003 the PRSF made 355 awards totalling £1.4m. Details of how to apply can be found on the PRSF web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

The Royal Shakespeare Company production of Beauty And The Beast, written and directed by Laurence Boswell, which returns to Stratford from 15th November to 16th January, will have received a substantial makeover - introducing new characters, songs and elements of physical theatre. It features Karen Paullada, Gary Sefton, Miltos Yerolemou and Jan Pearson.

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne Of Green Gables will be brought to the stage at the Lilian Baylis Theatre, from 30th November to 8th January, by adaptor by Emma Reeves, director by Andrew Loudon and producer Novel Theatre, the team behind Little Women currently at the Duchess Theatre. The Canadian classic is the tale of an orphan who goes to live on a rural smallholding and displays a propensity for getting into scrapes. The company comprises David Baron, Jenny Lee, Ruth Gibson, Beccy Armory, Matt Canavan, Joanna Croll, Tina Gray, Lisa Hewitt and Anjali Jay.

Billed as ‘a comedy drama with arias’, When Florence Met Isadora, written and directed by Judith Paris, plays at the Rosemary Branch Theatre from 22nd to 28th November. Set at imaginary soiree in New York in 1917, it features Valda Aviks as the diva manque Florence Foster Jenkins, and Paris as the unpredictable dancer Isadora Duncan, whose meeting produces more than a few sparks.

The Rumour Machine says: that Megan Mullally and Ewan McGregor may star in Michael Grandage’s West End production of Guys And Dolls, if McGregor’s film commitments and Mullally’s TV schedule will permit; and that Mark Rylance will bow out of Shakespeare’s Globe next year by playing Prospero in The Tempest. The Rumour Machine grinds on.