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News and Events

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 27th November 2015

The recent Shakespeare's Globe production of Jessica Swale's Nell Gwynn, about the orange seller turned actress turned Charles II's mistress, with Gemma Arterton, directed by Christopher Luscombe, will be remounted at the Apollo Theatre, opening on 12th February.

The National Theatre's Annual Report for 2014/2015 reveals that it had a record breaking year financially, with income of 117.7m, giving 3,380 performances in Britain and internationally, partly thanks to the West End transfers of War Horse, Great Britain and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, which is also playing on Broadway. 68% of income came from box office receipts, while 15% comprised Arts Council funding (a figure that continues to fall). At the South Bank there were 25 productions, 13 of them new plays, which achieved 90% attendance, with 29% of audiences first time bookers. The NT Live programme of streaming productions live to cinemas continued to grow with 600 venues in Britain, reaching an audience of 1.2m, producing an income of 6.1m.

On The Casting Couch: Dean John-Wilson, Jade Ewen, Trevor Dion Nicholas, Don Gallagher, Peter Howe and Irvine Iqbal will head the cast of the Chad Beguelin-Alan Menken-Howard Ashman-Tim Rice musical Aladdin, opening at the Prince Edward Theatre on 9th June.

Highlights of this year's Evening Standard Theatre Awards include: Best Actor: James McAvoy - The Ruling Class; Best Actress: Nicole Kidman - Photograph 51; Best Musical Performance: Imelda Staunton - Gypsy; Best Play: The Motherf**ker With The Hat - Stephen Adly Guirgis; Best Musical: Kinky Boots - Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper; Best Director: Robert Icke - Oresteia; and awards to Vanessa Redgrave and Stephen Sondheim for their contributions to theatre. The full listing can be found at Evening Standard web site, via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of TheatreNet.

The spring season at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester will include Shakespeare's King Lear, with Don Warrington, directed by Michael Buffong, from 1st April; and the premieres of Sarah Waters's The Night Watch, adapted by Hattie Naylor, which moves backwards from the devastation of the London Blitz to knit together the threads of five lives, directed by Sarah Frankcom, opening on 24th May; and Howard Jacobson's The Mighty Walzer, adapted by Simon Bent, the story of a misspent youth in 1950s Manchester, directed by Jonathan Humphreys, opening on 5th July.

Forthcoming productions at Southwark Playhouse, at the Elephant and Castle, will include Rob Hayes's This Will End Badly, a monologue examining relationships and the understanding of masculinity, performed by Ben Whybrow, directed by Clive Judd, from 12th January; and Ernest Hemingway's only full length play The Fifth Column, set during the Spanish Civil War, about a counter espionage agent working for the Loyalist cause, who falls in love with a journalist, with Elizabeth Jane Cassidy, Catherine Cusack, Simon Darwen, Michael Edwards, James El-Sharawy, Carl Gilbey-Mackenzie, Joshua Jacob, Theo Hristov, Harvey Steven Meneses, Emeka Seesay and Stephen Ventura, directed by Tricia Thorns, opening on 29th March.

And Finally . . . The King's Head Theatre, in Islington, will stage an unusual opera and play repertoire from 1st March. A contemporary take on Mozart's opera Cosi Fan Tutti, adapted and directed by Paul Higgins, will alternate with Louis Nowra's comedy Cosi, in which a young director attempts to stage a production of the opera performed by the inmates of a mental institution (none of whom can speak Italian or sing), directed Wayne Harrison.


Opening This Week

Linda - Royal Court
Penelope Skinner's play charting the midlife crisis of a woman who appears to have it all, with Noma Dumezweni, Amy Beth Hayes and Ian Redford, directed by Michael Longhurst.


First Nights

1st - Linda - Royal Court
7th - Hangmen - Wyndham's
8th - Cymbeline - Wanamaker Playhouse
9th - A Christmas Carol - Noel Coward
9th - Peter Pan Goes Wrong - Apollo
10th - - National Olivier
12th - Henry IV Part 1 - Barbican Theatre
14th - Henry IV Part 2 - Barbican Theatre
15th - The Gruffalo - Vaudeville
16th - The Lorax - Old Vic
17th - Les Liaisons Dangereuses - Donmar Warehouse
17th - Goodnight Mister Tom - Duke of York's


28th - Gypsy - Savoy
28th - Showstopper! The Improvised Musical - Apollo
5th - Teddy Ferrara - Donmar Warehouse
5th - Farinelli And The King - Duke of York's
5th - Dawn French: 30 Million Minutes - Vaudeville
19th - Here We Go - National Lyttelton