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Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre production of Baby Doll, which has just completed a run at the National Theatre, is to transfer to the Albery Theatre on 15th June. Lucy Bailey’s staging of the screenplay of 1956 film is the British premiere of Tennessee Williams’ steamy Southern tale of a man and his child bride, which was denounced as immoral when first seen in America. The cast is headed by Jonathan Cake and Charlotte Emmerson. Producers for the transfer are Promenade Productions and the Ambassador Theatre Group.

As always, Broadway’s Tony Award nominations feature a strong group of British contenders. Rosemary Harris – Waiting in the Wings – and daughter Jennifer Ehle – The Real Thing – fight it out for Leading Actress in a Play. Stephen Dillane – The Real Thing – David Suchet – Amadeus – and Irish actor Gabriel Byrne – A Moon For The Misbegotten – battle for Leading Actor in a Play. Copenhagen is up for Best Play. The Real Thing and Amadeus vie for Best Revival of a Play. Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida missed out on Best Musical but has five others including Best Score, and Bob Crowley for Best Costume and Best Set Design. The winners will be announced on 4th June. The complete list of nominees and further information can be found on the Tony Awards web site via the link from the Organisations section of TheatreNet.

A Busy Day, the recently discovered comedy by Fanny Burney, about two heiresses in love with the same man. is now confirmed to open on 7th June at the Lyric Theatre. It is a Bristol Old Vic production with Stephanie Beacham, Sara Crowe, Richard Kane John McCallum and Ben Moor, directed by Jonathan Church. The producer is Green and Lenagan.

The collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton on the new Irish football musical The Beautiful Game, which premieres at the Cambridge Theatre in September, is bearing yet more fruit. Elton is to write the screenplay for the long discussed film version of The Phantom Of The Opera. It will be directed by Shekhar Kapur, and will star Antonio Banderas as the Phantom, with Christine likely to be played by Laura Michelle Kelly, who starred in Whistle Down The Wind. The stage version opened in London in October 1986, and is the most financially successful show ever, grossing over £1.82 billion worldwide, having been seen by more than 50 million people in 91 cities in 15 countries.

St George’s Theatre Tufnell Park, which has been dark for over a decade, is to reopen in the autumn. Actor George Murcell originally created and ran the 450 seat Elizabethan style playhouse within a Grade II listed Victorian church. Dragon Multimedia is undertaking a £100,000 refurbishment for a relaunch on 16th September. Once the building is in operation there will be an ongoing programme to replace the seating, upgrade facilities and establish a resident company. Among the projects being lined up by artistic director Tom Barrie is a post Edinburgh Festival Fringe season, bringing the best of the Fringe to London.

The 106th season of the BBC Henry Wood Promenade Concerts takes place at the Royal Albert Hall between 14th July and 9th September. The world’s greatest music festival will centre on 72 main concerts (at least one every evening) with consistently low ticket prices, including 1000 “promming” tickets available each day an hour before the performance at only £3 each. In addition there will be a series of pre-Prom talks at the RAH, Chamber Music Proms at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Poetry Proms at the Serpentine Gallery and Composer Portraits at the Royal College of Music. The main themes for this millennial year are music inspired by man’s relationship with God, including some of the great oratorios, and Youth and Music, with new music for young people to perform and to listen to, culminating in Proms Millennium Youth Day on 12th August. The Last Night will include the fifth outdoor Proms in the Park, with 35,000 people in Hyde Park joining in, and simultaneous concerts running in Birmingham and Liverpool. Full details from the BBC Proms web site via the link from the Festivals section of TheatreNet.

Felicity Kendal and Frances de la Tour will star in a West End revival of Noel Coward’s Fallen Angels this autumn. First performed in 1925, the comedy tells of two married girlfriends who await the arrival of the man with whom they are both having an affair. Michael Rudman will direct.

The programme for the Bridewell Theatre’s summer musical season has been revised. Sweeney Todd, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by Hugh Wheeler, featuring Michael McLean and Jessica Martin runs from 2nd June to 15th July. It is directed by Richard James and produced by Sally Vaughan & Richard Jordan. Moving On, a new show devised and directed by David Kernan as a companion piece to Side By Side By Sondheim with material from Sondheim’s entire canon, runs from 19th July to 19th August. The cast includes Geoffrey Abbott, Linzi Hately, Robert Meadmore and Angela Richards, and is a Bridewell Theatre Company production. A series of Monday evening concerts of new musical theatre writing devised by Clive Paget plays alongside. The Cutting Edge from 19th June to 10th July presents the work of up and coming American writers Jason Robert Brown, Adam Guettel and Michael John LaChiusa. The Best Of British from 31st July to 14th August features new home grown talent. All The Way From America from 4th to 25th September consists of recent work by established American writers Cy Coleman, Kander and Ebb, William Finn and others.

Following the rediscovery of Peter Nichols with the Donmar revival of Passion Play, which is expected to transfer to the West End, comes the rehabilitation of Arnold Wesker. His new play Denial is playing at Bristol Old Vic until 10th June. It is an examination of False Memory Syndrome, as a family’s lives are torn apart by events that happened twenty years ago – or did they? The cast includes Jeremy Childs, Rosemary McHale and Bill Wallis, and Andy Hay directs.

Richard Eyre is to direct a new musical for producer Robert Fox, but what in prospect is an exciting partnership turns out to be somewhat disappointing. Instead of a genuinely new work it is to be a compilation show. Negotiations are under way for the rights to over 40 existing pop songs, and a story involving a long standing romantic relationship will be woven round those which are secured. Clive Rowe will play the leading role in the show, which will be workshopped at the National Theatre studio in the next few weeks, with production pencilled for the end of the year.

And Finally . . . Reprising its pioneering Playing In The Dark season of two years ago, the Battersea Arts Centre is presenting the Sound&Fury; Theatre Company’s production of Christopher Logue’s War Music on 16th and 17th May. Actors moving in total darkness will create with voice, movement and cinematic surround-sound effects (both live and recorded) a picture in epic scenes and intimate exchanges of the Trojan Wars. It is co-directed and designed by Mark Espiner, Dan Jones and Tom Espiner.

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