Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

July 27 2012

Seven days on stage: Will Olympic tourists sprint over to the West End?

As the curtain rises on the Olympics, London's Theatreland is on tenterhooks about ticket sales, while a new musical prepares to take wing at Beijing's Bird's Nest Olympic stadium

Late sprint?

With the Olympics getting into full swing this weekend, London's West End – and its theatres in particular – are on tenterhooks, waiting to discover whether any of the incoming tourists will make the trip across the capital to see a show. Earlier in the year, Andrew Lloyd Webber warned that the summer would be a "bloodbath" for Theatreland, with theatres left empty and ticket sales through the floor. While that doesn't seem likely to happen – according to a report we on the Stage have produced this week – there's still a big question mark over whether the influx of overseas visitors will make up for a "noticeable" dip in advanced sales.

Birdsong in Beijing

In Beijing – the last Olympic host city – an example emerged this week of the potential benefits that the Games can bring to the performing arts. China's National Stadium, better known as the Bird's Nest Olympic venue, is to host its first ever stage musical. Fascination, as it's called, will open this September and will run for three years, playing to a potential capacity of 10,000 people per show.

Less than super

You could be forgiven for not having noticed, but Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest TV talent show – Superstar – drew to a close this week. The final of the ITV show – held slightly strangely on Wednesday night – played to 3.3 million viewers, less than half the number that similar BBC contests have attracted. As well as not proving a massive hit with viewers, the show has also sparked a few strong opinions within the industry, with Gavin and Stacey star Joanna Page describing the contest as "insulting".

Tattoo close to the bone

Controversy in Germany, meanwhile, where the Bayreuth festival opened this week, but with one notable absentee. Yevgeny Nikitin, the bass-baritone who had been due to sing the title role in a new production of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, dropped out of the event after a row centring on a Nazi tattoo emblazoned on his chest. It proved a particularly sensitive subject given the festival's (and Wagner's) historic links to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.

Stirling work

In Northern Ireland, the new Belfast Lyric Theatre is celebrating its nomination for the prestigious Stirling prize for architecture. The venue is up against – among others – the London Olympic Stadium for the prize, which will be announced in October. Encouragingly, William Hill has the Lyric at 4 to 1 to win, compared to 5 to 1 for the Olympic stadium.

Warehouse to courthouse

London's Donmar Warehouse theatre finds itself facing a lawsuit from David Birrell, an actor who was blinded in one of his eyes after a prop gun misfired during a show. The accident happened during the 2010 production of The Passion. He is seeking £250,000 in damages.

And finally ...

Ghost the musical, which had already announced its closure in the West End this October, will now also bid farewell to Broadway. The show will shutter in New York in August, after a run of 136 performances. Still, it's not quite the end of the road: a Dutch version opens in August, while there are also plans for a US tour and other international versions.

Follow Friday – my theatrical Twitter tips

@lyricbelfast – the official Twitter feed for Northern Ireland's only full-time producing theatre, the Lyric Theatre in Belfast. Some interesting extra content – pics, videos and the like – available via Twitter, plus the obligatory endless retweets of people saying nice things about the theatre.

@thebenforster – Ben Forster is the winner of ITV's search for a Jesus to appear in Andrew Lloyd Webber's revival of Jesus Christ Superstar. Lots of thanking of his supporters going on at the moment, but it will be interesting to see if he gives an insight into rehearsals for the arena tour.

@jopage – Joanna Page, best known for her role in Gavin and Stacey, but also an established stage actress. Not a huge fan of TV talent shows, it seems, but, judging from her Twitter feed, does seem to like dogs a lot.

Alistair Smith is deputy editor of The Stage. You can follow me @smithalistair


guardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds




June 07 2011

This week's arts diary

Lloyd Webber relaunches Love Never Dies, plus Donald Trump's golf course, Dave Stewart sells Hirst to save art, and Wilton's gets the thumbs down

Love Never Dies not dead yet

Andrew Lloyd Webber is positively beaming at the new version of his not-entirely-acclaimed Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies. It's "quite extraordinary", he told the Diary. The downside (unless you live there) is that it's in Melbourne. But Lloyd Webber, who was in the city for the opening last week, is optimistic that this version will eventually make it to London's West End, probably after opening in Sydney, Tokyo, Toronto, and then Broadway.

If you recall, Love Never Dies opened to grim reviews in March 2010 (it was dubbed Paint Never Dries by some), but then was rejigged by the producer Bill Kenwright. It's still not as good as it should be in Lloyd Webber's eyes, however.

The Melbourne show started almost from scratch. "It's a new production in every single way, wonderfully designed and wonderfully directed," says Lloyd Webber. "We didn't quite get it right in London. To let somebody else have a go is sometimes a very good idea. Forgetting that I have anything to do with it, I'd go so far as to say that, as a piece of musical theatre, it's as good as I've seen – ever."

Lloyd Webber says he wants to "let it settle" in Australia, since much of next year will be spent touring Jesus Christ Superstar. But the end plan does seem to be a move to London, where it would replace the Love Never Dies currently running at the Adelphi. "I'm confident it will be the production that, eventually, everyone remembers," he says.

Donald Trump's golf-course

A documentary chronicling the almost unbelievable ease with which Donald Trump was allowed to build a £1bn golf course for the mega-rich on environmentally protected dunes north of Aberdeen will get its UK premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest on Friday. You've Been Trumped won plaudits at Toronto film festival, and Anthony Baxter's film, which the Diary has seen, is certainly compelling stuff.

Trump (right) comes across as a buffoon and bully, while Alex Salmond's Scottish government seems to roll over and say yes please, no problem. Grampian police, which put Baxter in a cell for four hours and held on to his camera for six days, also come across badly. So what will the reaction in Scotland be?

Baxter tells me that arts investors Creative Scotland refused his initial application for money – he wanted £10,000 – on "lack of audience interest" grounds. The Edinburgh film festival declined to show it and "told me not to ask for a reason". So in Scotland it will show instead at Aberdeen's Belmont Picturehouse on 17 June.

Dave Stewart sells Hirst to save art

The Guardian reported at the weekend that musician Dave Stewart was selling seven works from his contemporary art collection, including a Damien Hirst spot painting that is presumably close to his heart – in that it is dedicated to Stewart himself. The one question that went unanswered was why he's selling. Stewart now tells the Diary: "I'm selling because I'm investing in something revolutionary that will help artists in the future." We can't wait to hear more.

Thumbs down for Wilton's

It was a genuine shame that Wilton's Music Hall in east London failed in its bid to get money from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Here is an amazing building, the world's oldest working music hall, playing host to some wonderful work including a terrific all-male Iolanthe in April. Wilton's wanted £2.25m of lottery money to put towards the £3.8m it needs for renovating and conservation. The refusal must be a blow, but director Frances Mayhew remains ever optimistic. "If we do nothing, by autumn this year we would be closed down," she said. "We won't let this happen." Anyone wishing to donate should go to wiltons.org.uk.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


June 22 2010

Pleasure's Progress | Dance review

Jerwood Dance House, Ipswich

Hogarth famously occupies a place in the British dance canon though Ninette de Valois's 1935 ballet The Rake's Progress. But what former Royal Ballet dancer and choreographer Will Tuckett takes from the great man's satire is more like choreographed opera: a rude, ebullient and touching fusion of movement, text and song.

Pleasure's Progress comes vividly steeped in English wit and history, and, like much of Tuckett's best work, appears to have been created on a shoestring, its action conjured out of a few props and scraggy corsets. The conceit of the show is that it's being performed by inmates of Bedlam, who, under Hogarth's own direction, perform stories from his cartoons. Moll Hackabout, Viscountess Squanderfield and Tom Rakewell are among the shaven-headed, pox-ridden derelicts clamouring to tell of their fall "to the gutter and the gaol". Tuckett plays brilliantly to the strengths of his performers – alternately foregrounding singing and dance – but his cast are all multitalented. Matthew Hart's Rake is both funny and affecting, a big, exuberant adult-child puffed up with the naughtiness of his sins and bewildered by his punishment.

Paul Englishby's music and Alisdair Middleton's libretto create a delicious fusion of 18th- and 21st-century voices. Very occasionally, the work sags under the weight of its complicated structure, but it has moments of genius. The bawdy is exemplary in its mix of filth and elegance: a love duet invoking the pastoral delights of Squanderfield's "lady garden" blossoms with rococo innuendo. But you never stop hearing the stark, timeless note of Hogarth's satire. As the characters wreck their lives through gin, whoring and cards, Pleasure's Progress feels like a contemporary morality tale on the British compulsion to get wasted.

Rating: 4/5


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl