Exclusive photo session with the stars of Bette & Joan at the Arts Theatre in London
Last week in the Spectator, Lloyd Evans said that the “fascinating and hilarious show” Bette & Joan, the bio-stage play about Hollywood legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, “has the makings of a cult hit”.
That’s certainly what the producer of Bette & Joan, Ann Pinnington, is hoping. Ann told westendtheatre.com this week at an exclusive photo shoot with the two stars of the show, Anita Dobson and Greta Scacchi, that a number of rival productions about the two Hollywood stars are circling London, but that she wanted her production to be the first to land.
So earlier this month, the Arts Theatre got to host the world premiere of Anton Burge’s new play, which tackles the long-running feud between Hollywood rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and is set in the stars’ dressing rooms on the back lot of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, the 1961 cult movie they both starred in.
Both Dobson and Scacchi put in extraordinary performances in the play. Scacchi’s uncanny portrayal of Bette Davis goes much further than an impersonation of the infamously fiery actress, and is a surprisingly intense and emotional performance. Dobson manages to make sense of the complex, contradictory Joan Crawford, and imbues the role with an innate and skilful humour that delights from beginning to end.
Whether Bette & Joan becomes a cult hit is to be seen but Anita Dobson and Greta Scacchi have certainly given the play a damn good start.
Bette & Joan is directed by Bill Alexander and ends its run at the Arts Theatre on 25 June 2011.
Photos exclusively for westendtheatre.com by Roy Tan. Roy Tan said: “When you shoot a two-hander like Bette & Joan, especially a play about two feuding divas, you brace yourself for some diva action of your own! That wasn’t the case here. Anita and Greta are clearly enjoying every minute of appearing together and had great fun on the set of the show at the Arts Theatre during the shoot. Given that I shot them between a matinee and evening performance, they were more than happy to slap on the slap, which is an especially big ask for Greta who has to transform herself during every show into Baby Jane!”
Former Corrie actor Gray O’Brien, who played killer Tony Gordon in the long-running soap, is set to tread the boards in London this summer.
The Coronation Street actor will star in new US comedy Park Avenue Cat by Frank Strausser at the Arts Theatre in London, from 1 July 2011.
O’Brien will co-star with Josefina Gabrielle (Sweet Charity), Tessa Peake-Jones (Only Fools and Horses) and Daniel Weyman (Nicholas Nickleby) in the show, which gets its world premiere at the Arts.
The comedy features a love triangle set over couples therapy, and is directed by Glen Walford and produced by Louise Chantal.
Park Avenue Cat replaces current Arts show Bette & Joan, which runs at the theatre until 25 June 2011.
What’s opening in the West End this week including Dominic West in Butley, David Tennant and Catherine Tate in Much Ado About Nothing and Matthew Kelly and Joanna Riding in Lend Me A Tenor.
NEW SHOWS 30 MAY to 5 JUNE 2011
On Wednesday 1 June Much Ado About Nothing gets its official opening night at the Wyndham’s Theatre. David Tennant and Catherine Tate star as Beatrice and Benedick in this high-profile new production directed by Josie Rourke.
Also on Wednesday, Dominic West (The Wire) returns to the West End as previews start for Simon Gray’s savage, witty and remarkable play Butley at the Duchess Theatre, directed by Lindsay Posner and also starring Paul McGann.
Also starting previews this week is Lend Me A Tenor on Thursday 2 June at the Gielgud Theatre in London. Ian Talbot directs this fun new musical comedy by Peter Sham and Brad Carroll, based on the Broadway classic and starring Matthew Kelly and Joanna Riding.
OPENING NEXT WEEK
The Royal Court’s revival of Arnold Wesker’s Chicken Soup With Barley opens, starring Samantha Spiro and directed by Dominic Cooke (Press night 7 June).
The Donmar Warehouse production of Schiller’s Luise Miller directed by Michael Grandage and starring Alex Kingston, Felicity Jones, Finty Williams, Max Bennett and David Dawson (Previews from 8 June).
Friday 10 June marks the centenary of British playwright Terence Rattigan and on the following day, Saturday 11 June, two of his classic plays, Cause Celebre at the Old Vic and Flare Path at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, both close in the West End.
Finally, Sunday 12 June sees this year’s Tony Awards announced. A big, glitzy ceremony is planned with Danielle Radcliffe, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vanessa Redgrave handing out gongs and the Royal Court’s Jerusalem and National Theatre’s War Horse in line for multiple awards.
AND OPENING LATER IN JUNE
The Flying Karamazov Brothers come crashing into the Vaudeville Theatre with much kilt wearing, flame throwing and general madcap hysteria (from 9 June); Shrek The Musical has its press night at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane starring Amanda Holden and Nigel Lindsay (14 June); Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead starring featuring Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker at the Theatre Royal Haymarket (from 16 June); Kristin Soctt Thomas leads the cast in previews of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal at the Comedy Theatre, in a new production directed by Ian Rickson, also starring Douglas Henshall and Ben Miles (Press night 16 June); The Royal Ballet’s sumptuous and large-scale production of Romeo and Juliet comes to the O2 Arena (from 17 June); Kevin Spacey as Richard III in Sam Mendes’s new production of Shakespeare’s play at the Old Vic (from 18 June); The Railway Children comes steaming back into the Waterlook Station Theatre for a summer run (from 19 June); and a big-budget new movie-to-stage musical comes to town as Ghost The Musical opens at the Piccadilly Theatre starring Caissie Levy, Richard Fleeshman and Sharon D Clarke, with music by Dave Stewart (from 22 June).
Also don’t forget that West End Live – the West End’s free weekend festival – comes to Trafalgar Square for the first time this year on 18 and 19 June, promising star turns from many of the West End’s biggest shows.
Gwilym Lee (for his performance as Edgar in the Donmar Warehouse’s production of King Lear).
Zawe Ashton (for Salome, Headlong Theatre)
Vanessa Kirby (for Women Beware Women, National Theatre; As You Like It, West Yorkshire Playhouse; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Octagon Theatre)
Pippa Bennett Warner (for King Lear, Donmar Warehouse)
Natalie Dormer (for Sweet Nothings, Young Vic)
Susannah Fielding (for An Enemy of the People, Crucible Theatre)
Melody Grove (for The Important of Being Earnest, Royal Lyceum Theatre)
Cush Jumbo (for Pygmalion, Royal Exchange Theatre)
Ferdinand Kingsley (for Hamlet, National Theatre)
James McArdle (for Macbeth, Shakespeare’s Globe; A Month in the Country, Chichester Festival Theatre)
Jessica Raine (for Ghosts, West End)
Catrin Stewart (for The Lady from the Sea, Royal Exchange Theatre)
Joseph Timms (for Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, Shakespeare’s Globe)
Charity Wakefield (for The Rivals, Southwark Playhouse)
Ashley Zhangazha (for King Lear, Donmar Warehouse)
Ian Rickson’s new production of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal has started previewing at the Comedy Theatre in London.
Written by Harold Pinter in 1978, the world premiere of Betrayal took place at the National Theatre, directed by Peter Hall with a cast comprising Daniel Massey, Michael Gambon and Penelope Wilton and went on to win the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. In 1983 David Jones directed the Academy Award and BAFTA nominated film of Betrayal with Patricia Hodge, Jeremy Irons and Ben Kingsley.
Photos by Michael Birt.
Tim Curry has withdrawn from the Chichester production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead due to ill-health.
Curry was to have featured as The Player in the Trevor Nunn-helmed show, which will run in Chichester until 11 June and then transfer to the Theatre Royal Haymarket in the West End from 16 June 2011.
In a statement Executive Director at Chichester Alan Finch said: “It is with great regret that we confirm that Tim Curry will be unable to complete the run of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead due to ill-health, following an on-going chest infection and repeated asthma attacks. We know that our audiences will be disappointed not to see him in this role, however Tim’s well-being is a priority and we wish him the very best for a speedy recovery. For the moment the production will continue with the role of the Player taken by Curry’s understudy, Chris Andrew Mellon, while we consider our longer-term options.”
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead is written by Tom Stoppard, directed by Trevor Nunn and features Samuel Barnett and Jamie Parker in the title roles.
A round-up of reviews of Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London
Acclaimed director Jeremy Herrin makes his directorial debut at the Globe with Shakespeare’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. Olivier award-winning actress Eve Best and Charles Edwards take on Shakespeare’s sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick, with Joseph Marcell as Leonato.
SHREK THE MUSICAL’S GOT TALENT! CAST TO PERFORM LIVE ON ITV’S BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT
You better believe it, on Tuesday May 31 the cast of SHREK THE MUSICAL®, including Amanda Holden as Princess Fiona, will perform live on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent.
In a Britain’s Got Talent first, judge Amanda Holden will swap the safety of the judging panel for the stage, joining her SHREK THE MUSICAL® co-stars for a live performance of classic hit, I’m a Believer.
Amanda said: “I think one of the most important things when you‘re on a show like Britain’s Got Talent and judging other people, is to be willing to stand on the stage and put your own self up for judgment. Next Tuesday, the audience along with my TV colleagues Simon, Michael and the Hoff will be sitting in judgment of me. I‘m just praying they don‘t use their buzzers!”
SHREK THE MUSICAL® is currently previewing at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and officially opens on June 14, 2011. A Royal Gala performance of SHREK THE MUSICAL® will be held June 8, 2011 in aid of The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts.
Produced by DreamWorks Theatricals and Neal Street Productions, SHREK THE MUSICAL® is based on the story and characters from William Steig’s book Shrek! and the Oscar®-winning original DreamWorks Animation feature film Shrek, the first chapter in the series of irreverent fairy tales.
Tickets for the new stage musical are on sale for performances until February 19, 2012.
Owing to the live performance on Britain’s Got Talent, the 7.30pm performance of SHREK THE MUSICAL® on Monday June 6 will be cancelled.
Release issued by: The Corner Shop
Tim Rice, Lee Menzies for Eternity Productions present From Here To Eternity, a brand new musical theatre version of James Jones’ classic 1951 novel
- Stuart Brayson, Tim Rice and Bill Oakes collaborate on music lyrics and book
- Tamara Harvey directs
Today producers Tim Rice and Lee Menzies announced plans to stage a new musical theatre version of the classic FROM HERE TO ETERNITY for 2012.
The production was inspired by the music and lyrics of young writer/composer Stuart Brayson, to which the talents of Bill Oakes (book) and Tim Rice (additional lyrics) have been added. It tells an extraordinary story of passion and honour, which takes place on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, in 1941, shortly before and during the Pearl Harbour attack of 7 December.
The production will be directed by Tamara Harvey. Tamara is currently an Associate Director at the Bush Theatre. Her recent work includes the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Smash, the touring production of Tell Me On A Sunday, Dancing at Lughnasa at Birmingham Rep Theatre, Plague Over England at the Duchess Theatre, Bash at the Trafalgar Studios and The Contingency Plan and tHe dYsFUnCKshOnalZ! at the Bush.
Published in 1951, From Here To Eternity was James Jones’ début novel. It won him the National Book Award for fiction in 1952. It is loosely based on Jones’s experiences in the pre-World War II Hawaiian Division’s 27th Infantry and the unit in which he served. The 1953 film and subsequent TV mini-series were adapted from the novel. It has recently been announced that the novel will be re-released with previously unpublished material included.
In 1953 the novel was adapted into a film directed by Fred Zinnemann and produced by Buddy Adler, starring Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Montgomery Clift, Ernest Borgnine, Deborah Kerr and Donna Reed. The film won 8 Academy Awards out of 13 nominations.
Release issued by: The Corner Shop
The Royal Ballet will dance a unique and thrilling production of Romeo and Juliet at The O2 arena next month, performing on 17, 18 and 19 June 2011.
It will mark the first time that the world-renowned Royal Ballet company has danced in a UK arena and the evening promises to be truly spectacular event.
An all star cast of Royal Ballet dancers includes Carlos Acosta, Tamara Rojo, Alina Cojocaru, Johan Kobborg, Edward Watson and Mara Galeazzi (casting subject to change). The evening will also feature the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the Royal Ballet Music Director, Barry Wordsworth.
The Royal Ballet, usually based at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden, will move lock, stock and barrel into the arena for these special performances. Bringing you even closer to the action, the performances will feature a filmed introduction to each Act, on giant, live-relay screens, as well as the virtuoso performances from one of finest ballet companies in the world.
Dates and Cast Information:
Friday 17 June 2011, 7.30pm: Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta
Saturday 18 June 2011, 2.00pm: Mara Galeazzi and Edward Watson
Saturday 18 June 2011, 7.30pm: Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg
Sunday 19 June 2011, 3.00pm: Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta