Andrew Lloyd Webber is revamping his Cinderella musical after the production was savaged by the new ‘Butcher of Broadway’, New York Post theatre critic Johnny Oleksinski.
Critics here gave Cinderella mostly 4-5 star reviews; though not all were raves. But Lloyd Webber was so incensed by what ran in the Post — Oleksinski called it ‘joyless’ and said 30 minutes needed to be cut for it to have any chance of transferring to NY — that he took it out on the cast, berating them down the phone from his Mallorca holiday home.
The call was broadcast over loudspeakers while the actors were sitting on stage, preparing to perform at the Gillian Lynne Theatre last Friday evening.
Andrew Lloyd Webber is revamping his Cinderella musical after the production was savaged by the new ‘Butcher of Broadway’, New York Post theatre critic Johnny Oleksinski
The ‘new’ version will be unveiled on November 22 at a gala charity performance to raise money for the Malala Fund, the charity named for Malala Yousafzai, which works to empower women and girls
A few were said to have been in tears and some were so outraged that there was a vote after Friday night’s show for strike action. However, this was said to have been done in the heat of the moment, and while there has been no further talk of striking, the cast has considered asking for an apology.
Oleksinski may have found plenty to fault with the show — but not the acting. He praised the cast and the ‘heart-racing ballads’. But he gave director Laurence Connor a drubbing (his production of Joseph is fun, though). And he dismissed Gabriela Tylesova’s set designs as ‘drab and forgettable’.
He wasn’t crazy about the book by Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell, either.
Though few were prepared to put their head above the parapet in a ‘difficult situation’, one agent with a client in the show said: ‘Andrew was clearly upset by the NY Post but he shouldn’t have slagged off performers like that when it was the production that had come under fire.’
He wasn’t crazy about the book by Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell (pictured), either
But another praised the composer for stepping up and ‘giving people work’ during a troubled time.
Re-rehearsals involving the full creative team and cast, to incorporate ‘adjustments’, will begin on Monday. The ‘new’ version will be unveiled on November 22 at a gala charity performance to raise money for the Malala Fund, the charity named for Malala Yousafzai, which works to empower women and girls.
A source close to Lord and Lady Lloyd-Webber told me last night that the story was ‘all nonsense’. A statement from the production said: ‘Andrew is really proud of Cinderella and its entire cast and crew. He is absolutely passionate about each and every performance. And the audience reaction continues to be terrific.’
Haunted by Ann’s role as a mum in torment
Ann Dowd arrives just in time for tea and we ‘reluctantly’ agree to share a bottle of Laurent-Perrier, even though I confess that I’ve been a boring, good boy recently; rarely touching a drop of booze.
‘Have you?’ she says, aghast, adding: ‘I haven’t. Full disclosure!’ Her natural warmth reminds me of her performance in a film called Mass, which I’m haunted by. I saw it for a third time at the London Film Festival recently.
The script, by Fran Kranz (who also directs) is beautifully written. Dowd describes it as ‘this story about four people going through the unimaginable’. A teenager has died in a high school shooting. Dowd plays the shooter’s mother, Linda; her face a mask of grief and loss.
Dowd (right), who has won awards for her cattle-prod wielding enforcer Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale, has been acting since she switched career paths — she was studying to become a doctor — when she was 18
Fellow castmates — Reed Birney as her husband Richard; Martha Plimpton and Jason Isaacs as the parents of the dead boy — met to read through the script, then scattered for a few weeks before regrouping to spend three weeks filming in a church in Idaho. Dowd, 65, has three children. Raising them has not always been easy; but, as she points out, ‘the great gift for actors is that at the end of the day, we don’t go home with the consequences’. She adds, softly: ‘My children are alive, thank God.’
Dowd, who has won awards for her cattle-prod wielding enforcer Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale, has been acting since she switched career paths — she was studying to become a doctor — when she was 18. I’ve been watching her on stage and screen for years, but Linda is her best role.
- The picture will be shown in cinemas and on Sky Cinema early in 2022.
Kristen as a Bond baddie?
Kristen Stewart, a contender this award season for her portrait of Princess Diana in Spencer, which opens in cinemas today, told me she’d love to be shaken and stirred as a Bond Girl. By the way, Stewart used the ‘girl’ word herself, gender police. ‘I would do a Bond movie, oh yeah!’ she cried. Actually, she wouldn’t say no to being asked to play ‘the Bond girl who is the bad girl … who is the villain! I could play both parts,’ she said, warming to her theme. ‘I haven’t done a baddie, yet. I do like playing the good guy . . . but maybe I need to cross to the other side.’
Stewart told me she lapped up every one of No Time To Die’s 163 minutes, not least because the film stars her friend Lea Seydoux as 007’s love interest Madeleine Swann.
Kristen Stewart, a contender this award season for her portrait of Princess Diana in Spencer, which opens in cinemas today, told me she’d love to be shaken and stirred as a Bond Girl
The pair were fellow jurors on the Cannes Film Festival’s main jury three years ago. And they worked together on David Cronenberg’s latest film, Crimes Of The Future, along with Cronenberg’s main man Viggo Mortensen. ‘Lea’s one of the coolest people I’ve met,’ said Stewart.
I hope 007 producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, and their casting director supremo Debbie McWilliams, get to read this. Though I suspect they’re busy on hush-hush business to find the next Bond.
I wonder if he’ll even be from these shores?