Artspeople: Lloyd Webber fanfare produces play on words

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The Independent Culture
Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber rewrote theatrical history this week when he announced that his revived musical Jesus Christ Superstar will reopen the Lyceum Theatre in London and that the Lyceum "celebrates its return to live theatre production after a 56-year absence".

Not quite, actually. As I recall, the Lyceum put on the National Theatre's Mystery Plays a mere decade ago. The publicity officer for Superstar is one Peter Thompson who also happened to be the publicity officer for the Mystery Plays. "I did point this out to the Really Useful Group," Thompson admits, "but the view was that as the Mystery Plays were promenade performances they didn't count as productions on the stage." There's lateral thinking for you.

David Strassman, the American ventriloquist, has been packing in audiences at the Edinburgh Festival, but has not received the expected nomination for a Perrier Award. "Take away the dummy and what have you got," a Perrier official told the press in Scotland. This has caused some bafflement in the Strassman camp. "That's a bit like saying 'take away the emu and Rod Hull just isn't funny'," his spokeswoman, Sally Homer, says bitterly.

That most private of actors, Alan Rickman, will be stripped of a little of that privacy in the first biography of him, written by theatre critic Maureen Paton and published in October. It will claim that Rickman has carefully shielded his working class background from the media. He was a scholarship boy from a west London council estate and went to Latymer school where he was taught by Colin Turner who also nurtured Hugh Grant and Mel Smith. Rather unromantically the book also reveals that Rickman's sensual drawl is in fact caused by a speech defect. Who wouldn't kill for such a defect?

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