THE second BT Biennial in association with the Little Theatre Guild kicks off on Saturday in the shape of 60 simultaneous productions by amateur theatres around the country of Peter Whelan's specially commissioned play Shakespeare Country. Audiences who attend one of the productions are therefore assured of taking part in the biggest first night of the year.
THEATRES are already stocking up on shiny new shows for Christmas. Jane Horrocks and Alan Cumming take the roles of Sally Bowles and the MC in Kander and Ebb's Cabaret at the Donmar Warehouse from 2 Dec. Fresh from introducing David Essex to Oliver Goldsmith in She Stoops to Conquer, Sir Peter Hall pairs Elaine Paige with Pam Gems in a production of the author's Piaf, reopening the Piccadilly on 8 Dec; Sir Peter also brings Felicity Kendall and Griff Rhys Jones to the Globe in Feydeau's Le Dindon, daringly translated as An Absolute Turkey. Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders yomp into the Strand Theatre on 15 Dec in Mary Agnes Donohue's comedy Me and Mamie O'Rourke.
December will herald a few closures as well, but the most surprising announced so far happens on 15 Jan, when Jason Donovan hangs up his Dreamcoat as Joseph. This makes it the shortest run of a Lloyd Webber show in recent history: the word 'failure' was touted when Aspects of Love closed after several years. Teenyboppers should not despair: Phillip Schofield begins a national tour in the psychedelic dressing gown in December.