News Actress Emily Rossum enjoyed the free healthcare she got in the UK

'I would get hurt just to get that for free,' says impressed host

Musical postponed

The theatre impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh yesterday announced the postponement of his latest West End musical, Martin Guerre, writes John McKie.

THE NEW YEAR HONOURS: Musicals top the bill

ARTS

The lullaby of Broadway has become a battle-cry, as a bitter dispute between big-time producers and all-powerful unions threatens to kill off America's wounded theatre capital. Daniel Jeffreys reports from New York

It's 7pm on a Thursday night at the corner of Broadway and 45th Street. The streets are moderately crowded but they should be packed. There are eight theatres in immediate view and four are dark. A party of six scuttles from a tourist hotel. They head for the Minskoff Theatre where Sunset Boulevard will convey the comfort of acclaimed success. Middle-aged and well-off, they seem ill at ease with big city traffic. That's because they are not New Yorkers. In the last year, three out of four Broadway tickets were purchased by people who live outside the city. Broadway has become little more than a tourist attraction, a land of big musicals. Broadway playhouses are shuttered while playwrights take their work to warehouses in obscure parts of town.

LETTERS : Stand up the real detective

IN YOUR article on the US historian Natalie Davis ("Tricks of history", Sunday Review, 5 February), her book The Return of Martin Guerre is described as "a virtuoso performance, a dazzling display of historical detective work and storytelling". I fail to understand why no credit has been given to an earlier American writer, Janet Lewis, who wrote three novels based on the circumstantial evidence of trials in 16th, 17th and 18th century Europe. Her nouvelle, The Wife of Martin Guerre, was published in 1941. In view of the historical and legal detail in Janet Lewis's work, the amount of "detective work" and indeed "story telling" required of Davis would have been minimal.

ARTS / And what's more . . .

Audiences at Sunday's preview screening were roaring at the funniest film since, well, Young Frankenstein. The scene from Kenneth Branagh's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein that caused the most screams was where favourite Branagh actor Richard Briers as the blind woodsman sympathises with the creature. 'It can't be that bad,' he says. 'Worse,' comes the inevitable reply. Shame it was supposed to be taken seriously . . . Sunset Boulevard has not swept the board at the nominations for the Ovations awards in LA.

Right of Reply: The people's tale

James Tillitt, the producer of Michael Bogdanov's adaptation of The Canterbury Tales, dismisses charges that it's nothing but schoolboy smut:

Little Sparrow silenced as Paige quits show

The pounds 5m West End musical Piaf is to close after just six months because its star Elaine Paige has quit on doctor's orders.

Musical to close

The revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, which opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London last September, is to end its run on 28 May after making a loss.

Correction: Mr Cameron Mackintosh

ON 1 February we published a feature letter by Humphrey Carpenter headed 'Dear Cameron Mackintosh'. This letter attacked Mr Mackintosh personally for his perceived role in refusing a licence for a school production of 'Oliver]'

'Oliver' pupils win stage rights

THE WEST END theatre impresario Cameron Mackintosh has backtracked on his ban on school productions of the musical Oliver, after a report in the Independent highlighted the disappointment this had caused hundreds of schoolchildren.

Obituary: Roy Budd

Roy Budd, pianist and composer, died London 7 August, aged 46. Wrote over 50 film themes, and scores for Wild Geese and Who Dares Wins. Performed and conducted jazz as well as classical music; his last work was a symphonic score for The Phantom of the Opera to be premiered next month.

FILM / Returned with interest: Adam Mars-Jones reviews Sommersby, the superior American remake of The Return of Martin Guerre

THE AMERICAN practice of remaking European film successes, usually with inappropriate stars and a coarsened texture - which has brought us such joys as Pardon Mon Affaire and Three Men and a Baby, not to mention the impending Vanishing and, if it ever happens, Jane Fonda in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - is generally so pernicious that it is almost a painful duty to announce that Sommersby improves on its original. Daniel Vigne's The Return of Martin Guerre was over-praised, admittedly - for a story of love and death it was all rather flat, and groups of peasants had a tendency to burst into ribald laughter for no better reason than that this was rural France in the 16th century - but its central theme was unusual enough to persuade many viewers they were watching a profound meditation on human identity.

THEATRE / Every man kills the thing he loves: Paul Taylor finds Nicholas Hytner's production of Carousel at the National Theatre smothered by love

The publicity build-up for the Second Coming is likely, you'd have thought, to be a more low-key affair than the propaganda blitz that has heralded the National Theatre's revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, Carousel. In article upon article, every conceivable aspect of Nicholas Hytner's production has been talked up a treat. Indeed, you opened the Angler's Weekly fully expecting to find a clam interviewed about the clambake scene and its pioneering role in establishing positive images of the clam community on Broadway. The key question now is: does the production live up to all this heightened expectation?
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