HELLO DOLLY (2nd Revival) London run: Prince of Wales Theatre, January 3rd (134 Performances) Music & Lyrics: Jerry Herman Book: Michael Stewart Director: Peter Coe Cast: Danny la Rue (Dolly Levi), Lionel Jeffries (Horace Vandergelder), Lorna Dallas (Irene Molloy), Michael Sadler (Cornelius Hackl),
Since Danny la Rue played it “straight”, without any of his traditional ad-libs, this was a bizarre experience. He was a convincing, but not very good, Dolly in a production that seemed to have been done on the cheap. “… poor provincial rep rather than glittering with West End star charisma”. Notes: See Original London Production: Drury Lane, December 1965. And First revival: Drury Lane September 1979 Danny la Rue as Dolly Levi
THE MIKADO (Revival) London run: Old Vic, February 29th (45 Performances) Music: Arthur Sullivan Book & Lyrics: W.S. Gilbert Director: Brian Macdonald Musical Director: Berthold Carriere Producer: Stratford Festival Canada Cast: Eric Donkin (Ko-Ko), Avo Kittask (Mikado), John Keane (Nanki Poo), Richard McMillan (Pooh-Bah), Marie Barron (Yum Yum), Christina James (Katisha), Karen Wood, Karen Skidmore Notes: This was a production by a visiting Canadian company but competed with simultaneous G&S productions at Sadler’s Wells and the Coliseum. The critics were generally scathing of this visitor.
Photo by Photostage
London run: Apollo Victoria, March 27th (7,461 Performances)
STARLIGHT EXPRESS London run: Apollo Victoria, March 27th (7,461 Performances) Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber Lyrics: Richard Stilgoe Book: Andrew Lloyd Webber Director: Trevor Nunn Choreographer: Arlene Phillips Musical Director: David Caddick Producer: Really Useful Theatre Co
Cast: Jeff Shankley (Greaseball), Chrissy Wickham (Ashley), Nancy Wood (Buffy), Frances Ruffelle (Dina), Stephanie Lawrence (Pearl), Michael Staniforth (C.B.), Lon Satton (Poppa), Jeffrey Daniel (Electra), Ray Shell (Rusty) Songs: Rolling Stock, Call Me Rusty, A Lotta Locomotion, Pumping Iron, AC/ DC, He Whistled At Me, Belle, Uncoupled, One Rock’n’Roll Too Many, Only You, Light at the End of the Tunnel Story: The story follows a child's dream in which his toy train set comes to life, and the ensemble play railway engines, coaches, trucks, etc, in a race to become the fastest engine on the American railroad, and not without a good deal of romantic coupling. Notes: The performers were required to race around the theatre on roller-skates. They underwent several months of skating training to be able to take part and the theatre itself had to undergo major alterations to accommodate racing tracks running through the auditorium, up to the circle, then back down through the stalls. The show went on to become one of the major hits of all time, with world-wide productions.
PEG London run: Phoenix Theatre, April 12th (146 Performances) Music & Lyrics: David Heneker Book: Robin Miller & Ronald Millar Director: Ian Judge Choreographer: Sheila Falconer Musical Director: Kevin Amos Producer: Louis Busch Hager
Cast: Sian Phillips (Mrs Chichester), Edward Duke (Alaric Chichester), Patricia Michael (Ethel Chichester), Martin Smith (Sir Gerald Adair), Ann Morrison (Peg O’Connell),), Julia Sutton (Bennett), Liza Sadovy (Dora), Kim Smith , David McAlister, John Hewer. Songs: Flat Broke, Pretty Dresses, When a Woman Has to Choose, Come Away With Me, Manhattan Hometown (Interpolated- Peg O’ My Heart ) Story: The Chichester family, Mother, Alaric and Ethel are broke, but hope to inherit a substantial sum from a relative’s will. They are shocked to find the money is left to Peg O’Connell, a young niece from New York, who is considered to be rather “common” and loud. However, Mrs Chichester will receive £1000 a year if she acts as governess and chaperone. Peg and her dog Mickey arrive – unaware of the financial set-up. Peg finds the family a bit too starchy and formal, and gets on better with Dora, the housemaid, and Bennett, the parlour-maid. She also becomes very friendly with the ordinary man she knows as “Jerry” (not knowing he is Sir Gerald, the family solicitor.) Mrs Chichester wants Alaric to marry Peg (for the money) , but Peg turns him down in a kindly way – she has fallen in love with “Jerry” – but Jerry tells her the truth about her inheritance and says his pride will not let him marry her – the interest on her money will earn more in one year than he will in five. Peg announces she never liked money anyway, and will give it to the servants and to the Chichesters so they can all live happily ever after. Everyone raises a toast to “Peg O’ My Heart” and to a happy and peaceful New Year – 1914. Notes: Based on the play “Peg O’ My Heart” by J. Hartley Manners, it was felt to be sugary sentiment and totally unbelievable. Critical reaction of the show was almost universally damning: “If the show had never opened a large number of people would have been spared the misery of having to work on it, and a small number of people would have been spared the misery of having to sit through it.”
WEST SIDE STORY (3rd Revival) London run: Her Majesty’s Theatre, May 16th (17 months) Music: Leonard Bernstein Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Book: Arthur Laurents Director-Choreographer: Tom Abbott Musical Director: Grant Hossack Producer: Richard Pilbrow
Photo by Leicester Haymarket
Cast: Steven Pacey (Tony), Jan Hartley (Maria), Richard Pettyfer (Riff), Michael Gyngell (Diesel), Sam Williams (Bernardo), Lee Robinson (Anita) This production had originated at Leicester Haymarket and opened in December 1983. It had been on a UK tour which culminated in a West End season from May 1984 to October 1985. Later cast changes saw Peter Bruce and Karyn O’Neill take over the leads. Notes: Original London production, Her Majesty’s, Dec 1958 First revival: Collegiate Theatre, July 1973 Second revival: Shaftesbury Theatre, December 1974
Steven Pacey & Jan Hartley
THE IMPORTANCE London run: Ambassadors’ Theatre, May 31st (29 Performances) Music & Lyrics: John Hugh Dean (Sean O’Mahoney) Director: Tony Craven Choreographer: Sheila O’Neill Musical Director: Bryan Bennett Producer: Theatre of Comedy & J.S.Parker
Cast: Patrick Ryecart (Jack Worthing), David Firth (Algernon), Judy Campbell (Lady Bracknell), Ruth Mayo (Gwendolen), Karen Lancaster (Cecily), Sheila Bernette (Miss Prism), Robert Dorning (Dr Chasuble) Songs: Bunburying, I Must Write This Down Before I Forget, Sincerely Yours, I Am Never Wrong Notes: Oscar Wilde’s “Importance of Being Earnest”, had previously been adapted into a musical on several occasions, but never with any real success. This 1984 version by Sean O’Mahoney was the only one to date to reach the West End , though it only managed a very short run. Earlier attempts included “Found in a Handbag” (1957), with music by Allon Bacon, staged at Margate and “Half in Ernest” (1958), with music by Vivian Ellis which ended its pre-West End tour out of town (although it did get a later production in the USA). Other attempts included “Ernest in Time, or My Dark Gentleman” (1958) with music by John de Gray, staged at Canterbury, and “Ernest” (1959) with music by Malcolm Sircom, staged at Farnham. It was said the play is so perfect that the songs seemed like intrusions into the familiar and much-loved dialogue.
1984 ON YOUR TOES (Revival)
London run: Palace Theatre, June 12th (539 Performances) Music: Richard Rodgers Lyrics: Lorenz Hart Book: Rodgers & Hart & George Abbott Director: George Abbot, recreated by Peter Walker Choreographer: George Balanchine, recreated by Donald Saddler Musical Director: Timothy Higgs Producer: Michael White & Really Useful Co
Cast: Natalia Markarova (Vera Baronova), Tim Flavin (Junior ), Siobhan McCarthy (Frankie), Kevin Owers (Sidney Cohn), Honor Blackman (Peggy Porterfield), John Bennett (Sergei ) Nicholas Johnson (Konstantine Morrosine), Doreen Hermitage, Bunny May, Petra Siniawski
Songs: It’s Got to Be Love, There’s a Small Hotel, Too Good for the Average Man, Glad to Be Unhappy, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue Story: Junior Dolan has given up his vaudeville touring career and become a music teacher at the Knickerbocker University. His students include his girlfriend, Frankie, and Sidney Cohn, who has written a jazz ballet. Arts patron Peggy Porterfield decides to finance a production of this ballet, and uses her financial muscle to persuade Sergei Alexandrovitch, impresario of the visiting Russian Ballet to stage this work, now entitled “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue”. Junior becomes involved both onstage and off with the prima ballerina, Vera Baronova. This causes trouble with Junior’s girlfriend, Frankie, and Vera’s regular partner, Morrosine, who tries to have Junior bumped off. However, all ends happily, with the couples back with their rightful partners. Notes: The original Broadway production (1936) and the London production (February 5th 1937 at the Coliseum) were both directed by George Abbott. The show was revived on Broadway in 1983 with Natalia Makarova - again directed by George Abbott - and once more he came to London to supervise this production. Not only was it some kind of record to be reviving his own work after a 47 year gap, but at the time of this show he was an astonishing 97 years old—and definitely the oldest working director in musical theatre. (He died in 1995, a few months before his 108th birthday.)
LITTLE ME (1st Revival) London run: Prince of Wales Theatre, May 30th (334 Performances) Music: Cy Coleman Lyrics: Carolyn Leigh Book: Neil Simon Director: Val May Choreographer: Bob Fosse – recreated by John Sharpe Producer: Bernard Delfont
Cast: Russ Abbot, Eileen Gourlay (Young Belle), Sheila White (Older Belle), Tudor Davies See Original London production: Cambridge Theatre, November 1964 Russ Abbott in two of the many disguises.
42nd STREET London run: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane August 8th (1,823 Performances) Music: Harry Warren Lyrics: Al Dubin Book: Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble Director: Gower Champion recreated byLucia Victor Choreographer: Gower Champion recreated by Karin Baker & Randy Skinner Musical Director: Kevin Amos Producer: David Merrick with Helen Montagu
Cast: Clare Leach (Peggy Sawyer), Georgis Brown (Dorothy Brock), James Laurenson (Julian Marsh), Michael Howe (Billy Lawlor), Margaret Courtenay (Maggie Jones), Hugh Futcher, Catherine Terry Songs: Young and Healthy, Shadow Waltz, You’re Getting to be a Habit With Me, Dames, We’re in the Money, Lullaby of Broadway About a Quarter to Nine, Shuffle Off to Buffalo
Photo by Photoshop
Story: Stage-struck chorus girl, Peggy Sawyer, from Allentown, Pennsylvania, gets her big chance when the star, Dorothy Brock, breaks her ankle during the show’s tryouts. The frantic producer, Julian Marsh, pushes Peggy onto the stage with the line “You’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star” Notes: Based on the 1933 Warner Brothers film, the score was supplemented with additional songs from the catalogue of Warren and Dubin. It ran for ten years on Broadway. During its London run James Laurenson was replaced with Frankie Vaughan.
THE BOY FRIEND (2nd Revival) London run: Old Vic , July 18th (32 performances) Transferred to Albery Theatre, September 20th (156 performances) Music & Lyrics : Sandy Wilson Director: Sandy Wilson & Christopher Hewitt Choreographer: Dan Siretta Musical Director: Ray Cook/Charles Miller/Martin Koch Producer: Cameron Mackintosh
This was a 30th Anniversary revival production, and had opened at Bromley and then played a season at the Royal Alexandra Theatre,Toronto, and Manchester before coming to the Old Vic. Mme Dubonnet was originally played by Glynis Johns, but she was replaced before the show came to London. Notes: See Original London production, Wyndham’s, January 1954 First revival: Comedy Theatre, November 1967
Photo by Michael Le Poet Trench
Cast: Rosemary Ashe (Hortense), Christine McKenna (Polly Browne), Simon Green (Tony), Bob Newent (Bobby van Husen), Linda-Mae Brewer (Maisie), Anna Quayle (Mme Dubonnet)
PUMP BOYS & DINETTES London run: Piccadilly Theatre, September 25th (302 Performances) Transferred to Albery Theatre June 11th 1985 (95 Performances) Music & Lyrics: Jim Wann, Cass Morgan, Debra Monk, John Foley, John Schimmel & Mark Hardwick Director: David Taylor
Photo by Press Association
Cast: Paul Jones (Jim), Brian Protheroe (L.M.) , Gary Holton (Eddie), Julian Littman (Jackson), Kiki Dee (Rhetta), Carlene Carter (Prudie) Songs: Highway 57, Serve Yourself, Fisherman’s Prayer, Be Good or Be Gone, Mona, Tips, Vacation, Closing Time
Paul Jones & Kiki Dee
Story: On Highway 57 in North Carolina, somewhere between Frog Level and Smyrna, stands a gas station. Across the way is a roadside eatery called the “Double Cupp Diner”. The four guys at the station – Jim, Jackson, Eddie and L.M. – have been known to do some auto repairs, but only when aided by lots of time and beers. The Cupp Sisters, Prudie and Rhetta, celebrate their home cooking with the same zeal they bring to being neighbourly with the boys.
Notes: The show ran on Broadway for 15 months, winning many awards and a Tony Nomination. The West End production took over from the financially disastrous “Y” at the Piccadilly, but was still presented as an “after-dinner” attraction with the stalls used for pre-show dining. It was performed in a more conventional setting when it transferred to the Albery. Cast changes during its run included Joe Brown, Clodagh Rodgers, Peter Duncan, Lyndsey de Paul, Jeremy Clyde and Chad Stuart.
BLOCKHEADS London run: Mermaid Theatre, October 17th (22 performances) Music: Alexander Peskanov Lyrics: Hal Hackady Book: Arthur Whitelaw and Michael Landwehr Director: Arthur Whitelaw Choreographer: Kay Cole
Cast: Mark Hadfield (Stan Laurel), Kenneth H. Waller (Oliver Hardy), Simon Browne, Larry Dann, Susan Denaker, Richard Drabble, Megg Nicol Songs: Have We Still Got It?, Playing the Halls, Star Quality, Is This Where the Rainbow Ends?, Goodbye Mae.
Notes: The supporting cast played several roles each, covering such characters as Stan’s father, Hal Roach the film producer, James Finlayson, Keystone cops, cameramen and fellow actors. Mark Hadfield and Kenneth Waller were praised for their “look-alike” portrayals, but the show was judged empty, shapeless, and pleasantly innocuous. It lasted just two and a half weeks.
Photo by Mermaid Theatre
Story: A musical biography of Laurel and Hardy, with Stan and Ollie backstage in a provincial theatre as part of their 1952 UK tour, and as they reminisce, the action becomes a flashback to Stan’s early music-hall days as a double-act with his common-law wife, Mae Dahlberg, whom he left behind when they ended the partnership and he went to the USA to try and break into films. Ollie reflects on his early days in Minstrel shows.
Kenneth H. Waller & Mark Hadfield
THE HIRED MAN
Producer: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Cast: Paul Clarkson (John), Julia Hills (Emily), Richard Walsh (Jackson), Billy Hartman (Ted Blacklock), Gerard Doyle (Seth), Clare Burt (May) Songs: Song of the Hired Man, Now for the First Time, Work Song, Get Paul Clarkson & Julia Hills Up and Go Lad, Hear Your Voice, You Never See The Sun, What Would You Say to Your Son? No Choir of Angels Story: John Tallentire, a Cumbrian hired journeyman with a love for the land, and his wife, Emily settle in the poor circumstances of their surroundings until Emily’s yearning for a more exciting life leads her into an indiscretion with the dashing young Jackson Pennington. John gives up his beloved land to take her to the city. He exchanges his plough for a miner’s pick and shovel, and the open-air for the darkness of the pit. The war, the death of their son, and then Emily’s death intervene before John can finally return to the land. Notes: Although the work was felt to be a bit “preachy” and political, it was considered worthy, though not likely to be a popular draw.
THE WIZ London run: Lyric Hammersmith, December 8th (8 week Christmas season) Music & Lyrics: Charlie Smalls Book: Frank Baum & William Brown Director: Peter James Choreographer: Stewart Avon Arnold & Claud Paul Henry Cast: Celena Duncan (Dorothy), Elaine Delmar (Aunt Tem/Glinda), Guy Gregory (Uncle Henry), Clarke Peters (Scarecrow), Earlene Benley (Evillene), Debby Bishop (Addaperle), Clem Curtis (Lion), Okon Jones (Tinman), Erick Ray Evans (The Wiz) Songs: The Feeling We Once Had, Tornado, Soon As I Get Home, Ease On Down the Road, Slide Some Oil to Me, Mean Ol’ Lion, What Would I Do If I Could Feel, Don’t Nobody Bring Me No Bad News, Believe in Yourself Photo by Donald Cooper
Story: A black version of “The Wizard of Oz”, with a Wicked Witch (Evillene) on a throne cluttered with pinball and fruit machines, the Wizard who is a fast-talking revivalist who has settled for the simple things in life “like power, prestige and money” and the Munchkins, who are animated fire-hydrants. The Emerald City bears a distinct resemblance to the Big Apple. Earlene Bentley (Centre) as Evillene, The Wicked Witch
Photo by Donald Cooper
London run: Astoria Theatre, October 31st (164 Performances) Music: Howard Goodall Book & Lyrics: Melvyn Bragg Director: David Gilmore Choreographer: Anthony van Laast Musical Director: Kate Young