SAUCY JACK AND THE SPACE VIXENS London run: Queen’s Theatre, March 25th (85 Performances) Music & Lyrics: Robin Forrest & Jonathan Croose Book & Additional lyrics: Charlotte Mann & Michael Fidler Director: Keith Strachan Choreographer: Cristina Avery & Ian Stuart-Ferguson Musical Director: James Compton
Photo by Sheila Burnett
Cast: David Schofield (Saucy Jack), Catherine Porter (Jubilee), Natasha Bain (Anna), Johanna Alitt (Bunny), David Ashley (Booby), Adam Meggido (Dr Whackoff), Hannah Waddingham (Chesty), Daniel Wexler (Sammy), Mark Oxtoby (Mitch) (In the original Hackney version Saucy Jack was played by Joe Young)
Songs: Glitter Boots, Saved My Life, All I Need is Disco, Living in Hell, Plastic Leather and Love, Fetish Number from Nowhere, I’m Just a Tortured Plaything Hannah Waddingham
Story: Set in a future galaxy, Saucy Jack’s bar is the meanest dive on the Planet Frottage, and is a regular haunt for Booby, a transvestite waitress, Chesty Prospects, the barmaid, and a doctor called Willie Whackoff. But, a serial killer is on the loose: one by one the bar’s cabaret performers are found with a sequinned stiletto-heel sling-back rammed through their hearts. Enter the Space Vixens - Jubilee Climax, Anna Labia, and Bunny Lingus – the inter-galactic, crime-fighting babes who zoom in, all glitter boots and zap-guns, to solve the crimes. By the end, Jubilee Climax and Saucy Jack have fallen in love, Chesty and Bunny are having a Lesbian affair, and Whackoff and a character called Mitch are dressed in rubber. Starting at the Edinburgh Festival, followed by a two week London try-out at Hackney Empire in November 1997, this moved into the West End, only to receive universally damning reviews. It managed a ten week run.
OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR! (1st Revival) London run: South Bank Big TopTheatre, April 8th – 25th (Limited season) Repeated: Round House, August 12th – October 4th (Limited season) Music:& Lyrics: Various Book: Charles Chilton & Company Director: Fiona Laird Choreographer: Peter Darling Musical Director: Neil McArthur Producer: Royal National Theatre Mobile Production
Cast: (South Bank) David Arneil, David Birrell, Simon Day, David Grant, Clive Hayward, Richard Henders, Dean Lennox Kelly, Karl Morgan, Jackie Morrison, Elizabeth Renihan, Joanna Riding, Sonia Swaby, Kraig Thornber. Cast: (Round House) David Arneil, Clive Hayward, Richard Henders, Dean Lennox Kelly, Rebecca Lock, Paul J. Medford, Karl Morgan, Jackie Morrison, Dominic McHale, Mark Oxotby, Elizabeth Renihan, Rachel Spry, Kraig Thornber, Nicholas Tigg, Luke Williams . Notes: This was a touring production in a circus-type tent, designed to take the production around the UK especially to places where there was no permanent theatre. It had begun its tour in Milton Keynes. Original London production: Wyndham’s Theatre, June 1963
SHOWBOAT (4th Revival) London run: Prince Edward, April 28th (175 performances) Music: Jerome Kern Lyrics & Book: Oscar Hammerstein II Director: Harold Prince Choreographer: Susan Stroman Musical Director: David Charles Abell Cast: Terry Burrell (Julie), Hugh Panaro (Ravenal), Teri Hansen (Magnolia), Michel Bell (Joe), Gretha Boston (Queenie), George Grizzard (Cap’n Andy), Clare Leach (Ellie) This production, with a cast of 57 and directed by the legendary Hal Prince, had originated in Toronto, then transferred to Broadway, where it was highly praised and heaped with awards. It was hugely spectacular, superbly staged and performed, and felt by many to be one of the finest productions to grace the London stage in many a year. It ran for 21 weeks on a limited term engagement. Notes: Original London production: Drury Lane 1928; First revival: London, 1943 ; 2nd revival: Adelphi, June 1971; 3rd revival: London Palladium, July 1990 (and again, March 1991)
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER London run: London Palladium, May 5th (758 Performances) Music: The Bee Gees (and others) Adaptation: Nan Knighton, Robert Stigwood, Paul Nicholas Director-Choreographer: Arlene Phillips Musical Director: Phil Edwards Producer: Robert Stigwood, Paul Nicholas, David Ian
Cast: Adam Garcia (Tony Monero), Anita Louise Combe (Stephanie), Tara Wilkinson (Annette), Simon Greiff (Bobby C), Richard Calkin (Monty), David Paynton-Bruhl (Fusco), Jonathan Avery (Frank Monero), Susan Fay (Flo Manero), John Stacey (Frank Junior), Lara Costa (Maria), Daryn Crosbie (Cesar) Songs: Stayin’ Alive, More Than a Woman, If I Can’t Have You, It’s My Neighbourhood, You Should Be Dancing, Jive Talkin’, Nights on Broadway, How Deep is Your Love (Non Bee Gee songs: Boogie Shoes, Disco Inferno, Disco Duck, What Kind of Fool, Open Sesame, Salsation)
Photo by Michael Le Poer Trench
Story: Tony Manero is a Brooklyn youth who luxuriates in the admiration of the crowd at the local disco. Here he can forget his dead-end job and his gang of dead-beat friends. In spite of his adoring, homespun girl-friend, Annette, Tony becomes romantically involved with Stephanie, a social-climbing girl who thinks she is too good for him. A sub-plot involves poor Bobby C, a perpetual loser who gets his girlfriend pregnant and brings an element of tragedy to the plot. Tony and Stephanie team up for a major disco competition, facing strong opposition from Maria and Cesar, a rival Puerto Rican pair. Notes: Originally a story by Nik Cohn, it became a smash-hit 1977 Paramount film with a screenplay by Norman Wexler, starring John Travolta. The £4 million stage adaptation was attributed to Nan Knighton “in collaboration with Arlene Phillips, Paul Nicholas and Robert Stigwood”. Many of the film's darker elements, including references to racial conflict, drug use and violence, were eliminated from the plot. It received very mixed reviews, though there was universal praise for Adam Garcia. It ran for 21 months at the Palladium and later undertook several UK tours, and international stagings. Adam Garcia
RENT London run: Shaftesbury Theatre, May 12th (614 Performances) Music, Lyrics & Book: Jonathan Larson Director: Michael Greif Choreographer: Marlies Yearby Musical Director: Dave Adams Cast: Anthony Rapp (Mark Cohen), Adam Pascal (Roger), Krysten Cummings (Mimi), Wilson Jermaine Heredia (Angel), Jess L Martin (Tom), Jessica Tezier (Maureen), Jacqui Dubois (Joanne), Bonny Lockhart, Angela Bradley. Songs: One Song Glory, Light My Candle, I Should Tell You, Tango, Maureen, I’ll Cover You, Over the Moon, Seasons of Love, Without You, Your Eyes, La Vie Bohème Story: Based loosely on Puccini’s opera “La Bohème”, the action is narrated and literally recorded by Mark Cohen, a filmmaker on the rebound from a broken relationship – his girlfriend Maureen has left him for a lesbian relationship with Joanne. The action takes place from one Christmas to the next in the shabbiest of lower Manhattan tenements, and the characters include Roger, an HIV positive songwriter who wants to make a significant contribution before he dies of AIDS; Mimi, a heroin-addict dancer working in an S&M club; Angel, a drag queen and his lover, Tom. They are threatened with eviction from their slum tenement because their landlord, Benny, wants to sell the building to create a cyber-studio. In spite of the many deaths, the extremes of rich and poor, happiness and exploitation, loyalty and betrayal, the overall message is that friends can be alternative family.
Photo by Nobby Clark
Notes: This show had opened with a six-week off-Broadway try-out in February 1996. Sadly its composer, Jonathan Larsen died of a heart attack, aged 35, on the night of its final dress rehearsal. He did not live to see its Broadway premiere in April, followed by rave reviews, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, three Tony and several other awards. The show ran for 5,124 performances. The London production received very mixed notices. . . “saccharine, ghoulish stuff”, “ moments of a yearning, tentative, lyrical love”, “the finale and the musical itself will haunt me beautifully”, “a cracking good show with some terrific songs”, “Being rude about “Rent” is a bit like drowning a cuddly kitten, for the show is so desperately determined to be cute and winning, with every sexual minority slickly catered for”. The London production ran for a year and a half.
SWEET CHARITY (2nd Revival) London run: Victoria Palace, May 19th (103 Performances) Music: Cy Coleman Lyrics: Dorothy Fields Book: Neil Simon Director: Carol Metcalfe Choreographer: Bob Fosse reproduced by Chet Walker Musical Director: Rob Mitchell Producer: Michael Rose
Cast: Bonnie Langford (Charity), Cornell John (Oscar) , Mark Wynter (Vittorio Vidal) Johanne Murdock (Nicky), Jane Fowler (Helene), Omar F. Okai (Brubeck) This production originated at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley. Its West End run was just three months, following very mixed reviews. Notes: See original London production: Prince of Wales, October 1968 First revival: Man in the Moon/BAC November 1993
MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG London run: Prince, SE 10 , May 27th â€“ June 21st Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Book: George Furth Director: Nick Bligh Choreographer: Darren Royston Musical Director: Tim Davies Cast: Marcus Allen Cooper (Franklin Shepard), Marc Joseph (Charles Kringas), Tracy Wiles (Mary Flynn), Barbara Hastings, Suzi Pattison, Johnson Willis, Alison Brooks, Andy Chaplin, Andy Charal, Matthew Lessall, Polly Sands, Michelle Witton Songs: The Hills of Tomorrow, Rich and Happy, Old Friends, Like it Was, Franklin Shepard Inc, Not a Day Goes By, Now You Know, Itâ€™s a Hit, Good Thing Going, Bobbie and Jackie and Jack, Opening Doors, Our Time. Story: Starting in 1976 and told in flashback, this is the story of songwriter Franklin Shepard, lyricist Charles Kringas and their mutual friend, Mary Flynn. The musical begins at the height of his Hollywood fame and moves backwards in time, showing snapshots of the most important moments in Frank's life that shaped the man that he is today. Having once been a talented composer of Broadway musicals, he abandoned his friends and his serious career to become a producer of Hollywood flicks. His pursuit of money and glory over 20 years and the failure of his marriage and betrayal of his friends are all revealed before the end of the show, since the end of the show is actually the beginning, showing how the friends first meet in 1957. Notes: Based on the 1934 play by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, this opened in New York in November 1981 and ran for just 16 performances (after 52 troubled previews). It marked a break in the celebrated run of Hal Prince/Sondheim productions and was heavily criticised for its scenery, its choreography, and its casting. The difficulty here was having the same actors play from middle-age to teen-age, and working backwards, the claim being they were too young at the start of the show and too old at the end. However, its musical score, complex and inventive, was nominated for a Tony Award, and the show would go on to have many revivals and re-writes.
ANIMAL CRACKERS London run: Barbican outdoors, June 19th – July 11th Music & Lyrics: Bert Kalmar & Harry Ruby Additional songs: Chris Jordan Book: George S. Kaufman & Morrie Ryskind Director: Emil Wolk & Gregory Hersov Choreographer: Susan Swanton Musical Director: Chris Jordan Producer: Royal Exchange, Manchester Cast: Ben Keaton (Captain Spaulding “Groucho), Toby Sedgewick (Professor “Harpo”), Joseph Alessi (Ravelli “Chico”), Jean Challis (Mrs Rittenhouse), Sue Holland (Mrs Van Damme), Sarah Redmond, Warren Kimmell, Nicholas Khan, James Smith, Miltos Yerolemou, Gail Ghislaine Sixsmith Songs: (From the Original score): Hooray for Captain Spalding, Hello I Must Be Going, Who’s Been Listening to My Heart, Long Island Low-Down, Go Places and Do Things, Watching the Clouds Roll By, When Things are Bright and Rosy, Cool Off, Four of the Three Musketeers Story: The famous explorer, Captain Geoffrey T. Spaulding, is attending the unveiling of a statue at the mansion of society matron Mrs. Rittenhouse, but a rival society hostess, Mrs Van Damme is anxious to have the Captain attend one of her own parties. Meantime, a valuable painting goes missing, and the Captain is asked to investigate. Notes: This basic plot was nothing more than an excuse for Groucho and the other Marx Brothers to indulge in their crazy farcical routines in between some musical numbers. The original production opened on Broadway in October 1928, and ran for 191 performances. It was filmed in 1930, with most of the songs cut out, and became one of the Marx Brothers’ most enduring hits. The original score contained nine songs. This was a touring production, playing in a circus-type tent which was a temporary home to the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre following its bombing by the IRA. This same production would return to a legitimate theatre – the Lyric – in March 1999, where it would run for 70 performances.
WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND
Photo by Ivan Kyncl
London run: Aldwych, July 1st , (1,044 Performances)
Marcus Lovett as The Man & Lottie Mayor as Swallow
WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND London run: Aldwych, July 1st , (1,044 Performances) Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber Lyrics: Jim Steinman Book: Patricia Knop, Gale Edwards & Andrew Lloyd Webber Director: Gale Edwards Choreographer: Anthony van Laast Musical Director: Christopher Nightingale Producer: Really Useful Theatre Company
Cast: Marcus Lovett (The Man), Lottie Mayor (Swallow), Ashley Andrews/Danielle Calvert (Brat), Dean Clish/Ricki Cuttell (Poor Baby), Dean Collinson (Amos), Veronica Hart (Candy),Christopher Howard (Snake Preacher), John Turner (Sheriff), Reg Eppey (Minister), Nicolas Colicos (Darryl), James Graeme (Boone) Songs: I Never Get What I Pray For, Home By Now, Cold, Unsettled Scores, Tire Tracks and Broken Hearts, Long Overdue for a Miracle, When Children Rule the World, Annie Christmas, No Matter What, Try Not to Be Afraid, A Kiss is a Terrible Thing to Waste, Wrestle With the Devil Story: In a small 1950s Louisiana town, three children – Swallow, Poor Baby, and Brat – discover The Man, an escaped killer, in their barn. They believe he is Jesus come back to earth . They share their secret with other children, including Candy, a young black girl and Amos, a white boy, both of whom are anxious to get away from the prejudices of the town. Meanwhile the adults are hunting down the escaped killer, and arrive at the barn, only to find it surrounded by kids determined to protect him. The Man takes Swallow hostage, but quickly changes his mind, pushes her out and sets fire to the barn. When Swallow finally gets back in, there's no trace of him, but she says "He'll be back...I just know he will." Her father tries to convince her this wasn't Jesus, but she asks "But how do you know?" Notes: Based on the novel by Mary Hayley Bell and the screenplay by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, the show had its premiere in Washington DC in December 1996, but following a critical drubbing, its Broadway opening was postponed and eventually cancelled. After major re-writing, with Gale Edwards and Lloyd Webber collaborating on a revised book, and with the five new songs, it was re-launched at the Aldwych . It received very mixed notices, but ran for 1044 performances, closing in January 2001.
EYAM London run: Bridewell, July 13th – August 1st Music: Andrew Peggie Book & Lyrics: Stephen Clark Director: Clive Paget Choreographer: Mitch Sebastian Musical Director: Andrew Peggie Cast: Peter Prentice (William Mompesson), Seeta Indrani (Katherine Mompesson), Geoff Abbot (Matthew Mortin), Leigh McDonald (Sarah Halksworth)
Halcro Johnston, Paul Baker, Eileen O’Grady, Tal Shamir, Clive Adams
Songs: Dressing the Wells, Moth Song, There’s a Man, Did I Tell a Lie?, Something in the Air, Have You No Pity? Why Should I Stay? Look at that Smile, The Story of the Plague
Story: The new rector, William Mompesson, arrives in the Derbyshire village of Eyam in 1665. He is met with outright hostility when people start dropping like flies, for no one realises that a rat flea in a parcel of cloth from London has introduced them to the Great Plague.) When the rector suggests they close off the village to all outsiders and martyr themselves to the contagion rather than let it spread, this creates a highly dramatic conflict between social class and faith. By the time the plague abates, over a year later, over a quarter of the 800 inhabitants are dead. Notes: This began life at one of the Stephen Sondheim workshops at Oxford University
DOCTOR DOLITTLE London run: Labatt’s Apollo, July 14th (375 performances) Music & Lyrics: Leslie Bricusse Book: Leslie Bricusse Director: Steven Pimlott Choreographer: Aletta Collins Musical Director: Michael England Cast: Phillip Schofield (Dr Dolittle), Bryan Smith (Matthew Mugg), James Paul Bradley/Samuel Carter-Brown/Darien Smith (Tommy Stubbins), Sarah Jane Hassell (Emma Fairfax), Peter Cellier (General Bellowes), John Rawnsley (Albert Blossom), Holli Hoffman (Chee-Chee), Peter Gallagher (Straight Arrow), Voice of Julie Andrews (Polynesia), Gary Forbes, Michael Gyngell, Drew Varley Songs: My Friend the Doctor, The Vegetarian, Talk To The Animals, I've Never Seen Anything Like It, Beautiful Things, When I Look Into Your Eyes, Save the Animals, Something In Your Smile. Story : Matthew Mugg and his friend Tommy Stubbins visit Doctor John Dolittle and his houseful of animals, including a talking parrot named Polynesia. Dolittle says he can speak over 500 animal languages. Matthew meets the rare two-headed Pushmi-Pullyu from Tibet and falls in love with Emma, the niece of Dolittle’s crusty neighbour, General Bellowes. At Albert Blossom’s circus Dolittle talks to a sea-lion named Sophie who longs to return to her husband, so he takes her to some cliffs and throws her into the sea. However, two fishermen mistake the seal for a woman, and Dolittle is charged with murder. Matthew, Tommy, Polynesia, Chee-Chee, the chimp, Jip the dog, and Emma all join the Doctor and flee the country by ship. Following a shipwreck they land on Sea Star Island for a series of adventures, and finally meet Sophie and her husband who bring a message that all is forgiven and the Doctor will be welcomed back home. The others sail back home on the Great Pink Sea Snail, whilst the Doctor chooses to fly home on the back of the Giant Lunar Moth. Notes: With clever animatronic puppets from the Jim Henson studio, and a flying moth over the auditorium, this £4 million production was a satisfactory adaptation of the Rex Harrison/Anthony Newley film version, and provided ideal family entertainment for the best part of a year’s run.
OKLAHOMA (2nd Revival)
Photo by Michael Le Poer Trench
London run: Olivier Theatre, July 15th – October 3rd (Fixed run) Transferred (re-staged) Lyceum Theatre, Jan 20th, 1999 (93 Performances)
OKLAHOMA (2nd Revival) London run: Olivier Theatre, July 15th – October 3rd (Fixed run) Re-staged Lyceum Theatre, Jan 20th, 1999 (93 Performances) Music: Richard Rodgers Book & Lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II Director: Trevor Nunn Choreographer: Susan Stroman Musical Director: John Owen Edwards Producer: Cameron Mackintosh Cast: Maureen Lipman (Aunt Eller), Hugh Jackman (Curly), Josefina Gabrielle (Laurey), Jimmy Johnston (Will Parker), Vicki Simon (Ado Annie), Shuler Hensley (Jud Fry), Peter Polycarpou (Ali Hakim), Gavin Lee
Photo by Michael Le Poer Trench
Notes: With additional funding from Cameron Mackintosh this was a glorious full-scale production, and a sellout for its National Theatre season, earning the desperately needed money following cuts in the arts grants. Reservations were expressed about whether the subsidised National Theatre should be producing such obviously commercial material, but everyone agreed it was of a standard unlikely to be bettered. Following its sell-out success at the Olivier it was re-staged for a five month run at the Lyceum. Original London Production: Drury Lane, April 1947 First Revival: Palace Theatre September 1980
Hugh Jackman & Maureen Lipman
CLOSER THAN EVER (1st Revival) London run: Jermyn Street Theatre, July 20th – August 22nd Music: David Shire Lyrics: Richard Malty Jr. Director: Matthew White Choreographer: Sam Spencer-Lane Musical Director: Caroline Humphris/Martin Lowe Cast: Helen Hobson, Beverley Klein, Mark McKerracher, Gareth Snook
Photo by Ash Scott Lockyer
Songs: Doors, She Loves Me Not, You Want to Be My Friend? The Bear the Tiger the Hamster & the Mole, The Sound of Muzak, One of the Good Guys, You’re my First Second, Fandango, The March of Time, Father of Fathers, Another Wedding Song, I’ve Been Here Before Story: Four singers with 24 songs sing about love, rejection, obsession, fatherhood, marriage, sex, friendship, getting old. There is no plot, but , a bit like Sondheim’s “Company”, a great deal of emotional life is covered as the characters slide in and out of a mocked up subway train. This was an intimate but “very American” entertainment. Original London production: Bridewell, 1995 Mark McKerracher, Gareth Snook, Beverly Klein & Helen Hobson
GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1st Revival) London run: Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, July 23rd – September 1st Music: Jule Styne Lyrics: Leo Robin Book: Anita Loos & Joseph Fields Director: Ian Talbot Choreographer: Lisa Kent Musical Director: Catherine Jayes
Photo by Alastair Muir
Cast: Sara Crowe (Lorelei Lee), Debby Bishop (Dorothy), Clive Rowe (Gus), Harry Burton (Henry), Audrey Palmer (Ella), John Griffiths (Sir Francis Beekman), Gary Raymond, Jeffrey Dench, Joanne Redman, Nova Skipp Following its season in the Park, this production did a UK tour. Debby Bishop, Audrey Palmer, Sara Crowe, Clive Rowe, Harry Burton & Martin Turner
Notes: Original London run: Princes Theatre, August 1962
NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY London run: Arts Theatre, August 3rd (25 performances) Music, Book & Lyrics: Douglas J. Cohen Director: Neil Marcus Choreographer: Donna McKechnie Musical Director: Cast: Paul Brown (Morris Brummell), Joan Savage (Flora Brummell), Tim Flavin (Christopher Gill), Donna McKechnie (Alexandra Gill, Mrs Sullivan, Carmella, Sadie), Joanna Riding (Sarah Stone), Bruce Alexander, Kate Graham, Clare Rimmer, James Spilling. Songs: One of the Beautiful People, I’ve Been a Bad Boy
Notes: Based on the novel by William Goldman and the 1967 film starring Lee Remick and Rod Steiger, this had a top-class star cast appearing in what was generally regarded as London’s tackiest theatre and a very cheap production. Donna McKechnie playing all the murder victims and Kit’s mother, Joan Savage as a superbly funny Jewish mother, Tim Flavin, top-quality dancer and singer – all were highly praised, but the show itself received very mixed notices and ran just three weeks. Donna McKechnie & Tim Flavin
Photo by Ash Scott Lockyer
Story: The two mother-fixated men at the heart of this musical murder show are the Jewish Police Detective Morris Brummell, pursued by his suffocating mother, Flora; and Christopher “Kit” Gill, a failed actor haunted by the ghost of his successful actress mother. There is a mother-fixated woman, too, Sarah Stone – her mother is a rich socialite only interested in glamorous charities. Kit decides the only way to out-do his mother’s fame is to become a serial killer, carrying out his crimes in various disguises including a priest, a flamenco dancer, and a stiletto heeled woman. Morris can earn respect from his mother if he manages to find the killer. Sarah is a potential witness, and, after questioning, falls in love with Morris.
WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND
Photo by Philip Wade
London run: Kenneth More Theatre, September 2nd (5 performances – fixed run) Music & Lyrics: Richard Taylor Book: Russell Labey & Richard Taylor Director: Vivyan Ellacott Musical Director: Edna Graham Cast: Nic Greenshields (The Man), Katie Waller (Cathy Bostock), Leonard Charles (Dad), Jason Kew, David Kingsmill, Steven Day, Pharic Scott, Kelly Chinery, Sophia Wrightman Nic Greenshields as The Man Notes: The first musical version of “Whistle Down the Wind” was created by Russell Labey and Richard Taylor at the New Olympus Theatre in Gloucester. It was then given a large amateur production by the National Youth Music Theatre in August 1993 in Kirkcaldy and toured to Edinburgh and the Lilian Baylis Theatre at Sadler’s Wells. Andrew Lloyd Webber, patron of the NYMT, expressed interest in staging a professional production, but became so taken with the idea that he decided to write his own version. The LloydWebber version had opened two months earlier than this Kenneth More Theatre production - a fully-staged version with professional leads and a large children’s chorus - making it possible to compare two very different versions of the same story.
PERSONALS London run: New End, September 3rd – October 11th Music: Various Book & Lyrics: David Crane, Seth Friedman, Marta Kaufman Director: Dion McHugh Choreographer: Sam Spencer-Lane Musical Director: Matthew Freeman Cast: David Bardsley (Louis), Martin Callaghan (Typesetter), Marcus Allen Cooper (Sam), Christina Fry (Louise), Ria Jones (Kim), Summer Rognlie (Claire) Songs: Nothing to do with Love, Moving in With Linda, Mama’s Boys, I Think You Should Know, Some Things Don’t End, The Guy I Love
Photo by Joss Reiver Bany
Story: A musical revue of some 15 songs provides an insight into six people seeking love through the Personal columns : Kim, a lonely divorcée, obsessed with her ex-husband; Claire and Sam are neighbours who unknowingly end up on a blind date together; a newspaper typesetter puts in a joke personal ad for his wife and ends up in a threesome with a dwarf; Louis, a nerdy guy needs a self-help videotape on how to date a woman; and sparkly Louise is determined to change the nature of her Mr Potato-Head boyfriend .
Marcus Allen Cooper, David Bardsley & Martin Callaghan
Notes: With a three piece band and an excellent cast, the few critics who reviewed this fringe production felt it deserved a wider audience. However, the show would have to wait a couple of years before making it to the West End itself.
Photo by Ivan Kyncl
ANNIE (2nd Revival) London run: Victoria Palace, September 30th (173 performances) Music: Charles Strouse Lyrics: Martin Charnin Book: Thomas Meehan Director: Martin Charnin Choreographer: Peter Gennaro Musical Director: John Evans Producer: Paul Elliott, etc.
Cast: Lesley Joseph (Miss Hannigan), Charlene Barton/Sophie McShera (Annie), Kevin Colson (Oliver Warbucks), Kate Normington (Grace Farrell). Andrew Kennedy (Rooster), Gail Marie Shapter (Lily), Matt Zimmerman (Bert Healy), Peter Harding (FDR) This was re-created by the same production team that staged the original London production in 1978 – twenty years earlier. Most critics welcomed it back, though one or two felt the intervening decades had taken the edge off the show. It ran for five months. Notes: See original London production: Victoria Palace, May 1978 First revival: Adelphi Theatre, December 1982
CITY OF ANGELS (1st Revival) London run: Landor Theatre, September 29th – October 4th Music: Cy Coleman Lyrics: David Zippel Book: Larry Gelbart Director: Eileen Gourlay Choreographer: Tim Taylor Musical Director: Laurence Wythe Cast: Andrew Bain (Stein), Russell Wilcox (Stone), Claire Carpenter (Oolie/Donna), Jody Hall (Buddy Fidler), Claire Bryan, Beth Eden. Serena Giacomini. Matthew Gould, Barbara Hastings, William Wolfe Hogan, Abigail Hopkins, Anthony O’Driscoll This was not a success. Following a string of “fringe” revivals, many critics were suggesting that small-scale, cut-down versions of established West End/Broadway musicals enabled the audience to concentrate more on the works themselves, and brought some interesting gains. However, not in this case. Fringe productions needed to be completely re-thought. This was just an attempt to produce West End glitz on a shoestring, and it failed. Notes: Original London Production: Prince of Wales, March 1993
Photo by Catherine Ashmore
WEST SIDE STORY (4th Revival) London run: Prince Edward Theatre, October 6th (119 performances) Transferred : Prince of Wales, January 22nd (403 performances) Music: Leonard Bernstein Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Book: Arthur Laurents Director-Choreographer: Jerome Robbins (Re-produced by Alan Johnson) Musical Director: Fraser Skeoch Producer: Andre Ptasynski, Pola Jones & Theatre Royal Plymouth
Cast: David Habbin (Tony), Katie Knight-Adams (Maria), Edward Baker-Duly (Riff), Edward Hayes-Neary (Diesel), Graham Macduff (Bernardo), Anna-Jane Casey (Anita) , Teddy Green, Alexander Delamere This touring production was as near as possible a complete re-creation of the original version from 40 years earlier – with some added significance in that Jerome Robbins had died a few months prior to its revival. Several critics felt the magnificent show had a whiff of mothballs about it, and needed a completely new approach (like the current “Oklahoma” at the National Theatre.) The “dream ballet” was especially felt to be very dated, and the finger-clicking routines seemed over-choreographed and lacking spontaneity for today’s audiences.) However, others felt it held up extremely well and everyone agreed it remained one of the most brilliant scores in musical theatre. It ran for fifteen weeks at the Prince Edward and then transferred to the Prince of Wales for another year, closing January 8th 2000. Notes: Original London production, Her Majesty’s, Dec 1958; First revival: Collegiate Theatre, July 1973 Second revival: Shaftesbury Theare, December 1974; Third revival: Her Majesty’s, May 1984
FAME (2nd Revival) London run: Prince of Wales, October 15th (124 performances) Music: Steve Margoshes Lyrics: Jacques Levy Book: David de Silva & Jose Fernandez Director: Karen Bruce Choreographer: Lars Bethke Musical Director: David Beer Producer: Adam Spiegel
Cast: Adrian Hansel (Tyrone), Ruby-Marie Hutchinson (Mabel), Kimberley Partridge (Serena), Andrew Langtree (Nick), Loraine Velez (Carmen), Rebecca Reaney (Iris), Paul Lyons, Tom Newman, Nina French, James Earl Adair, Michelle Dixon, Michael Bell, Zoe Tyler Original London Production: Cambridge Theatre , June 1995 First revival: Victoria Palace, November 1997
BOOGIE NIGHTS London run: Savoy Theatre, October 20th (95 performances) Music & Lyrics: Various Director: Jon Conway Book: Jon Conway, Shane Richie & Terry Morrison Choreographer: Alan Harding Musical Director: Rick Taylor
Photo by Universal Pictorial Press
Cast: Shane Richie (Roddy), Lisa Maxwell (Debs), Sharon Benson (Lorraine), Peter Piper (Spencer), Nicholas Denney (Eamon), Steven Serlin (Terry), Jane Doyle, Mark Thrippleton, Ian Royce, John Blackman, Jo Redburn, Simon Smith. Songs: YMCA, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, I Will Survive, Play that Funky Music Story: Roddy is a wannabe rock singer with a pregnant girlfriend, Debs, and with a roving eye for Lorraine – who is going out with Spencer, the dope-dealing slap-head band-leader at the Boogie Nights disco. Roddy’s life is further complicated by his Elvisloving, obstreperous, Irish Dad, Eamon, and his thick, sex-starved mate, Terry. It all turns out happily and any plot is nothing more than an excuse for a whole evening of “rose-tinted nostalgia with more flares than flair”.
Shane Ritchie & Lisa Maxwell
Notes: This was a touring production which had originated at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley, and was playing a limited season in the West End. It received very mixed notices: “the most dismal of my theatregoing experiences”, “a blatant rip-off”, “pleasantly terrible, weirdly wonderful”, “sends us home on a nine-mile high”. The critics generally liked Shane Richie, but were unanimous in their praise for the young chorus boydancer, Simon Smith, saying he was the best thing in the show.
INTO THE WOODS (1st Revival) London run: Donmar Warehouse, November 16th – February 13th Music & Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim Book: James Lapine Director: John Crowley Choreographer: Jonathan Butterell Musical Director: Mark Warman Cast: Frank Middlemass (Narrator), Clare Burt (Witch), Christopher Pizzey (Jack), Sheila Reid (Jack’s Mother), Nick Holder (Baker), Sophie Thompson (Baker’s Wife), Jenna Russell (Cinderella), Samantha Lavender (Rapunzel), Sheridan Smith (Red Riding Hood), Damian Lewis (Cinderella’s Prince), Matt Rawle (Rapunzel’s Prince), Caroline Sheen (Florinda), Ceri Ann Gregory (Lucinda) Dilys Laye Notes: Original London Production: Phoenix Theatre, September 1990
KILLING RASPUTIN London run: Bridewell, November 30th – January 16th Music: James McConnel Lyrics: Kit Kesketh-Harvey Book: Stephen Clarke & Kit Hesketh-Harvey Director: Ian Brown Choreographer: Jozef Houben Musical Director: Timothy Sutton Cast: Hal Fowler (Prince Felix Yusupov), Jerome Pradon (Rasputin), Andrew Halliday (Grand Duke Dimitri Romanov), Meredith Braun (Princess Irina Romanov), Gay Soper (Tsarina Alexandra), Terry Bolton/Jamie Rockall (Tsarevitch Alexei).
Story: Princess Irina is betrothed to Grand Duke Dimitri, and on leave from the Russian front, he takes her to a night-club. In a drunken state he is seduced by the night-club singer, who turns out to be the cross-dressing Prince Yusupov. Yusupov is also having an affair with the “holy” monk Rasputin, the one-time hermit who claims to be able to cure the haemophilia of the young Tsarevitch. Rasputin betrays Yusupov, physically beating him, so, by way of revenge, Yusupov, with help from Dimitri, sets about ridding Russia of the Mad Monk. They feed him poisoned wine, poisoned food, and when those fail, they finally shoot Rasputin in spite of his dire prophecy that his death at the hands of a Romanov will lead to Russia “bleeding for a lifetime” Notes: A sung-through piece with some 33 songs, this received a very mixed critical response: admiration for the performances and the attempt to create a “serious” musical, but general indifference to the unfocussed and humourless. Jerome Pradon
THE KING AND I (5th Revival) London run: BAC Main, December 3rd – January 9th (Limited run) Music: Richard Rodgers Lyrics & Book: Oscar Hammerstein II Director: Phil Willmott Choreographer: Jack Gunn Musical Director: Annemarie Lewis Thomas Cast: Lindsey Danvers (Anna), Alan Mosley (King), Jacqui-Lee Pryce (Lady Thiang), Lara Parmiani (Tuptim), Learie Foster (Lun Tha), Phil Willmott (Sir Edward) Following the previous year’s success in fitting “Sound of Music” into the Battersea Arts Centre’s main house – which is more a gymnasium than an auditorium – this was again judged to be a great success. Notes: See original London production, Drury Lane, June 1953 First revival: Adelphi, October 1973 Second revival: London Palladium, June 1979 Third revival: Sadler’s Wells, February & June 1991 Fourth revival: Freemason’s Hall, May 1995
Photo by Roger Howard
Songs: But We Can Love, Kyrie Eleison, Gospodi, World Hold Your Breath, To Love is to Hate, If Only it Would Stop , So Nearly Perfect, He heals the pain, Tennis and Picnics, Liebling .