Exclusive photo session with the stars of Bette & Joan at the Arts Theatre in London

Last week in the Spectator, Lloyd Evans said that the “fascinating and hilarious show” Bette & Joan, the bio-stage play about Hollywood legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, “has the makings of a cult hit”.

That’s certainly what the producer of Bette & Joan, Ann Pinnington, is hoping. Ann told westendtheatre.com this week at an exclusive photo shoot with the two stars of the show, Anita Dobson and Greta Scacchi, that a number of rival productions about the two Hollywood stars are circling London, but that she wanted her production to be the first to land.

So earlier this month, the Arts Theatre got to host the world premiere of Anton Burge’s new play, which tackles the long-running feud between Hollywood rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and is set in the stars’ dressing rooms on the back lot of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, the 1961 cult movie they both starred in.

Both Dobson and Scacchi put in extraordinary performances in the play. Scacchi’s uncanny portrayal of Bette Davis goes much further than an impersonation of the infamously fiery actress, and is a surprisingly intense and emotional performance. Dobson manages to make sense of the complex, contradictory Joan Crawford, and imbues the role with an innate and skilful humour that delights from beginning to end.

Whether Bette & Joan becomes a cult hit is to be seen but Anita Dobson and Greta Scacchi have certainly given the play a damn good start.

Bette & Joan is directed by Bill Alexander and ends its run at the Arts Theatre on 25 June 2011.

Photos exclusively for westendtheatre.com by Roy Tan. Roy Tan said: “When you shoot a two-hander like Bette & Joan, especially a play about two feuding divas, you brace yourself for some diva action of your own! That wasn’t the case here. Anita and Greta are clearly enjoying every minute of appearing together and had great fun on the set of the show at the Arts Theatre during the shoot. Given that I shot them between a matinee and evening performance, they were more than happy to slap on the slap, which is an especially big ask for Greta who has to transform herself during every show into Baby Jane!”

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