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Betty Blue Eyes opens bookings

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Booking has opened for new Cameron Mackintosh musical Betty Blue Eyes, coming into the West End this Spring.

Stars of Betty Blue Eyes Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith

Stars of Betty Blue Eyes Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith

The new show, which is based on Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray’s acclaimed screenplay A Private Function, has been penned by Mackintosh protégées George Stiles (music) and Anthony Drewe (lyrics), with a book by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman.

Richard Eyre will direct the show, which previews from 19 March 2011 at the Novello Theatre.

The musical is a move back to new work for the Les Miserables producer, whose recent projects have been revivals of hit shows such as Mary Poppins and Oliver!, or transfers of Broadway shows Avenue Q and Hair. “Betty Blue Eyes is my first original musical in over ten years”, said Mackintosh. “As a long-time admirer of Alan Bennett’s wickedly funny screenplay for the film A Private Function, I immediately fell in love with this infectious and delicious musical treatment which has expanded on the original”.

The show will see Sarah Lancashire (Coronation Street, Seeing Red) as Joyce Chilvers, played in the 1984 movie by Maggie Smith. Lancashire will be returning to the West End after her brief appearance in Guys & Dolls in 2005. Her hen-pecked husband in the show, Gilbert, will be played by Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen).

The story is set in a small Yorkshire village just after the Second World War. When the locals want to celebrate the forthcoming Royal wedding of Elizabeth and Philip, post-war rationing prompts them to illegally raise a pig for the event. But social climber Joyce (Lancashire) and her down-trodden husband Gilbert (Shearsmith) plot a scheme of their own that throws the village into chaos.

The show’s opening will coincide with the forthcoming April marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Other casting includes Adrian Scarborough (After the Dance, Gavin & Stacey) as Wormold, David Bamber (My Night With Reg) as Swaby, Ann Emery (Billy Elliot) as Mother Dear, Jack Edwards as Allardyce and Mark Meadows as Lockwood.

The story is set in a small Yorkshire village just after the Second World War. When the locals want to celebrate the forthcoming Royal wedding, post-war rationing prompts them to illegally raise a pig for the event. But social climber Joyce (Lancashire) and her down-trodden husband Gilbert (Shearsmith) plot a scheme of their own that throws the village into chaos.

The show’s musical director is Richard Beadle, with musical staging by Stephen Mear, design by Tim Hatley, lighting by Neil Austin, sound by Mick Potter, musical supervision by Stephen Brooker and orchestrations by William David Brohn.

Ahead of Betty Blue Eyes, director Richard Eyre will direct Tom Hollander in a new production of Feydeau’s farce A Flea in her Ear at the Old Vic Theatre from 4 December.

Onassis is currently playing at the Novello Theatre starring Robert Lindsay, and is currently booking until 8 January 2011.

Read an interview with George Stiles and Anthony Drewe

Book tickets to Betty Blue Eyes at the Novello Theatre in London

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