The League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith in Betty Blue Eyes.

Reece ShearsmithReece Shearsmith usually does the scaring rather than being scared: his recent work in Ghost Stories at the Duke of York’s Theatre and as part of The League of Gentlemen, have often left audiences feeling very unnerved.

But in Betty Blue Eyes, Cameron Mackintosh’s latest stage musical, he is the one scared to death – by a formidable wife!

Shearsmith plays hen-pecked, down-trodden husband Gilbert Chilvers, whose wife Joyce (played by Sarah Lancashire) is a social climber who will stop at nothing within their small Yorkshire village. Set just after the Second World War, when the locals of the village want to celebrate the forthcoming Royal wedding, post-war rationing prompts them to illegally raise a pig for the event. But Gilbert and Joyce have their own ideas for the animal – a plan that throws the village into chaos.

The show is based on Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray’s acclaimed screenplay A Private Function, with husband and wife famously played by Michael Palin and Maggie Smith.

Reece Shearsmith has built up an impressive list of stage credits alongside his TV and movie work, including Comedians at the Lyric Hammersmith, The Common Pursuit (Menier Chocolate Factory), The Producers (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), As You Like It (Wyndham’s Theatre) and Art (Whitehall Theatre), as well as The League of Gentlemen shows at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and on national tour.

Reece’s TV work includes the biopic of Morecambe and Wise, scary and twistedly funny series Psychoville and, of course, The League of Gentleman. Film includes Burke and Hare, The Cottage, The League of Gentleman’s Apocalypse, Shaun of the Dead and This Year’s Love.

Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, Betty Blue Eyes opens at the Novello Theatre from 19 March 2011, directed by Richard Eyre and penned by George Stiles (music) and Anthony Drewe (lyrics), with a book by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman. The show also stars Sarah Lancashire (Coronation Street, Clocking Off) as Joyce Chilvers, 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.

LINKS

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

Interview with Betty Blue Eyes composers Stiles & Drewe