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Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre

June 19, 2013 

Theatre impresario Cameron Mackintosh brings acclaimed musical Miss Saigon back to the West End.

The Boublil and Schönberg musical, which originally ran in London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane from 1989 to 1999, opens at the Prince Edward Theatre in May 2014.

It has been 25 years since the show first premiered in London directed by Nicholas Hytner, and has subsequently toured extensively around the world including the UK. This brand new production has been re-imagined by Laurence Connor.

Composers of the show, Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil, who wrote Les Miserables, have written a brand new song called ‘Maybe’ for the role of Ellen in this new production.

Miss Saigon has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg with lyrics by Richard Maltby Jnr and Alain Boublil, adapted from original French lyrics by Alain Boublil. This new production will be directed by Laurence Connor with Musical Staging by Bob Avian and additional Choreography by Geoffrey Garratt, Production Design by Totie Driver and Matt Kinley from an original concept by Adrian Vaux, Costume Design by Andreane Neofitou, Orchestrations by William David Brohn, Lighting Design by Bruno Poet and Sound Design by Mick Potter.

THE STORY

Set in 1975 during the final days of the American occupation of Saigon in Vietnam, Miss Saigon is an epic love story inspired by the opera Madame Butterfly about the relationship between an American GI and a young Vietnamese woman.

THE CAST

The cast for the show includes exciting new talent Eva Noblezada as Kim, Jon Jon Briones as The Engineer, Korean star Kwang-Ho Hong as Thuy, Alistair Brammer as Chris, Tamsin Carroll as Ellen, Hugh Maynard as John and Rachelle Ann Go as Gigi.

The ensemble includes Julia Abueva, Natalie Chua, Jon-Scott Clark, Rob Compton , Callum Francis, Ashley Gilmour, Maria Graciano, Simon Hardwick, Jack Harrison-Cooper, Matthew Jeans, Kurt Kansley, Kittiphun Kittipakapom, David Lee, Mitch Leow, Ela Lisondra, Tanya Manalang, Christian Rey Marbella, Kanako Nakano, Thao Therese Nguyen, Saori Oda, Ariel Reonal, Jon Reynolds, Romeo Salazar, Jordan Shaw, Marsha Songcome, Eloisa Amalia Tan, Christian Tanamal, Thao Vilayvong, Amadeus Williams and Gerald Zarcilla.

 

Betty Blue Eyes – Review

April 14, 2011 

A review of Betty Blue Eyes at the Novello Theatre in London

Sarah Lancashire as Joyce in Betty Blue Eyes. Photo: Roy Tan

Sarah Lancashire as Joyce in Betty Blue Eyes. Photo: Roy Tan

BETTY BLUE EYES 

A little bit of austerity joy has sprung up at the Novello Theatre where Cameron Mackintosh’s latest West End venture, Betty Blue Eyes, based on Malcolm Mowbray’s 1984 film A Private Function, has started a squealingly good run.

Set in a small Yorkshire town just after the Second World War, when austerity and food rationing is starting to bite hard, a group of local dignitaries plan to raise and slaughter an illegal pig for an exclusive, private function to celebrate the impending wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Phillip.

Alongside this runs the story of timid chiropodist Gilbert (Reece Shearsmith) and his social-climbing wife Joyce (Sarah Lancashire), who are thwarted in their efforts to get a foothold on the town’s social ladder and decide to steal the pig as an act of revenge (and hunger!).

Given the peculiarly British subject matter and source material, Mackintosh has clearly taken a gamble in hiring US screenwriters Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman to pen the book of the show, particularly as it’s their first musical. However, having a bit of distance from a subject is not a bad thing and they’ve written some pacey, witty dialogue that captures the spirit of the times without paying undue reverence to the movie.

But it’s the musical numbers by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe that go much further than the book in rounding out the themes of the show, without ever losing sight of the “let’s have fun” element which is writ large throughout this production.

Betty Blue Eyes is the most tuneful, humorous and inventive original score we’ve heard in the West End for some time, with a number of songs guaranteed to be around forever. Cameron Mackintosh has championed Stiles & Drewe for decades and they have enjoyed notable success but never a big West End production to truly call their own. Mackintosh had to step up to the plate at some point, and he’s done so with a show that will, finally, put this writing duo firmly on the international map of Class A theatre composers.

There is also no doubt that Alan Bennett’s screenplay for A Private Function, written with the movie’s director Malcolm Mowbray, is a major factor in the night’s success. Whilst the film was a little too depressing to be jolly good farce and too much like comedy to be a decent observation of post-war Britain, it was carried by Bennett’s beautifully observed characters – and the performances of Maggie Smith, Michael Palin, Denholm Elliot et al.

Much of the success of Richard Eyre’s production is based on the same factors. An animatronics pig may be the title lead of Betty Blue Eyes (given the rumoured expense of the pig, it was strangely unanimated, with stellar facial gestures but nothing that a good Jim Henson puppet couldn’t have achieved), but the real leads act Betty off the stage.

Sarah Lancashire in the role of Joyce Chivers is as close to a musical theatre revelation as you are likely to get, and plays her like she has been at the epicentre of musical theatre life in Britain for the last thirty years. There’s no question that the song of the night is “Nobody”, which she delivers with a fierce gusto that will be sung back to Cameron Mackintosh by thousands of auditioning gals for decades to come.

Lancashire plays Joyce much warmer than Maggie Smith, which in some ways highlights the tonal difference between the show and the film. Anyone who can play a sexy, house-proud Northern matriarch whilst singing big, show-stopping numbers, all the while adding an emotional heart, a dry wit and a beautifully composed showbiz smile, gets my vote!

Reece Shearsmith in Betty Blue Eyes. Photo: Roy Tan

Reece Shearsmith in Betty Blue Eyes. Photo: Roy Tan

The League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith puts in a surprisingly emotive and convincing performance as Gilbert, presumably honed from years of playing it straight in macabre (or farcical) surrounds, and whilst he is not an obvious song and dance man, he makes Gilbert his own.

Adrian Scarborough doesn’t have a lot of room for manoeuvre with Wormwold, the government food inspector who, in true ‘Allo ‘Allo! style, is not only dressed as the Gestapo, but continually referred to as the Gestapo, taking the show more in the direction of Panto through no fault of his own. His big number, Painting By Heart, which reveals his passion for his work – and the painting of illegal meat to render it inedible – seems to come too early, and we need to see more of his evil ways before he can lighten up and show us his passionate side.

Also, painting Wormwold as the evil villain takes some of the meanness away from the town’s elite, reinforced by turning Allardyce (a lovely performance by Jack Edwards) into a warm and cuddly “pigophile” and Dr Swayby, played by David Bamber, as a rather one-dimensional bigot (his anti-Semitic remarks may have been historically accurate, but don’t fit well in a show that presents itself as nothing less than a joyous romp through the post-war years). All of this slightly undermines what’s at the story’s heart: that British class meant that not everyone was living in austere times.

Richard Eyre has put together a fine, National Theatre-quality supporting cast, notably Ann Emery as Mother Dear. It could have just have been me, but there felt like a subtle nod to Les Miserables in a number of scenes, perhaps some light Cameron Mackintosh ribbing by the creative team, with barricades stormed by headscarf-clad matriarchs through Stephen Mear’s quirky and inventive choreography.

Design by Tim Hatley ensures that the show keeps momentum, beautifully set against a cartoon-like blue sky and green hills.

For Mackintosh, Betty Blue Eyes must feel like a small, austerity production. The Novello is not quite a tiny, converted chocolate factory in South London, but for a producer more used to enormous productions that go global, Betty Blue Eyes must feel small-scale. However, Mackintosh is a canny producer, not only for capitalising on our current austerity and impending Royal wedding, but in creating a show that can tour to any sized venue in Britain, filling gaps in Arts funding-cut theatres nationwide, and a production that can be played out in village halls for the next fifty years.

PAUL RAVEN

LINKS

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

More News on Betty Blue Eyes

Betty Blue Eyes photos

First Look Photos: Betty Blue Eyes at the Novello Theatre

April 4, 2011 

Exclusive photos of new Cameron Mackintosh musical Betty Blue Eyes at the Novello Theatre in London

Reece Shearsmith and Betty in Betty Blue Eyes

Reece Shearsmith and Betty in Betty Blue Eyes

Cameron Mackintosh’s latest stage production is a joyous new musical based on Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray’s acclaimed screenplay A Private Function.

Betty Blue Eyes, currently in previews at the Novello Theatre, stars multi-talented actress Sarah Lancashire and The League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith as formidable social climber Joyce Chilvers and her downtrodden husband Gilbert, played in the film by Maggie Smith and Michael Palin.

They join a talented cast including Olivier Award winner 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, Mark Meadows as Lockwood… and a rather talented animatronic pig called Betty!

Betty Blue Eyes is directed by the award-winning Richard Eyre and penned by George Stiles (music) and Anthony Drewe (lyrics), with a book by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman.

LINKS

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

More news on Betty Blue Eyes

REECE SHEARSMITH in Betty Blue Eyes

January 31, 2011 

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

SARAH LANCASHIRE in Betty Blue Eyes

January 31, 2011 

Sarah Lancashire takes on Maggie Smith’s role in the new stage musical Betty Blue Eyes.

Sarah LancashireCameron Mackintosh’s latest stage musical, Betty Blue Eyes, is based on Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray’s acclaimed screenplay A Private Function. In the film Maggie Smith played the formidable Joyce Chilvers, a role that accomplished TV star Sarah Lancashire will take on in the new stage production when it opens at the Novello Theatre from 19 March 2011.

Sarah trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is best known for her TV work, including playing Raquel in Coronation Street, All The Small Things, Dr Who, Clocking Off, Cherished, Fiver Daughters, Murder Most Horrid, Where The Heart Is, Rose and Maloney, Wurthering Heights, Seeing Red and The Cry.

Her stage work includes playing Miss Adelaide in the Donmar’s production of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly theatre, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at the Oldham Coliseum and Linda in Blood Brothers at the Albery (now the Noel Coward) Theatre.

Produced by Cameron Mackintosh, Betty Blue Eyes is 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 Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen) as Gilbert, 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.

LINKS

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

Interview with Betty Blue Eyes composers Stiles & Drewe

Betty Blue Eyes opens bookings

December 1, 2010 

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

OLIVIER AWARDS – Best Sound Winners

June 5, 2010 

OLIVIER AWARDS – Best Sound Winners

Best Sound Design

2012 Matilda The Musical designed by Simon Baker
2011 King Lear designed by Adam Cork
2010 Spring Awakening designed by Brian Rona
2009 Black Watch designed by Gareth Fry
2008 Saint Joan, designed by Paul Arditti and Jocelyn Pook
2007 Waves, designed by Gareth Fry
2006 Billy Elliot – The Musical designed by Paul Arditti
2005 The Woman In White designed by Mick Potter
2004 Jerry Springer – The Opera designed by Mike Walker

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