Goodspeed Musicals will present Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn's "musical entertainment," By Jeeves on Broadway, at the Helen Hayes Theatre, beginning previews Oct. 17.
Opening for the musical, based on the characters of P.G. Wodehouse, will be Oct. 28. Goodspeed's executive director, Michael P. Price, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist librettist Alan Ayckbourn wanted the 597-seat Hayes earlier this year, but a booking of George Gershwin Alone, now closed, prevented that. The delay to the fall may have been a blessing: The Producers ended up stealing the focus of the 2000-2001 season and sweeping the musical categories of the 2001 Tony Awards.
By Jeeves was indeed expected this fall. Ayckbourn will direct the staging, as he did the February 2001 production at Pittsburgh Public Theatre. That staging was documented in a video production filmed in a studio in Canada earlier this year. A home or broadcast release has not been announced. Designers for By Jeeves on Broadway are Roger Glossop (scenic), Louise Belson (costumes), Mick Hughes (lighting) and Richard Ryan (sound).
Tickets go on sale Sept. 16. A cast has not yet been announced, but it's expected that some of the 2001 regional company, made up of Broadway veterans, will return to the production.
The musical, which has been in development for many years, beginning with a seminal work by Lloyd Webber and Ayckbourn called Jeeves, in 1975, is described this way in the Broadway announcement: "By Jeeves takes place in a church hall where Bertie Wooster is scheduled to give a banjo recital. His faithful manservant, Jeeves, a lover of music, steals the banjo, forcing Bertie to improvise with a dizzying tale full of romantic entanglements and mistaken identities involving his friends and their love interests." The intimate period musical comedy got its U.S. debut by Goodspeed Musicals in 1996 at The Norma Terris Theatre in Connecticut. Bookings in 1997 in Los Angeles and Washington, DC, followed. Pittsburgh Public Theater premiered the further revised version in February 2001.
Tickets are $75-$85. The Helen Hayes is at 240 W. 44th St. For tickets, call (212) 239-6200 beginning Sept. 16.
A cast album of By Jeeves in on the Really Useful Records/Decca Broadway label.
Lloyd Webber is one of the most successful theatre composers in history, having composed Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Jeeves (later reworked as By Jeeves), Evita, Variations and Tell Me on a Sunday (later combined as Song & Dance), Cats, Starlight Express, The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard, Whistle Down the Wind and The Beautiful Game.
The composer is working on the film version of The Phantom of the Opera and, according to The Toronto Star, has enlisted director Robert Carsen, who has a background almost exclusively in opera, to stage a revised version of Sunset Boulevard. Carsen's staging of The Beautiful Game is expected in Toronto in fall 2002, according to The Toronto Star.
The British Ayckbourn is known for his hugely successful stage comedies, including The Norman Conquests, Bedroom Farce, Communicating Doors, Comic Potential, Absurd Person Singular, A Chorus of Disapproval, Woman in Mind, Man of the Moment and more.