By Jeeves, the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical that was at one time a potential contender for the 1999 Tony derby, is now hoping to arrive on Broadway in spring 2000 after a regional engagement.
A spokesperson at the Goodspeed Opera House, which produced the musical last season, said nothing was certain and no regional theatre had been selected. However, a source close to the production said producers were talking with the Alley Theatre in Houston. Last season, the Alley staged such Broadway-bound productions as Not About Nightingales and The Civil War. Last spring, it looked like By Jeeves might jump into the Helen Hayes Theatre as a late entry in the Tony race for best musical. Lloyd Webber et al may have been encouraged to act on By Jeeves by the tepid showing among new musicals during 1998-99. Footloose, Parade and Fosse (the eventual winner of the Tony) received largely mixed-to-poor notices. However, executive director of the Goodspeed, Michael Price, told the New York Times that the theatre, the actors and the budget were all in line for By Jeeves but director book writer Alan Ayckbourn had schedule conflicts.
Originally titled Jeeves, the musical opened in London in 1975 with music by Webber and book and lyrics by Alan Ayckbourn. Webber and Ayckbourn directed a revised version of the musical in the West End in summer 1996. The American premiere, again under Ayckbourn's direction, opened in November 1996 for an extended run at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT. There was much talk at the time of the show coming to Broadway, with reports of its imminent arrival in Time Square continuing through much of 1997. The Goodspeed show traveled to L.A. and Washington, D.C., but never made it to Broadway.
Any Broadway production will attempt to preserve the Goodspeed cast, which featured John Scherer as Bertie and Richard Kline as Jeeves, along with Merwin Goldsmith (Sir Watkyn Bassett) and Emily Loesser (Stiffy Byng).
By Jeeves was choreographed by Sheila Carter, who also did the London production. The creative team includes Roger Glossop (sets), Louise Belson (costumes), Mick Hughes (lighting) and Richard Ryan (sound). Michael O'Flaherty serves as music director. The plot of By Jeeves concerns Bertie Wooster's banjo recital in a church hall. When Jeeves, a lover of music, steals the instrument, Wooster must improvise with "a dizzying tale of romantic entanglements and mistaken identities involving his friends and their love interests."