The revised version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical By Jeeves is transfering to the Duke of York Theatre in London's West End.
The musical opens July 2 for what's being billed as a limited run, but Lloyd Webber's spokesman Peter Brown told Playbill On-Line that no closing date has been set. When asked about a Broadway production, Brown said "not yet."
The musical is based on P.G. Wodehouse's novels about a consummately organized butler, Jeeves, and his bumbling, trouble-prone employer, Bertie Wooster. The libretto is by Alan Ayckbourn, who was quoted by Variety as saying By Jeeves is a "15th cousin, 10 times removed" from his 1975 original version, titled simply Jeeves.
Until now it was Lloyd Webber's only major flop. But the revised version opened to strongly positive reviews May 1 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, U.K., where Ayckbourn debuts all his new comedies. The Scarborough production ran through June 1.
The Duke of York's Theatre on St. Martin's Lane is being converted into a theatre in the round for By Jeeves, to maintain the atmosphere of the show being produced in a village hall. Ayckbourn's Wodehousean plot has Bertie Wooster supposedly putting on a banjo recital to raise funds for a good cause. Unfortunately, the banjo is broken and a new one will take two hours to arrive. Jeeves and Wooster therefore decide to entertain the gathered audience with a few anecdotes. And the show proceeds from there. Peter Brown, Webber's spokesman in New York, told Playbill On-Line that it will "depend on how it goes," whether the show will come to Broadway.
The musical has never had a major American production, but the Variety story quotes Webber as saying Goodspeed Opera House, and the Long Wharf Theatre, both in Connecticut, have expressed interest in hosting the U.S. premiere.
Goodspeed Artistic Director Michael Price confirmed to Playbill On-Linethat he's been talking to Lloyd Webber for more than a year about the project, but would give no other details.
The Variety story said Lloyd Webber wanted a "small show" to add to his company's catalog so that small theatre troupes, unable to tackle the epics like Phantom would have a Lloyd Webber show to produce.