David Kernan Discusses the West End Tribute to Dorothy Fields

News   David Kernan Discusses the West End Tribute to Dorothy Fields

Dorothy Fields Forever has already had a successful run in Jermyn Street? "Yes, it started its life there and did very well, but we were only there for a couple of weeks, which isn't enough to get the word round. As we knew the show worked, when Dan Crawford offered us a month at the King's Head we jumped at it."

What was the appeal for you of creating a show about Dorothy Fields? "We had two trump cards to play, as far as this show was concerned: First, most people in Britain hadn't heard of her, and second, the songs that she wrote, as lyricist, were so amazingly varied. There's a huge difference between, say, 'He Had Refinement' and 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love.'

"Eden Phillips, who co-devised the show and wrote it, has created a wonderfully engaging but economic show — in the sense that there was just so much material that we had to get comfortably into one evening, while giving people information and, I hope, insight into what made Dorothy tick."

She began in the 1920's and carried on to the 1970's. That's bound to provide a wide range of styles! Presumably she was pretty tough as well as talented, to have lasted that long. "She certainly was. She had her downs as well as her successes, and, as we hint in the show, she got a bit too friendly with the bottle on occasion, but she kept going." What were some of her best-known songs? "There are so many! 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love,' 'On the Sunny Side of the Street,' 'I'm in the Mood for Love,' 'I Won't Dance,' 'A Fine Romance,' 'The Way You Look Tonight,' 'He Had Refinement' and a whole load of songs from Sweet Charity — 'If My Friends Could See Me Now,' 'Hey, Big Spender' and the song that stops the show every night, which is 'The Rhythm of Life'!"

Can you imagine anyone other than Angela Richards playing the lead role of Dorothy? "No! I think she's a unique talent and was the only person I had in mind for the part. All the cast are very talented, but she has that extraordinary combination of a strong voice, great vocal range, acting skills and is the right age to convey the worldliness, the humor and — under a tough facade — the vulnerability that Dorothy had."

Given the songs are so good and the cast get an amazing reception from the King's Head audience every night, is there any chance of a cast album? "That's a nice idea, and if the show gets a further life — either a longer run at the King's Head or a run somewhere else, then it's a possibility.

"Record companies prefer to tie a CD into a run for obvious reasons, so however good a cast and their material may be, a CD is only likely if you have arranged a three month-or-so season somewhere. Meanwhile, I'm happy people are enjoying the music live — after all, most of the songs were written to be performed in a theatre!"

—By Paul Webb Theatrenow