Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest musical, a drastically overhauled version of his 1975 musical Jeeves, retitled By Jeeves opened July 2 at the Duke of York's Theatre in London's West End.
Here are excerpts from the review by Playbill On-Line London correspondent Sheridan Morley. The full version appeared in the International Herald Tribune:
"By George, by Jove, by jingo, By Jeeves, they finally did it. Fully 21 years after Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber's attempt to make a musical of P.G. Wodehouse's classic country-house comedies first thudded onto the stage like two tons of condemned British beef, they have at least got the show as nearly right as it will ever be.
"Instead of trying to encapsulate several of the best known Wodehouse plots, [Ayckbourn] has thrown out the aunts and the pigs and all the other apparatus of Plum's eccentric imagination and given us instead a plot of his own concoction.
Lloyd Webber simply provides a dozen songs, wisely retaining "Code of the Woosters" and "Banjo Boy" and the enchanting "Half a Moment" from the original. "The result is a little treasure. Shaky at first, certainly, and vaguely miscast with Steven Pacey's Wooster and Malcolm Sinclair's Jeeves altogether too alike in age and manner for the paternal master-servant relationship switch that likes at the heart of the jokes. But swiftly and surely Ayckbourn's staging builds to a dazzlingly joyful second half, which opens with one of the greatest title songs I have ever heard in a British musical.
"By Jeeves is now a musical comedy which the old man himself would have recognized and even envied, and praise can't come much higher than that."
By Jeeves is scheduled to make its U.S. debut at Goodspeed Opera House's Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT, in November.