Jessie Wallace and Gary Kemp to Star in Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be at London's Theatre Royal, Stratford East
By Mark Shenton
Jessie Wallace (best known for her television role in "EastEnders") and Gary Kemp (of pop group Spandau Ballet) are to star in a new production of Lionel Bart's musical Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be at London's Theatre Royal, Stratford East, where it was originally premiered in 1959. It will begin performances May 8, 2014, for a run through to June 8, prior to an national tour.
With music and lyrics by Bart and a book by Frank Norman, it is presented in a new adaptation by Elliot Davis, and directed by Olivier and Tony winner Terry Johnson (La Cage aux Folles).
The show was initially developed in 1959 by Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop Company at Theatre Royal Stratford East, before transferring to the West End's Garrick Theatre, where it ran for 886 performances and won an Evening Standard Award for Best Musical. The show launched the career of Barbara Windsor and provided the name for a popular hit song by Max Bygraves.
Set at the end of the 1950s, preceding the birth of rock and roll and the Beatles, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be is set within an East End underworld of gamblers, spivs, prostitutes and Teddy boys. It tells the tale of Fred, a loveable rogue, who comes out of prison to find he is not quite the king of the manor he once was.
When asked to describe Fings, Joan Littlewood, described it as "Guys and Dolls but with its flies undone." In a press statement, Elliot Davis commented, "Our production hopes to make Fings find its rightful place in the catalogue of great British musicals. Ultimately the goal is to take this production on a national UK tour for the benefit of audiences across the whole of the UK."
Jessie Wallace, who will play Lil, is best known for her role as Kat Moon in "EastEnders." Other screen credits include "The Road To Coronation Street" for Granada (in which she played Pat Phoenix and was nominated for a BAFTA), "Spendingtons" and "Wild At Heart" for Company Pictures, "The Dinner Party" and "A Class Apar"t both for the BBC and Marie Lloyd for Hat Trick. Her stage credits include Stepping Out on UK tour, Haunted at the Arts Theatre and Rent at the Duke Of York’s Theatre.
As guitarist and songwriter for the group Spandau Ballet, Gary Kemp (who will play PC Collins) was responsible for writing the words and music for all of their 23 hit singles, including "True," "Gold," "Through The Barricades," "Only When You Leave" and "To Cut A Long Story Short. " His stage credits include The Rubenstein Kiss at Hampstead Theatre, Pig Night at the Menier Chocolate Factory and Art at the Wyndham’s Theatre.
Also in the cast are Sarah Middleton as Rosie, Ruth Alfie Adams as Brenda, Will Barton as Percy and Suzie Chard as Betty, with further casting to be announced shortly.
It is being produced by Stratford East with Elliot Davis, Paul Tyrer & Jamie Clark for The Booking Office, and Ros Povey Productions.
To book tickets, contact the box office on 020 8534 0310 or visit stratfordeast.com for further details.
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