Betty Blue Eyes, Producer Cameron Mackintosh's First New Musical in a Decade, Opens in London April 13 | Playbill

News Betty Blue Eyes, Producer Cameron Mackintosh's First New Musical in a Decade, Opens in London April 13
The world-premiere run of Betty Blue Eyes, a new musical based on the British film comedy "A Private Function" that was originally scripted by Alan Bennett, officially opens at the West End's Novello Theatre April 13 following previews that began March 19.

Featuring a score by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (currently represented on Broadway by their additional songs for Mary Poppins), it is produced by Cameron Mackintosh, directed by Richard Eyre and choreographed by Stephen Mear, all of whom also served duty as co-producer, director and co-choreographer, respectively, on Mary Poppins.

"A Private Function," scripted by Bennett, centered around Betty, an adorable pig, who is being illegally reared to ensure the local dignitaries can celebrate the Royal Wedding with a lavish banquet while the local population make do with spam. Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman have now adapted and expanded this story for the stage. And while Britain is looking forward to another impending Royal Wedding for a future monarch, with Prince William about to marry Kate Middleton, this show revolves around the earlier Royal Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

According to press materials, belts are being tightened and the country's long-suffering citizens are being told by the government that there will be fair shares for all in return for surviving Austerity Britain. Meanwhile, local officials feather their own nests by taking far more than their own fair share. It is of course 1947 and having won the war Britain seems to have lost the peace and the country is staggering under the burden of acute rationing, unemployment, and the coldest winter for decades. The only bright spark on the horizon is the impending Royal Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

In a press statement, Mackintosh commented, "Even though my recent productions of Oliver!, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins and the new Les Miz have all had great success, Betty Blue Eyes is my first original musical in over 10 years. As a long time admirer of Alan Bennett's wickedly funny screenplay for the film 'A Private Function,' I immediately fell in love with this infectious and delicious musical treatment which has expanded on the original. It is an utterly British and suitably crackers musical and yet surprisingly was the idea of two American writers Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman — but you'd never know it! As we all face Austerity Britain and a Royal Wedding, Betty Blue Eyes proves that British pluck will make sure good times are just around the corner." Read what producer Mackintosh recently told about his return to producing new musicals.

The cast is led by Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith. Lancashire, who plays Joyce, is best known for her TV roles as Raquel in "Coronation Street" as well as her appearances in "Clocking Off," "Cherished," "Five Daughters," "Murder Most Horrid" and "The Small Things," all for the BBC, and "Where the Heart Is," "Rose and Maloney," "Seeing Red" and "The Cry" for ITV. She was most recently seen in the West End as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Shearsmith, who plays Gilbert, co-wrote and starred as part of The League of Gentlemen comedy troupe on TV, film and stage. He is also co-writer and star of the BBC’s "Psychoville." He was last seen on the West End stage in Ghost Stories (Duke of York's) and has previously also appeared as Leo Bloom in The Producers and Art.

Other featured roles include David Bamber as Swaby, Jack Edwards as Allardyce, Ann Emery as Mother Dear, Mark Meadows as Lockwood and Adrian Scarborough (who recently won the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performance by an Actor his appearance in last year's After the Dance at the National) as Wormold.

The company also includes Rachael Archer, James Barron, Dan Burton, Ian Conningham, Holly Dale-Spencer, Neil Ditt, Victoria Hay, Kirsty Hoiles, Chris Howell, Howard Jones, Robert Kershaw, Rebecca Louis, Andy Mace, Claire Machin, Laura Medforth, Annalisa Rossi, Hollie Taylor and Gemma Wardle.

Further creative credits include designs by Tim Hatley, lighting by Neil Austin and sound design by Mick Potter. The musical director is Richard Beadle, musical supervisor is Stephen Brooker and orchestrations are by William David Brohn.

To book tickets, contact the box office on 0844 482 5170, or visit

Sarah Lancashire, Cameron Mackintosh and Reece Shearsmith
Sarah Lancashire, Cameron Mackintosh and Reece Shearsmith

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