London's Betty Blue Eyes To Shutter at Novello Theatre Sept. 24

News   London's Betty Blue Eyes To Shutter at Novello Theatre Sept. 24
Betty Blue Eyes, the new musical that Cameron Mackintosh has produced at the West End's Novello Theatre, based on the Alan Bennett film "A Private Function," is to shutter Sept. 24, after a run of only six months. It began performances March 19 prior to an official opening April 13.

Sarah Lancashire
Sarah Lancashire Photo by Michael Le Poer Trench

According to a press statement issued by the producer, "After receiving some of the best reviews seen for a brand new musical in the past 20 years and despite an enormously enthusiastic reaction from audiences each night, the new musical has failed to attract an audience in sufficient numbers to remain economically viable.  It seems that the prevailing economic uncertainties nationally are leading audiences to take less risks on spending their money on new and unknown work and to seek refuge in safe and familiar titles and material.  It is, perhaps, significant that Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera continue to play to packed houses every night."

Mackintosh himself has commented, "It is very curious — after such amazing reviews and positive word of mouth, no one knows the real reason why Betty couldn't find a bigger audience. We have been consistently playing to just over 50 percent but it just isn't enough to cover the costs.  Of course I am disappointed but I'm not despondent, I am enormously proud of Betty. I know that she will eventually have her day and another life."

Featuring a score by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (currently represented on Broadway by their additional songs for Mary Poppins), it is produced by 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.

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


The cast of <i>Betty Blue Eyes</i>
The cast of Betty Blue Eyes
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