Saw this marvellous production on Friday 23 September and just can't understand why it is closing. The acting, singing, staging, special effects, humour and most especially "Betty" were all first class, as was Sarah Lancashire and Reece Sheersmith. A very well earned standing ovation and I do hope that "Betty" will return in the very near future. Perhaps a tour of the country would be a good idea. - Heather Scandrett
25 Sep 11
I'd give this 5 stars if there was one truly memorable song, like "You'll never walk alone" or "Some enchanted evening" or even "Love never dies." Then again, I will never forget the wholly enjoyable hilarious song sung by 5 users of a urinal, excoriating our "piss stained piss poor country!" The cast assembled for this was a five star cast, with Sarah Lancashire triumphing, her acting channeling a youthful Maggie Smith, her singing commanding. Ann Emery was comic gold as Lancashire's mother, and Reese Sheersmith gently touching and rather wonderful as her husband. And Adrian Scarborough was perfectly unforgettable as the meat inspector, who views painting meat green, to prevent it being eaten, as pure artistry. I attended the last performance which was terrifically moving, with the seemingly full house giving each performer's number a rousing send-off. Cameron Macintosh was in the house, and he watched as the two writers and the composer and the lyricist all took to the stage to sing and dance with the cast, especially with Sarah Lancashire, who introduced them to us. I was struck by how ephemeral a show can be, how ephemeral a cast, how ephemeral a moment and indeed how ephemeral we all are. But for those last few minutes, creatives, cast and audience felt locked in a perfect joyous moment of celebration. And after the other cast members exited, Ann Emery lingered and danced, and lifted her dress to show some leg, and it felt like the show would go on forever. - Steve
24 Sep 11
One of the best musicals I have seen in a while, The company is really strong and work their socks off, One problem maybe that there are so many throw away gags present you don't want to laugh too much in case you miss the next one. The design was brilliant, The choreography fantastic, Good musical numbers, I am pissed off its closing because everyone I recommend it to wants to go now. If I was CamMac I would tour it around the UK but change its name to Private Function - The Musical, Betty Blue Eyes is too American "Pearl Harbour" in feeling. - Tom Stokes
13 Sep 11
Great musical which makes you laugh and cry. Sarah Lancashire is brilliant and Reece Shearsmith has suerb comic timing. Like a cross between Victoria Wood and Spend Spend Spend, this is worth catching before it closes. - Northen Theatregower
11 Sep 11
Closing 24th Sept: The slick professionalism of Lend Me A Tenor got my attendance three times but Betty failed despite the vivid poster campaign and heavy weight hype; quite enjoyable but just too English and twee. The tertiary messages could have been stronger [sinister], just how many bubble gum shows do we need - Leggy Blondes etc? In any event it's always worrying to see good shows failing to break even; CamMac is correct in stating that in uncertain times people revert to what they know [and trust], less willing to take a punt on the unknown. It's also worth remembering the fierce competition within live entertainment and other leisure industries vying for the pound-in-the-pocket; a wonder anyone turns up at all. We can thank UK tourism the West End's international reputation for that. As for pricing: theatre-land unfathomably avoids basic marketing techniques such as 'tickets from £17.50'. I still like bacon, that's the problem. - Stevie
03 Sep 11
Even a pig of a journey home (ho ho) which brought back memories of commuting on the misery line couldn't diminish the pleasure gained from this delightful show. It's incredible how two American writers have captured and enhanced Alan Bennett's original piece of English whimsy and Stiles and Drewe have created a score which is suggestive of the period without becoming a pastiche. There may not be any stand out numbers which could have a life beyond the show but every song advances the story or reveals the inner thoughts and dreams of the characters. David Bamber and Reece Shearsmith may not have great singing voices but they are excellent actors and Shearsmith brings great charm to Gilbert. Sarah Lancashire grows into her role as the show develops and Ann Emery is very funny even if she is virtually repeating her role from Billy Elliott. This is also a very rare example of a show that is even funnier after the interval and not just because Betty herself features more prominently. Oh yes; the pig. Whilst the anamatronic is adorably cute and very cleverly constructed it is a strength of this show that it would probably be just as good even if the pig remained offstage throughout. Finally, credit to Cameron Mackintosh in these times of austerity for offering a programme and an excellent brochure for just £8.50 - other producers should take note. - David Baxter
08 Jul 11
Betty Blue Eyes is about when food was rationed and when the Queen got married. Sarah Lancanshire plays a middle class woman but wants to be obviously more. Her character reminds me of Mrs Bucket (or should I say Mrs Bouquet) from the TV show ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ and the husband reminds me of Mrs Buckets husband. Sarah was fantastic though, has a great singing voice and still looks great. The animatronic pig is fantastic. It looks so realistic and it has the most amazing blue eyes. It only sung once at the very end of the show but I wish it sang more throughout the show. The show itself was ok there was only a handful of scenes I really loved one being when two men was singing to Betty Blue Eyes telling the pig how much they love her. The other scenes I did not enjoy as much as they were trying to kill the Betty the pig and the pig made a really loud squealing noise this upset me as I love animals and did not except the scenes to be so dramatic. So for this reason I would not go back and see the show and I definitely would not recommend in taking your children to see this show as I feel that certain scenes would properly upset them. However if you are a fan of Sarah Lancashire then perhaps go along and see it as I say there is a few funny scenes. I went along to see it as I love animals and I went along to see Sarah as I think she is a good actress. - Joanne M
01 Jul 11
what a nice change to see a well crafted British musical. Beautifully staged and directed with pleaseant, hummable tunes and an undertone of social realism, this was, without doubt, the best new musical for some time. An excellent cast seemed to be enjoying themselves and so was I,not such a bad thing - RICHARD SANDLER
10 Jun 11
This is a good new musical. The cast were all great - Sarah Lancashire was outstanding.
Loved Betty! - Stuart
01 Jun 11
Utter utter rubbish. The difference between a play and a musical is this - the emotion and the material needs to be heightened to warrant the use of music. This was THE dullest pile of rubbish I have EVER sat thru - even having 6 mates in the show was not enough to make me enjoy it. Reece Sheersmith is an utter disaster. Why take a complete non singer and place him in that role? - Matthew.
26 Apr 11
Mean't to award this show 4 stars but must have clicked on 3 in error so to balance that awarding 5 this time.
Robin T - Robin Tiley
24 Apr 11
The chemistry between Sarah Lancashire and Ann Emery is magic!A breath of fresh Air in the West End,Cameron has done it again albeit on a smaller scale than usual,well done'sir'. - Mick Fiddler
19 Apr 11
After reading that vitriolic review from 'john'...everyone is entitled to their view (although I'm always a bit startled to read such bitter & cruel vitriol about something which is creative - cos people have worked hard to make something as good as they can, even if its not to a few people's liking) but can't let the comments about the actress playing Mother being too young & agile for mother go by without recourse. Ann Emery is in her early 80s;Liz Smith in her 70s when she played Mother in 'Private Function'. And how can the reviewer say the 'majority were applauding to be polite'. Utterly subjective viewpoint which the reviewer has no means of actually knowing.When reviews move into an area of such overwhelming negativity, some of the more outrageously subjective comments need to be challenged. - Scarlet
18 Apr 11
I have been theatregoing for many years and involved in amateur theatre too so know what works,what hard work is required and how much thought goes into making a successful production and this does wonderfully. Perhaps the previous reviewer had too much betty Poo to be polite in his eyes and ears after such a vitriolic outburst. Should cheer anyone up if your feeling down a real tonic. Well done all concerned! go see. - Robin T
17 Apr 11
This is a pile of Betty's poo..its a stinker, no memorable tune nor a decent voice to sing any of them, as for the songs flowing from natural scenes are you bonkers,? what domestic kitchen scene ends up with a song and dance about being a nobody in a cheap frock and 4 dancers?
Actually cheap is the operative word, this show is cheap, its a sign of the austere times we are in, its like a very poor amateur production with non- existent sets being noisely shuffled around, with stage hands visably moving props.To bulk out scenes the minimalist cast had to dress some of the men as women in certain scenes, seriously! if theyd made it amusing it might have worked.
The cast do their best but most of the leads cant sing for toffee. Reece Sheersmith is so miscast, and Sarah Lancashires Maggie Smith impression wore very thin. The worst was the Mother, who in the film is a screamingly funny Liz Smith being very doddery but lovable, this one was far too young, agile and WRONG for the role.
As a previous reviewer stated they thought it would never end, neither did I and I am a musical lover but not of this one, oh the pig is cute but its hardly seen only a few times in the second act. The kylie bit was embarrassing, only a few die hards stood at the end, the majority applauded to be polite, not many plaudits were heard on leaving the theatre...This is not a good production on many levels, the film is a cult fun fest with wonderful acting and hilarious set pieces this was all lost in this production, the original should not have been tampered with..
17 Apr 11
At long last a great British Musical and much better than that over hyped rubbish Billy Elliot. A great cast led by the adorable Betty, all singing dancing Sarah Lancashire and the excellent Reece Sheersmith. Adrian Scarborough as the meat inspector is great fun. I hummed the Betty Blue Eyes song all the way home. A great night out at the theatre. - Ils
14 Apr 11
A wonderful night out, terrific ensemble and - for once - a show based on a film that feels like a true original. Long may it reign. - dgr1
14 Apr 11
I've seen 'Betty Blue Eyes' twice in previews & was blown away by how good it was. Its quite simply the best show I've seen in absolute ages & succeeds on so many levels.
Its a musical play rather than a straightforward musical. A few people have made the criticism that some of the actors don't 'sing' that well. That is a ridiculous thing to say as this is a show with emphasis firmly on character and story. These are what make 'Betty' the wonderful show it is. The actors are performing the songs, not merely 'singing' them & are there to convey emotion & motivation of the character. This is what is needed in a musical like this, not the blandly assured singing of a professional singer with as much emotional depth as a melted ice cube. Its a play with music, a musical comedy with the emphasis on comedy & character.
Its funny, sweet with an emotional depth & pools of feeling & compassion for its main characters than you'd normally expect or usually get in a musical. I think the show is touched by genius.
The songs are brilliant - beautiful melodies & witty lyrics - with a lovely pastoral lilt to many of them. The choreography is amazing (Stephen Mears is a genius). The cast is outstanding - some great dancing & some fantastic ensemble singing.
Sarah Lancashire is wonderful & really commands the stage - she is a warmer, more sympathetic Joyce than Maggie Smith in the film. You get to understand what motivates her & why she is the way she is. Her performance of 'Nobody' is a highlight of Act 1. Ann Emery is brilliant, Adrian Scarborough superb.
For me its Reece Shearsmith who steals the show. He is a brilliant actor & he is perfect as Gilbert Chilvers - he makes the role his own! He gives a beautiful, touching performance & gives the show its heart. Its a moving, deeply felt piece of acting. The depth of emotion he puts across in 'The Kind of Man I Am' in Act 2 is amazing. He has such deft comic timing too.
Betty is lovely & used just the right amount of times in the show.
'Betty Blue Eyes' is such a fantastic show - with so many elements working brilliantly together & the creative forces behind the show at the top of their game. It made me laugh, cry & touched my heart - what more could you want from a night at the theatre.
If a show as good as this can't succeed then shame on West End theatregoers! It deserves to be a massive success. - Scarlet
14 Apr 11
Why are critics so desperate to compare shows to Billy Elliot? It seems not long ago that Matilda in Stratford was given the same heading. Can't they just be original and celebrated for that? Betty is nothing like Billy Elliot except for the fact it stars Ann Emery. - Stuart Grainger
14 Apr 11
i loved this show - really cheered me up - mark
14 Apr 11
A brilliant new show, Saw it in the previews and felt that this show should be a success and be in the West End for many years. It is fun, great cast and good songs and as for the Pig--well who can't fall under its' spell. I must say that Sarah Lancashire was really superb--a true leading lady of the stage and never knew she had such a good singing voice--she commanded the stage when she was on. Also loved Reece and the always good Adrian Scarborough but the whole ensemble did the story proud. A great night out and think this could be another Legally Blonde--a great success - Joe Spiteri
14 Apr 11
Well, well what can one say it's a Richard Eyre musical (I think one of his has worked) it is not very good I am sorry to say.
We have casting of 2/3 leading men who can not sing!
Miss Lancashire saves the day but is also asked to play her wife cold and a snob so we are left to think why is Reece with her at all and it means we feel nothing for them at the end.
There is far too much just watching old movie news and the two songs that work are 'dream' numbers.
The pig is fun but does not appear enough.
This is 'not' a great British musical no. - petersouth
14 Apr 11
An absolute gem!
I loved every minute of it, true Sarah Lancashire has the star turn, but Reece Shearsmith & everybody else work really hard.
The comic timing of all concerned is great.
A true GREAT British musical
- Steve Cox
12 Apr 11
I note the mixed reviews so far, I certainly go with the more positive views. There is much to like in this show, which is full of good humour and sometimes hilarious fun. The cast are all excellent particularly Sarah Lancashire who has real star quality. The music is clever witty and tuneful without ever being show stoppingly hummable.
This show is different and quirky and could be just the tonic to brighten things up at the current time.
Betty the pig is great!
An evening of real pleasure at last a British musical that we can be proud of. Go see it if you like musicals that really are funny as well. - Chris
11 Apr 11
Time to reach for the superlatives thesaurus…..
This musical comedy is based on Alan Bennett’s film A Private Function which featured Maggie Smith & Michael Palin (that’s three national treasures in one sentence!). It’s set in post-war Britain, with rationing still in place and a royal wedding about to take place (sounds familiar?). The (mildly) corrupt local councilors and businessmen are fattening an illicit pig for a banquet to mark the occasion whilst normal folk (this is ‘up north’ after all) can’t even get a pork chop, partly due to an eager meat inspector who keeps closing down the butchers. It’s pretty faithful to the film (though it’s a long time since I saw it last) with the notable exception of the ending.
I can’t remember the last time I laughed and smiled so much at a musical. Americans Ron Cowan & Daniel Lipman have produced a thoroughly British and extremely funny book perfectly matched by Anthony Drew’s deliciously witty lyrics. George Stiles music is also thoroughly British – but also completely infectious (copious whistles from the audience as they left the theatre). Richard Eyre hasn’t directed that many musicals but his staging for this one is up there with his Olivier Guys & Dolls, still the definitive production of this show, this time with the benefit of Stephen Mears’ witty choreography – yes witty choreography! Tim Hatley’s simple sets allow the show to zip along.
You’d have thought Sarah Lancashire has spent her whole life on a West End stage, such is her confidence and presence, with knowing smiles that seem to be directed to you personally – but it’s actually only her third time in the West End. She has a great voice, moves fluidly with such grace and you just fall in love with her within minutes - for me, she’s got the 2011 awards in the bag already. One of those slips of paper fell out of the programme as we entered – leading man Reece Shearsmith wasn’t performing and it was to be understudy Neill Ditt first performance. Well, I refuse to believe Shearsmith is better; apart from a few minor glitches and with some discreet help from his colleagues, he delivered an extraordinary performance of great charm and distinction that perfectly matched his leading lady. This must surely be his career high – and he got the biggest ovation of the night!
Singling out others in this wonderful company is going to be tough, but I have to mention octogenarian Ann Emery delivering another gem to match her grandma in Billy Elliott, Adrian Scarborough’s delicious cartoon baddie meat inspector, Jack Edwards great turn as pig loving Allardyce and another brilliant baddie from David Bamber as local doctor and head of the council.
I’ve waited twenty years (since Just So at the Tricycle) for Stiles & Drew’s masterpiece and here it is. I consider Billy Elliott the greatest British musical of all time; I think this might be this is the greatest British musical comedy of all time. Though apparently not intentional, the timing of the opening couldn’t have been better and Cameron Mackintosh has a stonking great big hit on his hands. I’ve booked to go back and I’m already seriously over-excited. Bliss. - Gareth James
09 Apr 11
shame they decided to make into a musical the songs are very forgetable the plot not much better, Sarah Lancashire is the only bright spot of the evening but is fighting a losing battle,I cant see it running for long a dissapointing evening - ALAN FOWLER
08 Apr 11
Fab show - loved the story and it had lots of great songs and what a huge wonderful surprise in Sarah Lancashire....she was terrific
A lively entertaining evening - Bryony Hordern
08 Apr 11
The show starts with a newsreel about austerity and an impending royal wedding. Sound familiar? Perhaps a hook to draw audiences in, but this in fact is post World War 2. Betty Blue Eyes, based on A Private Function is not a story that lends itself to musicalisation. The plot is weak, the lyrics are basic and the songs forgetable. Whilst there is some real effort put into the staging and notably Betty herself, I fear this is all style over substance. As for the cast, the likes of Adrian Scarborough and David Bamber deserve better than this, Ann Amery has taken her Billy Elliot character and repeated it here, Reece Sheersmith is too weak and whilst Sarah Lancashire does her best, there is little to work with here. I fear this pig will be for the chop sooner rather than later! - Paul Wallis
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