Beautiful Game Premieres Tonight, 26 SepDate: 26 September 2000
The long-awaited collaboration between Lloyd Webber and playwright-comedian-novelist Ben Elton concerns an amateur football team in Northern Ireland during the worst of the Troubles. Del and John, both members of the team, have enough talent to make it big. Their girlfriends are dreaming about the future, fearful of the way their world is changing. They all yearn for peace in a time of bigotry and intolerance.
The germ of the idea for The Beautiful Game is based in truth - in 1969, there was such an Irish football team of enormous promise, but its potential was never fully realised due to the sectarian conflicts. Contrary to earlier reports that the show was based on the life of IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands, however, producers stress that the characters in The Beautiful Game are entirely fictional and that the Belfast setting serves merely 'as a metaphor for conflict across the world'.
The cast for the musical is comprised of young and largely unknown actors. Ben Goddard stars as Del, Jamie Golding as Daniel, Frank Grimes as Father O'Donnell, Dale Meeks as Ginger, Michael Shaeffer as Thomas, David Shannon as John, Alex Sharpe as Bernadette, Hannah Waddingham as Christine and Josie Walker as Mary. Also in the cast are Jonathan Ball, Michael Bernardin, Keith Bookman, Sally Bourne, James Bowden, Jenna Boyd, Kevin Cregan, Shonagh Daly, Nic Greenshields, Ben Heathcote, Mark Hilton, Michele Hooper, Simon Humphrey, Christopher Key, David Lyons, Grant Murphy, Kelly O'Leary, Diane Pilkington, Greta Rochford, Andrew Spillett, Alessandro Splendore, Paul Tarling and Hannah Tollman.
The Beautiful Game features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Ben Elton. The musical is directed by Robert Carsen, choreographed by Meryl Tankard and designed by Michael Levine, with costumes by Joan Bergin, lighting by Jean Kalman, sound by Martin Levan, musical supervision by Simon Lee, musical direction by Kennedy Aitchison and orchestrations by Lloyd Webber and David Cullen.