Hard Times & Busy Day Post Closing NoticesDate: 16 August 2000
Two West End shows have announced early closings this week. The new musical Hard Times will close at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket on 26 August 2000 while Fanny Burney's Regency comedy, A Busy Day, will finish its run at the Lyric Theatre on 2 September 2000.
Only last month, Hard Times, based loosely on Charles Dickens' 1854 novel, announced an extension to 25 November. But the show got off to a shaky start, which, evidently, proved harder to overcome than anticipated. When it arrived in the West End after a four-week run in Windsor, it was greeted with mixed reviews by London critics, many of whom found it old-fashioned. In the opening week, it struggled with half-full houses and sickness. One evening performance was halted at the interval because star Roy Hudd was suffering from laryngitis and the under-study had not been thoroughly rehearsed.
Hard Times tells the story of Mr Sleary's Travelling Circus and its impact on a small industrial town, played against the tyranny of local school owner and MP Thomas Gradgrind who callously uses his own children to secure his social standing. Actor, writer and mountaineer Brian Blessed stars as Gradgrind with comedian Hudd as Mr Sleary.
Hard Times, which features original music and lyrics by Christopher Tookey, opened at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket on 6 June, following previews from 22 May. Initially, it had been booking to 4 August, but last month producers extended the booking period to 25 November. It will now close on 26 August after a run of 12 weeks.
A Busy Day marks the West End debut of 18th-century diarist Fanny Burney. Burney was one of the most famous diarists of her time, ranking alongside Samuel Pepys. She remains a rich source for historians and others looking for period detail.
Her period comedy, set in London during the Regency, wryly depicts the St James Street clubs, salons and ballrooms of the capital as it was beginning to come to terms with the new wealth in the City and emerging revolutionary ideas of social equality. The play was 'lost' until the 1980s when it came to light with the discovery of Burney's husband's papers in the United States. This is its first major production.
A Busy Day - starring Stephanie Beacham, Sara Crowe, John McCallum and Ben Moor - is directed by Jonathan Church, with design by Ruari Murchison, music by John O'Hara and lighting by Nick Beadle. It opened at the Lyric Theatre on 19 June, following previews from 7 June, and had been booking to 7 October. It will now close on 2 September 2000 after a run of 11 weeks.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame de Paris, which was roundly panned by critics, appears to be bucking the trend. The musical, based on Victor Hugo's classic novel about a hunchback who dwells in the bell tower of Notre Dame cathedral and falls in love with a gypsy girl, opened at the Dominion Theatre on 23 May, following previews from 15 May. It had been booking to 28 October 2000 but is now taking bookings up to 31 March 2001.