Abigail Parties on to West End's Whitehall After AbbaDate: 4 March 2003
The 25th anniversary revival of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party is readying for another transfer. The comedy - mounted last summer at Hampstead Theatre where it was first devised a quarter of a century ago - transferred to the West End's New Ambassadors Theatre on 9 December 2002 (previews from 3 December). After it finishes there, making way for Off-Broadway hit The Bomb-itty of Errors, it will move on to the Whitehall Theatre, where it reopens on 9 April and is currently booking to 23 August 2003.
The return of Abigail's Party marked the final production in Hampstead's "temporary" building. The theatre has now been moved into a new, purpose-built £15.6 million facility around the corner, where the first main house production, Tim Firth's The Safari Party, opens this week.
Directed by David Grindley, Abigail's Party stars Elizabeth Berrington as excruciating hostess Beverley, the part originated by Mike Leigh's ex-wife Alison Steadman. Berrington is joined in the cast by Rosie Cavaliere (as Angela), Wendy Nottingham (Sue), Jeremy Swift (Laurence), and Steffan Rhodri (Tony).
After its original Hampstead premiere in 1977, Leigh's multi award-winning social satire about the pretensions of the nouveau middle class, was filmed as a BBC Play for Today and became a cult hit, spawning productions all over the world. It is now a GCSE set text. The current production was nominated for Best Play Revival in both the Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Awards this year.
The Bomb-itty of Errors - the off-Broadway hip-hop version of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors that was an award-winning hit at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival - is scheduled for a limited run at the New Ambassadors from 7 May to 12 July 2003, following previews from 24 April (See News, 20 Dec 2002). At the Whitehall, Abigail's Party replaces karaoke concert show Sing-a-long-a ABBA, which finishes its extended season on 5 April 2003.
- by Terri Paddock