New Cast Party with Abigail in Whitehall TransferDate: 19 March 2003
A new cast has been invited to the 25th anniversary revival of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party when its move to its second West End home next month. On 5 April 2003, the comedy finishes its run at the New Ambassadors Theatre, where it opened on 9 December 2002 (previews from 3 December), and then transfers to the Whitehall Theatre, where it reopens on 9 April and is currently booking to 23 August 2003 (See News, 3 Mar 2003).
The production was originally mounted last summer at Hampstead Theatre where it was first devised a quarter of a century ago. 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, has recently opened.
At the Whitehall, Elizabeth Berrington remains as excruciating hostess Beverley, but she's joined by an all-new bevy of party guests with Philip Bird (as Laurence), Amelda Brown (Sue), Elizabeth Chadwick (Angela) and Jake Wood (Tony). They take over from, respectively, Jeremy Swift, Wendy Nottingham, Rosie Cavaliero and Steffan Rhodri.
After its original Hampstead premiere in 1977, Leigh's multi-award 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 anniversary revival of Abigail's Party is directed by David Grindley and designed by Jonathan Fensom, with lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Gregory Clarke. It's presented in the West End by Theatre Royal Bath Productions, Hampstead Theatre and Lee Dean, in association with ATG.
At the New Ambassadors, it will be succeeded by 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 which is scheduled for a limited season 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