80-year-old Golden Girl Bea Makes West End DebutDate: 26 June 2003
Bea Arthur will make her West End stage debut this autumn at the age of 80. The veteran American actress - best known to UK audiences for the 1980s' television sitcom Golden Girls - brings her acclaimed solo show to the Savoy Theatre. Retitled Bea Arthur at the Savoy, it will have a limited five week season from 15 September to 18 October 2003 (previews from 12 September).
Similar to Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which brought the then 76-year-old Stritch to the West End via Broadway last autumn, Bea Arthur at the Savoy takes an acerbic view of life, recalling the trials and tribulations of its star's various career, interwoven with songs.
Arthur took her revue (then called on And Then There's Bea) on a nationwide tour of the US in 2001. Earlier this year, she reprised the piece for an extended season at Broadway's Booth Theater, where it was titled Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends (pictured). In the show, Arthur is accompanied at the piano by her musical director, Billy Goldenberg, the multi-award winning composer of the musical Ballroom who devised the show with Arthur.
In addition to Golden Girls, in which she played Florida retiree Dorothy, Arthur's many well-known American television credits include All in the Family and its spin-off Maude in the 1970s, as well as various specials such as 1980s The Beatrice Arthur Special. On stage, most notably, she appeared opposite Angela Lansbury in 1966 in the original Broadway production of the musical Mame (later appearing in the 1974 screen version).
Bea Arthur at the Savoy was created in collaboration with Charles Randolf Wright, Mark Waldrop and Richard Maltby Jr. It's presented in the West End by Karl Sydow, David Aukin, Pieter Toerien and Act Productions.
- by Terri Paddock