West End Hits Abigail, Vincent & Rocky Hit the RoadDate: 6 August 2003
Several recent West End successes - the 25th anniversary revival of Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party, Nicholas Wright's Vincent in Brixton and the 30th birthday production of Richard O'Brien's cult musical The Rocky Horror Show - will launch regional tours over the coming months.
The anniversary revival of Abigail's Party was first seen in Bath for a week in July 2002, before transferring to mark the final production at the old Hampstead Theatre, where the play was first seen in 1977 and where the new production ran from July to September and then returned for an additional month from October 2002. It then transferred to the West End's New Ambassadors Theatre from 3 December 2002 to 5 April 2003, moving to the nearby Whitehall from 9 April to 12 July 2003.
Directed by David Grindley, the 1970s-set social satire has been recast for its regional dates with Lizzy McInnerney playing excruciating hostess Beverley, the part originated by Mike Leigh's ex-wife Alison Steadman. She's joined by Huw Higginson (as Laurence), Liz Crowther (Sue), Elizabeth Hopley (Ange) and Simon Wilson (Tony).
The tour of Abigail's Party opens at Birmingham Rep on 25 August 2003 before continuing its 11-venue schedule to Richmond, Stoke-on-Trent, Poole, Brighton, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Manchester, Canterbury, Edinburgh, Guildford and Westcliff-on-Sea, where it concludes on 29 November 2003.
Richard Eyre's award-winning National Theatre production of Nicholas Wright's Vincent in Brixton - currently at the West End's Playhouse Theatre, where it opened on 10 July 2003 (previews from 8 July) and continues to 30 August - will launch its own three-month tour at Milton Keynes on 1 September 2003.
A fictitious love story based on the true facts of painter Vincent Van Gogh's early life in London in the 19th century, Vincent in Brixton had its world premiere at the NT Cottesloe in May 2002. It then had a three-month autumn 2002 season at the West End's Wyndham's Theatre, before transferring to Broadway for two months this past spring.
Many of the production's accolades were directed at its stars Clare Higgins, playing widow Ursula Loyer, who scooped a hat trick of Best Actress honours at the Evening Standard, Critics Circle and Olivier awards, and the Dutch actor playing Van Gogh, Jochum ten Haaf, who was nominated for numerous newcomer prizes, including the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Award for London Newcomer of the Year.
Following Milton Keynes, Vincent in Brixton calls at Bromley, Brighton, Glasgow, Woking, Warwick, Edinburgh, Belfast, Stoke-on-Trent, Oxford and Richmond, where it finishes its current schedule concludes on 29 November 2003.
Sci-fi cult classic The Rocky Horror Show touched down briefly in the West End to mark its 30th birthday - running at the Queen's Theatre from 23 June to 5 July 2003 - and opens another leg of an ongoing UK tour in October.
Inspired by Richard O'Brien's childhood love of schlock sci-fi films, the original Rocky Horror premiered at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in 1973 and later spawned the 1975 cult film (starring Susan Sarandon, Tim Curry and Meatloaf) as well as countless revivals. The score includes "Sweet Transvestite," "Damn It Janet" and "Time Warp". O'Brien is now preparing a long-awaited sequel to the show (See The Goss, 15 Apr 2002).
The revival is directed by Christopher Malcolm, who starred as Brad in the original Royal Court production. The 30th anniversary tour, initially launched in September 2002, resumes on 6 October 2003 at Bromley's Churchill Theatre before continuing until 15 November to Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Woking and Stoke-on-Trent, with further dates expected.
Meanwhile, John Godber's ever-popular, on-the-town comedy Bouncers has recently opened a new touring schedule. Now starring John Altman (EastEnders and, on stage, Chicago) and Nigel Pivaro (Coronation Street), it's in Richmond this week, after which it continues to Glasgow, Billingham, Woking, Hastings, Milton Keynes, York, Grimsby, Cheltenham, Brighton, Salford, Sunderland, Torquay, Aberdeen and Birmingham, where it also completes on 29 November.
- by Terri Paddock