Pet Shop Boys' Musical Heaven Extends to 2002Date: 3 July 2001
Despite mixed reviews, the new Pet Shop Boys-Jonathan Harvey musical, Closer to Heaven, has announced a four-and-a-half month extension in the West End. Closer to Heaven opened at the 350-seat Arts Theatre on 31 May 2001 (previews from 15 May) and had been booking to 8 September 2001. The box office is now taking bookings up to 2 February 2002.
The modern musical, set in London's clubland, stars Frances Barber and Paul Keating. Straight Dave - who is young, sexy and fresh from Ireland - falls for beautiful, ambitious Shell, and streetwise drug dealer, Mile End Lee. Billie Tricks, 1970s rock icon and now hostess of a glitzy London nightclub, is there when they need to turn to "mother". Meanwhile, the outrageous Bob Saunders, pop manager extraordinaire, has his own plans for Dave. As fame and fortune beckon, Dave quickly learns that things aren't always as straightforward as they seem.
Frances Barber plays Billie Tricks. Barber's many stage credits for the National, the RSC, the Royal Court and in the West End include Closer, Uncle Vanya, Insignificance, Imagine Drowning, My Heart's a Suitcase, Night of the Iguana and Camille, for which she won an Olivier Award for Most Promising Newcomer.
Paul Keating, who plays Straight Dave, received an Olivier Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical for the 1996 production of Tommy (Shaftesbury Theatre). His other stage credits include La Cava, Les Miserables, Lost in Yonkers, Boyband and Assasins.
Barber and Keating are joined in the Closer to Heaven cast by David Burt (Vic Christian), Stacey Roca (Shell Christian), Paul Broughton (Saunders), David Langham (Flynn) and Tom Walker (Mile End Lee). Also in the cast are Jo Cavanagh, Aklya Henry, C Jay Ranger, Mark John Richardson, Richard Roe, Louie Spence, Mark Stanway, Amanda Valentine and Marcos White.
The book for Closer to Heaven is by Jonathan Harvey, whose plays include Beautiful Thing, Guiding Star and Out in the Open. The music and lyrics are by Neil Tennant and Chris Love, aka the Pet Shop Boys, the most successful pop duo in British chart history who have sold over 28 million albums worldwide. Their number one hits include "West End Girls" and "It's a Sin".
Closer to Heaven is directed by Gemma Bodinetz who also directed Harvey's 1998 Hillsborough drama, Guiding Star, in Liverpool and at the National. Her other credits include Breath, Boom (Royal Court), Dead Funny (tour), Chimps and Paper Husband (Hampstead). The musical is choreographed by Peter Darling and designed by Simon Baker with lighting by Mark Henderson, sound by Simon Baker and musical supervision by Chris Nightingale.
- by Terri Paddock