As previously tipped (See The Goss, 24 Jun 2003), the new Jazz Age musical about F Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda will come to the West End this spring. Following a three-week try-out at Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud Theatre last June (See News, 2 May 2003), The Beautiful and the Damned will open on 6 May 2004 (previews from 26 April) at the West End’s Lyric Theatre, where it will initially be booking for 16 weeks.

"Scott and Zelda" were the most glamorous couple of the Roaring Twenties. Scott, the successful author of novels including The Great Gatsby, and his fashionable artist wife lived the ultimate globe-trotting, party-going, big-spending high life. But for all the glamour, there was also abundant tragedy, including alcoholism, insanity, incarceration, poverty and untimely deaths for them both.

The Beautiful and the Damned is the brainchild of singer and songwriter Roger Cook, who originally had the idea in 1977. The resulting musical has been more than ten years in the making. It has music and lyrics by Cook and Les Reed, with a book by Kit Hesketh Harvey and additional material by Phil Willmott, who also directed it at Guildford.

A show spokesperson told that the musical has changed substantially since last year’s try-out, with “massive cuts” made to the book, included the removal of some lesser characters.

Casting for the West End season has not yet been confirmed. At Guildford, Scott and Zelda were played by John Barrowman – now tied up again with Anything Goes at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, for which he’s been nominated for this year’s Award for Best Actor in a Musical (click here to vote – closes 31 January!) – and Helen Anker, who’s just finished in A Chorus Line at Sheffield Crucible.

The Beautiful and the Damned is dedicated to Zelda and produced by Laurence Myers in association with Charles and Mary Dobson. Currently at the Lyric, Guy Retallack’s revival of David Hare’s 1988 play The Secret Rapture is booking up to 21 February 2004, having opened on 26 November 2003 (previews from 17 November).

- by Terri Paddock