After its premiere season at west London’s Bush Theatre, Steve Thompson’s new political comedy Whipping It Up transferred last night (1 March 2007, previews from 22 February) to the West End’s New Ambassadors theatre, along with original stars Richard Wilson and Robert Bathurst (See Today’s WOS TV).

It's a week before Christmas, and the new Tory government is facing dissent over its latest bill. With a majority of only three, the Whip's office is out in full force, and they'll stop at nothing to keep the strays in line. But they're in for a long night: boy scouts are rioting in Whitehall, the PM's golfing with the President, five Tory rebels are on the loose and the Chief Whip's playing at Santa. Could this be the beginnings of a leadership challenge?

Wilson and Bathurst are joined in the cast by Lee Ross, Nicholas Rowe, Helen Schlesinger (Best Supporting Actress in this year’s Theatregoers’ Choice Awards for The Crucible) and Kellie Bright.

The political satire premiered in November at west London’s 100-seat Bush Theatre (See News, 12 Jul 2006), where it had an extended, sell-out pre-Christmas run and was nominated for Best New Comedy in the Awards. In the West End, it’s directed by Tamara Harvey, after the original production by Terry Johnson, designed by Tim Shortall and presented by ACT Productions, Matthew Byam Shaw, Mark Goucher, Lee Menzies and Wimpole Theatre.

For 1st Night Photos, we’ve gathered a selection of shots from the Whipping It Up opening night party at the Long Acre and production shots of the cast in action on stage. We also covered last night’s opening on TV, including interviews with the company as well as Jon Snow, Andrew Marr, Jeffrey Archer, Ronnie Corbett, Mel Kenyon and Rome star James Purefoy (click here for our exclusive TV footage).


Newsreader Jon Snow & Baroness Amos (former Whip, now leader of the House of Lords,
who was the first black woman to sit in the Cabinet)
Ronnie Corbett
Cast members Richard Wilson, Kellie Bright & Robert Bathurst


Lee Ross & Richard Wilson (Junior Whip & Chief Whip)
Robert Bathurst (Deputy Chief Whip)
The entire cast: Nicholas Rowe, Robert Bathurst & Lee Ross (back);
Kellie Bright, Richard Wilson & Helen Schlesinger (front)