It will now close six weeks earlier on 12 July 2003, ahead of a planned regional tour. At the Whitehall, the karaoke concert show Sing-a-long-a ABBA, which made way for Leigh's play in April, is expected to return for another limited season.
Last summer, the return of Abigail's Party marked the final production at Hampstead Theatre's "temporary" building in north London, where the company has since moved into a new, purpose-built £15.6 million facility around the corner.
A co-production with Theatre Royal Bath, the anniversary revival of Abigail's Party was first seen in Bath for a week in July 2002, before transferring to Hampstead, where it ran from July to September and then returned for an additional month from October 2002. The production transferred to the West End's New Ambassadors Theatre from 3 December 2002 to 5 April 2003, moving to the Whitehall from 9 April.
Directed by David Grindley, the cast at the Whitehall continues to star Elizabeth Berrington as excruciating hostess Beverley, the part originated by Mike Leigh's ex-wife Alison Steadman. She's joined by Philip Bird (as Laurence), Amelda Brown (Sue), Elizabeth Chadwick (Angela) and Jake Wood (Tony), who took over from, respectively, Jeremy Swift, Wendy Nottingham, Rosie Cavaliero and Steffan Rhodri.
After its original Hampstead premiere in 1977, Leigh's multi-award winning social satire about the pretensions of the nouveau middle class, was filmed as a BBC Play for Today and became a cult hit, spawning productions all over the world. It is now a GCSE set text. The current production was nominated for Best Play Revival in both the Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Awards this year.
- by Terri Paddock