The Royal Albert Hall received its first fully-staged musical last night (13 June 2006) in the form of Francesca Zambello’s massive new in-the-round production of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s 1927 Broadway classic Kern’s Show Boat (See News, 8 Dec 2005).

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Amongst those attending the landmark performance at the 4,500-seat Royal Albert Hall were chef Jamie Oliver, pop star Sinitta, former Goodie Tim Brooke-Taylor, Dexter Fletcher, Timothy West, Rula Lenska, Lesley Joseph, Kwame Kwei-Armah and current Phantom Earl Carpenter.

For 1st Night Photos, our Whatsonstage.com photographer was on hand at last night’s opening night party at the historic South Kensington venue, which was also attended by invited guests as well as stars John Owen Jones, Rebecca Thornhill, Elena Shaddow, Angela Simpson, Jenny Galloway, director Zambello, producer Raymond Gubbay and other members of the Show Boat company.

Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, Show Boat follows the lives and loves of a Mississippi riverboat-based song and dance troupe. The musical broke new ground when it premiered on Broadway in 1927, dealing with racial prejudice, miscegenation, poverty and marital abandonment. Zambello’s revival continues its limited season until 25 June 2006 only.

-by Terri Paddock