Though no London venue or dates have yet been announced, producers of Glorious, starring Maureen Lipman (pictured) as the “worst singer in the world”, have confirmed that the new Peter Quilter comedy will arrive in the West End at the end of October 2005 (See News, 2 Mar 2005). The play premieres at Birmingham Rep on 2 September and then embarks on a five-week regional tour ahead of its West End transfer.

Based on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, Glorious tells the true story of the eccentric American otherwise known as the “socialite soprano”. During the 1930s and ‘40s, the somewhat delusional singer made a career out of doing concerts, although she couldn't hit a single note. The “dire diva of din” recorded many records, including one entitled Murder on the High Cs and perhaps her most famous recording of Mozart's Queen of the Night aria. After doing a series of private concerts at the Ritz Carlton in New York, the singer braved Carnegie Hall - and sold out months in advance.

It won’t be the first time Lipman has trod the boards in tribute to late, great, real-life ladies. Her one-woman show Re-Joyce! was about Joyce Grenfell and in Alan Plater’s 2000 play Peggy for You, she played the dramatists agent Peggy Ramsay. She was most recently seen in the West End in Aladdin, opposite Ian McKellen at the Old Vic, and the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Shaftesbury.

Lipman’s other West End credits include Oklahoma!, The Cabinet Minister, Lost in Yonkers and The Sisters Rosensweig. She’s also well known for her TV appearances, not least as Beattie in the long-running British Telecom commercials, as well as her novels and magazine columns.

In the Glorious cast, Lipman will be joined by Barrie Ingham, Josie Kidd, Lolly Susi, Janie Booth and William Oxborrow. Glorious runs in Birmingham from 2 to 17 September 2005 and then visits Newcastle, Malvern, Richmond, Glasgow and Bath, where its regional schedule concludes on 22 October. The premiere production is directed by Alan Strachan and produced on tour and in London by Michael Codron and Lee Dean by arrangement with Birmingham Rep.

Glorious will be the latest in a string of Birmingham Rep productions that have transferred to the West End in recent years, including Of Mice and Men, Fuddy Meers, The Old Masters, Roald Dahl’s The Witches, The Birthday Party and, currently at the Garrick Theatre, Kwame Kwei-Armah’s Elmina's Kitchen.

- by Terri Paddock