The World War I musical kicked off an 11-stop national tour in March of this year in a specially designed, 700-seat circus tent. The unique venue was chosen due to a condition set by Littlewood when granting rights to the production - that it should not be staged in a building and particularly not the RNT building itself. When the show came to London for the first time, the big top was erected on a site adjacent to the RNT complex. Director Fiona Laird also felt that the tent was conducive to the cabaret nature of the show.
The original tour schedule ended 20 June 1998. The new run this month features some new cast members and, of course, a new venue with solid walls and roof. A spokesman for the RNT told What's On Stage that conditions regarding the venue had been relaxed for a number of practical reasons. First, the availability of a site in central London on which to pitch a circus tent for an extended run were limited. Second, the inclement weather of the summer to date posed some problems for staging and company morale. And lastly, The Roundhouse possessed a strong 'curiosity factor' as a venue and goes a long way, in its construction, to recreating the atmosphere of the tent.
Oh What a Lovely War follows the fortunes of new recruits who joined the army in 1914 for an experience from which many never returned. It features now classic songs such as 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary', 'Keep the Home Fires Burning' and 'Row, Row, Row'.
The production is directed by Fiona Laird, with musical direction and arrangements by Neil McArthur, design by Tom Piper and lighting by Ian Scott. Richard Henders, Rebecca Lock, Paul J Medford, Dominic McHale, Mark Oxtoby, Rachel Spry and Luke Williams join the 15-strong ensemble cast which also features David Arneil, Clive Haywood, Dean Lennox Kelly, Karl Morgan, Jackie Morrison, Elizabeth Renihan, Kraig Thornber and Nicholas Tigg.
Prior to London, the show visited Swanley, Thurrock, Milton Keynes, Brecon, Telford, Dewsbury, Chester, Aberdeen, Salisbury and Nottingham. The run at The Roundhouse is currently booking to 4 October 1998.