The Pet Shop Boys, consisting of Lowe and Neil Tennant, have had 38 top 40 singles in the UK - including four number ones, "West End Girls", "It's a Sin", "Always on my Mind" and "Heart" - since 1986. The Pet Shop Boys’ latest album, “Fundamental”, was released on 22 May 2006 and reached number five in the UK album charts.
Lowe is no stranger to writing for the stage, as a musical featuring 15 new Pet Shop Boys tracks, Closer to Heaven, co-written with the duo and Jonathan Harvey (Beautiful Thing), ran at the West End’s Arts Theatre for five months in 2001. Lowe’s song for Bent, which has lyrics by Sherman, is the only song in the play, although the drama will also feature some classical incidental music.
Meanwhile, casting for Bent is now complete. Joining the previously announced Alan Cumming, Richard Bremmer, Hugh Ross, Kevin Trainor, Benjamin Wilkin, Ricky Champ, Charles Mayer, Matthew Spencer and Laurence Spellman, is Chris New, who has just graduated from RADA and will make his debut in the piece.
In Nazi Germany, homosexual Max (Alan Cumming) is sent to Dachau, his lover killed en route. At the concentration camp, he denies being gay, preferring to wear the yellow star of the Jews, but when he falls in love with fellow prisoner Horst, he must make a stand. Chris New will star as Horst.
Producer Sonia Friedman said: "Obviously it is a risk to give a leading role to an actor who is making their professional stage debut but Daniel (Kramer, Director) and Martin (Sherman, writer) met with Chris several times. They knew it would be hard to convince me to offer Chris the part, however I eventually met him and saw him audition for the role and he was mind-blowingly good. I knew at that point I had lost my argument!"
Bent was first seen in London in 1979 at the Royal Court, starring Ian McKellen and transferring to the West End. The 1980 Broadway premiere was led by Richard Gere as Max, a part played by Clive Owen in the 1997 film, which had music by Philip Glass. Kramer’s revival of Bent is designed by Robin Don with costumes by Mark Bouman. It’s presented by Sonia Friedman Productions, Mark Rubinstein and Tulbart Productions.
- by Caroline Ansdell