The 30th anniversary revival of Pam Gems’ 1978 bio-play Piaf, starring Argentine actress Elena Roger (pictured) as the French icon Edith Piaf, will transfer to the 690-seat Vaudeville Theatre for 14 weeks from 21 October 2008 (previews from 16 October) to 24 January 2009, following its current six-week, sell-out season at the Donmar’s 250-seat Covent Garden home base (See 1st Night Photos, 14 Aug 2008).
Roger made her West End debut in 2006 playing another 20th-century female icon, fellow Argentine Eva Peron, in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Evita, directed at the Adelphi Theatre by Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage, whose associate at the time, Jamie Lloyd, now helms Piaf.
Piaf was born in Paris in December 1919 and – after a short tragic life, scarred by abandonment, drink and drugs addiction – she died on 10 October 1963, aged just 43. She is best remembered for her torch song classics including “La vie en rose” – which provided the title for the recent Oscar-winning movie about her life – “Milord”, “Hyme a l’amour” and “Non, je ne regrette rien”, which Roger sings in French in the stage show.
Gems’ play was first staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the same address (pre-Donmar days, when the space was known as the Warehouse), starring Jane Lapotaire in the title role, and revived in the West End in 1993 with Elaine Paige (who, coincidentally, also preceded Elena Roger in the Peron role). In the new Donmar production, Roger is joined in the cast by Shane Attwooll, Phillip Browne, Lorraine Bruce, Luke Evans, Michael Hadley, Katherine Kingsley, Leon Lopez and Steve John Shepherd.
Commenting on the transfer, Michael Grandage said today: “I am delighted that the Donmar\'s production of Piaf is transferring to the West End. We are enormously proud of it and particularly pleased that all the people who were unable to see it at the Donmar will now have an opportunity to catch it in its limited run at the Vaudeville Theatre.”
Tickets for the original run sold out though ten day seats and up to 20 standing spaces have been held back daily for each performance. Similarly, for every performance at the Vaudeville, 20 tickets will be made available at just £10, going on sale daily from the box office at 10am. Piaf opened at the Donmar on 13 August 2008 (previews from 7 August) and continues there until 20 September 2008 before transferring.
Piaf is presented in the West End by Arielle Tepper Madover and CMP Limited. The production that preceded it at the Donmar Warehouse, Michael Grandage’s revival of Enid Bagnold’s The Chalk Garden, starring Penelope Wilton and Margaret Tyzack, has also been tipped for transfer (See The Goss, 28 Aug 2008).
Currently at the Vaudeville, Joanna Murray-Smith’s feminist comedy that has so riled Germaine Greer - The Female of the Species, starring Eileen Atkins and Anna Maxwell Martin - opened on 16 July 2008 (previews from 10 July) and is due to finish its limited season on 4 October (See Review Round-up, 17 Jul 2008).
- by Terri Paddock