One of 11 children of a Soho stall-holder, Jessie Matthews first performed at the age of 12. She went on to become a darling of the West End and an international star for her high-kicking performances in film musicals such as Evergreen, which featured her most famous song, "Over My Shoulder". Married to fellow actor Sonnie Hale, Matthews also became renowned for her racy love life.
After decades out of the public eye, Matthews came back to prominence in the 1960s as Mrs Dale in over 1,500 episodes of the long-running BBC radio series Mrs Dale's Diary. She received the OBE in 1970 and died in 1981.
Over My Shoulder features all of Matthews' greatest hits, including "Let's Do It", "Dancing on the Ceiling", "Gangway" and the title song. Anne Rogers (The Boy Friend) will reprise her role as Jessie for the West End, where she'll be joined by Jo Gibb (Chicago, The Rat Pack) as young Jessie.
The musical previously had a sell-out season in November 2001 at London's fringe Jermyn Street Theatre. It's written by Richard Stirling and includes songs by Rodgers and Hart, Irving Berlin and Noël Coward. It is directed and choreographed by Stewart Nicholls. The musical arrangements are by Rowland Lee, designs by Claire Lyth, costumes by Ilona Karas Prokopcova and lighting by Leigh Porter.
- by Terri Paddock