Cliff Richard and Alvin Stardust were among the celebrities at the show’s opening performance this past Tuesday (19 October 2004, following seven previews from 13 October) at the newly relaunched Shaw Theatre, where Oscar Wilde - the opening production, timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Oscar Wilde's birth - was due to run until 21 November 2004 (See News, 7 Sep 2004).
But, following largely damning overnight reviews, only five people booked for last night’s performance, which was subsequently cancelled. Today, Read (pictured) - who produced, wrote and directed Oscar Wilde – decided to pull the plug on the run, citing the poor critical reception and small box office advance as reasons.
The former DJ-turned-reality TV star told Whatsonstage.com: "I am naturally devastated at the turn of events. We had a fantastic West End cast, and the reaction of the audience on press night was terrific. We have been offered a deal to record the show CD and two producers want to tour the show next year."
Oscar Wilde follows the six final years of Wilde’s life. By the 1890s, the Dublin-born wit, raconteur and author had become the darling of the West End through the premieres of A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest. But his spectacular fall from grace was swift and catastrophic.
The nine-strong cast featured Peter Blake, who also starred in the ill-fated Money to Burn, in the title role with Anita Louise Combe (Chicago, Sunset Boulevard) as wife Constance and Chris Corcoran (Evita, Chess) as the Marquess of Queensberry.
A household name in Britain for 25 years, Read has presented Radio One, Classic FM, Jazz FM, Capital Gold and other stations. In 2004, Read found a new television audience when he camped out in the Australian jungle for the reality TV show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. For the stage, he’s written several musicals including Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, Young Apollo, Ricky Nelson Teenage Idol, White Wedding, Oh Puck!, The Prince and the Pauper and Cliff. The last - a tribute to Cliff Richard, which Read also starred in – transferred to the West End’s Prince of Wales theatre following a UK tour.
The Shaw is now under the management of the newly established Off West End Theatres, which also runs the New End Theatre in Hampstead and the recently reopened New Players Theatre at Charing Cross.
- by Terri Paddock