Theatre News

Don Black teases gender-switched version of his and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tell Me on a Sunday

The production was tested with Rebecca Frecknall directing

Rebecca Frecknall, Don Black and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Rebecca Frecknall, Don Black and Andrew Lloyd Webber
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Award-winning lyricist Don Black (Sunset Boulevard, Stephen Ward) has given details about a gender-switched production of Tell Me On A Sunday that was in the works before being interrupted by COVID-19.

Talking to the BBC, Black spoke of transforming the 1979 musical (co-created with Andrew Lloyd Webber) which follows an English girl from Muswell Hill who travels to New York. The new version is about a gay man making the same journey, set in the same period. The song cycle has formerly starred the likes of Marti Webb, Claire Sweeney and Bernadette Peters. Sweeney's version was updated for the 21st century back in 2010.

Black said: "We workshopped it in a rehearsal studio with Rebecca Frecknall as director. We knew immediately it could open up resonant new areas of the story." Frecknall recently helmed the award-winning revival of Summer and Smoke with Patsy Ferran, and more recently The Duchess of Malfi at the Almeida.

Black, 81, also said that he himself contracted COVID-19 earlier this year, and had to spend nine days in hospital fighting the virus.

Whether or not Frecknall's production of Tell Me on A Sunday will ever be seen remains up in the air, with Black stating he will "be so delighted if we can put it together". The lyricist is also working on a musical version of iconic film The Third Man, while rejigging his 2006 musical adaption of Debbie Wiseman's Feather Boy, which originally ran at the National Theatre.

Gender-switched re-imaginings of classic musicals has become an increasingly popular move, especially following Marianne Elliott's award-winning revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company, led by Rosalie Craig and Patti LuPone. John Tiffany previously attempted to stage an all-male version of the same show, though this did not progress beyond the planning stages.

The lyricist will also be appearing in conversation with Michael Grade this Thursday at 7pm via the Kings Place KPlayer, online.