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Betty Blue Eyes Confirms Dates, More Casting

As previously reported, Betty Blue Eyes, the musical adaptation of the Alan Bennett-scripted comedy film A Private Function, will receive its world premiere at the Novello Theatre in spring 2011, starring Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith. Producer Cameron Mackintosh today confirmed that it will start performances on 19 March 2011, with tickets going on sale 29 November 2011. The timing for the opening for the story, centred on a Royal wedding, will conveniently coincide with the real Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, announced this week.

More company names have also been confirmed today. Joining Lancashire and Shearsmith in the cast of “eccentric characters” will be: David Bamber (as Swaby), Jack Edwards (Allardyce), Mark Meadows (Lockwood), Adrian Scarborough (Wormold) and [Ann Emery (as 74-and-ravenous Mother Dear), who won a Whatsonstage.com Award for Billy Elliot, which she has been with since its opening. The new British musical has a book by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, with music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. It will be directed by Richard Eyre, with musical staging by Stephen Mear, design by Tim Hatley, lighting by Neil Austin and sound by Mick Potter. The musical director is Richard Beadle, musical supervisor Stephen Brooker and orchestrations are by William David Brohn.

The 1984 film was set in a Yorkshire village after the Second World War, where rationing presents a challenge for the locals who want to celebrate a Royal wedding in style by slaughtering an illegally raised pig for the event. Chaos ensues when the pig is stolen and a food inspector arrives, determined to stop activities circumventing the food rationing. Lancashire and Shearsmith will star as Joyce and Gilbert Chilvers, the roles originated on screen by Maggie Smith and Michael Palin.

In a statement today, Cameron Mackintosh said: “Even though my recent productions of Oliver!, My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins and the new Les Mis have all had great success, Betty Blue Eyes is my first original musical in over ten years. As a long-time admirer of Alan Bennett’s wickedly funny screenplay for the film A Private Function, I immediately fell in love with this infectious and delicious musical treatment which has expanded on the original . It is an utterly British and suitably crackers musical and yet surprisingly was the idea of two American writers Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman – but you’d never know it! As we all face Austerity Britain and a Royal Wedding, Betty Blue Eyes proves that British pluck will make sure good times are just around the corner.”

Currently at the Novello, Martin Sherman’s play Onassis, starring Robert Lindsay, is in previews ahead of its opening on 12 October 2010. It’s booking through to 8 January 2011.


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