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Betty Blue Eyes Premieres at Novello in Spring

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As previously tipped, 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 (exact dates to be confirmed), starring Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith.

The show, which is produced by Cameron Mackintosh, features 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 choreography by Stephen Mear and design by Tim Hatley.

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. The supporting cast is, subject to final negotiations, likely to include stalwarts David Bamber, Jack Edward, Adrian Scarborough and Billy Elliot’s Ann Emery, and the blue-eyed Betty will be played by an animatronic pig.

Sarah Lancashire found fame playing Raquel Watts in Coronation Street. On stage, she took over from Jane Krakowski as Miss Adelaide in Michael Grandage’s West End revival of Guys and Dolls in 2005, and her other credits include Blood Brothers, Little Shop of Horrors and Educating Rita.

In addition to being one quarter of comedy sketch team The League of Gentlemen, Reece Shearsmith has appeared on screen in Psychoville, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Spaced, Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere and Shaun of the Dead. His stage credits include As You Like It and The Producers (for which he was Whatsonstage.com Award nominated) in the West End, The Common Pursuit and Comedians. Also, just announced this week, ahead of Betty Blue Eyes, he’ll spend two months at the West End’s Duke of York’s theatre Ghost Stories, co-written and directed by his League fellow, Jeremy Dyson.

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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