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Fisher & McGowan Play Our Song for Menier, 4 Aug

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Connie Fisher, in her first full stage role since leaving The Sound of Music in February, and Alistair McGowan (pictured together) will star in the first major London revival of Neil Simon’s musical They’re Playing Our Song, which will run at Southwark’s Menier Chocolate Factory from 4 August to 28 September 2008 (previews from 25 July).

The semi-autobiographical story is based on the relationship between composer Marvin Hamlisch and lyricist Carole Bayer Sager, who provided the music and lyrics for the piece. In They’re Playing Our Song, neurotic award-winning composer Vernon Gersch is teamed up with the lovably eccentric Sonia Walsk, a young lyricist who is a hopeless time-keeper and dresses in cast-off theatre costumes. The pairing seems destined to falter before it begins, but as their working relationship grows, so do their feelings for each other.

The musical had its Broadway premiere in 1979, starring Robert Klein and Luci Arnaz. The West End premiere a year later starred Tom Conti and Gemma Craven. This is the first major production in London since then. The score for They’re Playing Our Song includes “Workin’ It Out”, “If He Really Knew Me”, “Just for Tonight”, “I Still Believe in Love” and the title song.

After shooting to fame on the first BBC musical casting programme How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? two years ago, Connie Fisher subsequently won both the Whatsonstage.com and Critics’ Circle Awards for her performance as Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music. Over the past two years, TV impressionist Alistair McGowan has also accumulated an impressive number of musical credits including Merry Wives – The Musical, The Mikado, the West End transfer of the Menier revival of Little Shop of Horrors and, just finished, Cabaret.

They’re Playing Our Song is directed by Fiona Laird - who also directed the current Chocolate Factory production, a revival of Simon Gray’s The Common Pursuit - and is designed by Matthew Wright with musical supervision and orchestrations by Caroline Humphris.

A one-time rehearsal pianist on Funny Girl, Marvin Hamlisch is one of only two men to have been awarded all five of the major awards in American entertainment. A Tony and a Pulitzer Prize for A Chorus Line, a Grammy and an Oscar for the score for The Way We Were, and an Emmy for Barbra Streisand, The Concert.

Carole Bayer Sager had her first hit as a lyricist with “A Groovy Kind of Love” in 1965 and has collaborated with Burt Bacharach, Neil Diamond, Bette Midler and Bob Dylan. She co-wrote, with Marvin Hamlisch, the Bond theme “Nobody Does It Better”, and received an Oscar for “Arthur’s Theme” from the 1982 Dudley Moore film Arthur.

Currently at the Chocolate Factory, The Common Pursuit stars Nigel Harman, Reece Shearsmith and James Dreyfus and continues its limited season until 20 July (See News, 17 Apr 2008).

- by Terri Paddock


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