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Victoria Wood Directs Comedy Talent for Menier

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Victoria Wood will direct a new version of her own 1978 comedy Talent, which will have a limited London season from 23 September to 14 November 2009 (previews from 17 September) at the 150-seat Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark.

It’s talent night at Bunter’s nightclub, and contestant Julie and her fat friend Maureen are waiting backstage. As they’re plunged into a world of ukulele-wielding pensioners, crotch-grabbing comperes and some long- buried personal history, Julie and Maureen have to decide how lucky they really want to be.

Talent premiered in 1978 at the Sheffield Crucible, with Wood herself in the cast, and in 1979 transferred to the ICA in London and won Wood an Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright. That same year, a TV adaptation featured Wood and Julie Walters performing together on screen for the first time. Casting for the new production has not yet been announced.

Victoria Wood’s career as a comedian and writer began with her winning the ITV talent show New Faces in 1974. She has won more BAFTAs for her writing and performing than anyone else in BAFTA history. Her TV series include Victoria Wood as Seen on TV, An Audience with Victoria Wood, Pat and Margaret, dinnerladies and Housewife, 49. She made her musical writing debut in 2005 with Acorn Antiques, adapted from her 1980s TV hit of the same name, with Julie Walters again starring. In 2007 Wood directed a new touring production of the musical, which was originally directed by Trevor Nunn at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket.

The revival of Talent is co-produced with the Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness, where, prior to the Menier, it will run for 15 performances only from 27 August to 12 September 2009. Victoria Wood – along with Alan Rickman and Griff Rhys Jones – is a trustee of the Old Laundry, which was founded in 1992 by Roger Glossop.

Talent has original music and lyrics by Wood. The new production is designed by Roger Glossop, with lighting by Paul Anderson, sound by David Ogilvy and musical supervision by Nigel Lilley. Currently at the Chocolate Factory, the long-running New York musical revue Forbidden Broadway is booking until 13 September (See News, 17 Apr 2009).


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