Posted on 16 March 2011

• Previewing from 19 March 2011 at the Novello Theatre
• Currently booking until 22 October 2011
• First mid-week matinee Thu 21 April
• First weekend matinee Sat 26 March
• Performance Times: Mon – Sat at 7.30pm / Thu & Sat at 2.30pm

• Betty Blue Eyes is offering fantastic preview ticket rates for ALL performances from 19 March – 9 April 2011.

• Betty Blue Eyes also has great group rates for schools!

• To hear a sneak preview of the deliciously toe-tapping songs. The songs previewed are sung by Sarah Lancashire, Reece Shearsmith & Jack Edwards.

What is Betty Blue Eyes?
• Betty Blue Eyes is a new musical comedy Produced by Cameron Mackintosh (Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Oliver!) , Directed by Richard Eyre with Choreography by Stephen Mear and starring Sarah Lancashire (Guys and Dolls, Coronation Street) and Reece Shearsmith (Ghost Stories, League of Gentlemen) as Joyce and Gilbert Chilvers.

• Betty Blue Eyes is based on the Handmade film “A Private Function” by Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray which starred Michael Palin and Maggie Smith and was released in 1984 to much acclaim.

• The film has been adapted for stage by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman and transformed into a new musical comedy, with 16 never-before-heard songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, the award-winning musical theatre songwriting duo (additional songs for the recent West End hit Mary Poppins)

• This will be the World Premiere for Betty Blue Eyes.

What is it about?
• Betty Blue Eyes is set in a small Yorkshire village called Shepardsford in 1947 in the immediate aftermath of World War 2. Rationing is still in effect, and the country’s long suffering citizens have been told by the government that there will be ‘fair shares for all’.

• The only bright spark on the horizon is the impending Royal Wedding of the then Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten.

• Meanwhile there is more hardship for the locals as the butchers of Shepardsford are under threat of closure by Inspector Wormold (played by Adrian Scarborough) – an over zealous   Inspector for the Ministry of Food dedicated to punishing anyone dealing in unlicensed meat.

• Determined to celebrate the upcoming nuptials in style, a group of businessmen (played by David Bamber, Jack Edwards and Mark Meadows) decide to illegally rear a pig (Betty) for an exclusive banquet held for local dignitaries – A Private Function to which only the crème de la crème of the town will be invited.

• Desperate to be recognised as important members of Shepardsford’s society, and to secure an invitation to the banquet, Joyce and Gilbert Chilvers (played by Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith) hatch a plan to kidnap Betty the pig, much to the confusion of Joyce’s elderly mother (played by Ann Emery).

Who is in Betty Blue Eyes?
• Sarah Lancashire and Reece Shearsmith star as Gilbert and Joyce Chilvers (originally played by Palin and Smith).

• Reece Shearsmith is probably best known as a member of the sketch comedy team The League of Gentlemen, which he also co-wrote. Previous appearances in the West End have been in ‘The Producers’ and ‘Ghost Stories’. Sarah Lancashire is probably best recognised for her role as Raquel Watts in Coronation Street but she’s no stranger to the stage having starred in the West End productions of ‘Guys and Dolls’ and ‘Blood Brothers’.
• Sarah and Reece head up a marvellous cast of 23, including some well-known British names that people may recognise:
David Bamber – David’s recent theatre credits include Absurd Person Singular, Otherwise Engaged and The Soldier’s Tale but you may also recognise him from his roles in BBC’s Rome and as Mr Collins in the popular TV adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.
Ian Conningham – Ian’s theatre credits include The Rivals (in the West End and on tour), Inherit The Wind, Gone With The Wind, The Giant, Take Flight and the RSC’s Merry Wives of Windsor.
Jack Edwards – Jack’s theatre credits include Sweet Charity (at Menier Chocolate Factory and Theatre Royal Haymarket), The Stripper, The Rocky Horror Show (European Tour), Guys and Dolls and Annie Get Your Gun.
Ann Emery – Ann is probably best remembered for the role of 'Mrs Meaker' in the BBC’s Rentaghost (BBC) but most recently, Ann created the role of ‘Grandma’ in Billy Elliot the Musical Her other theatre credits include My Fair Lady, Hard Times, Hay Fever, Hey Mr Producer! and Cats.
Mark Meadows – Mark’s theatre credits include playing Herr von Hussler and George Banks in Mary Poppins. He has also appeared in the Regent’s Park productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth. Mark is a former member and musical director of the international vocal group The Swingle Singers.
Adrian Scarborough – Adrian is probably best recognised for his role as Pete in the BBC’s popular TV series Gavin and Stacey and for his recent turn in the award-winning film The King’s Speech but he’s no stranger to the stage with acclaimed turns in the NT productions of After the Dance and The Habit of Art.

[posted by Honza, 16/03/2011]