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Anita Dobson and Greta Scacchi will bring old style Hollywood rivalry to the West End when they potray movie icons Bette Davis and Joan Crawford and their legendary feud in the world premiere of Anton Burg's Bette & Joan at the Arts Theatre from 5 May 2011.

They were born under the same sign,Aries, a powerful fire sign--and in the same year, although Davis would later swear: “Crawford is five years older than me, if she’s a day.”

Joan became a star first, which irritated her rival, who suggested that her rapid success came via the casting couch. “It sure as hell beat the hard cold floor,” Crawford cooly responded.

Bette was the more accomplished actress,but both shared the same ruthless drive and determination to get to and to stay at the top. When Crawford, as the Princess Royal at MGM, found her fame and career waning, she left the Metro studio and moved to Warner Brothers, where Bette Davis was firmly ensconced as Queen of that domain. Crawford then proceeded to take over Davis’s roles, her leading men, and her throne. A decade later, when their careers were thought to be over, they were brought together to work in the classic 1962 film noir, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? On screen, their stark, intense, and brilliant performances were equally matched by the fierce and sometimes deadly games of ego and star control they enacted off stage.

Announced as part of the Arts Theatre's summer season, Bette & Joan sees the stars at the low points of their careers meet on the set of Whatever happened to Baby Jane?.   A high risk shocker, the film becomes a surprise hit that propels them back to stardom.

Anita Dobson is best known as Angie Watts from Eastenders but on stage Dobson has starred as Hazel Fletcher in the short-lived musical Budgie, with Adam Faith and and in 2004 gave a Award-winning performance in Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Shaftesbury Theatre.  She also appeared in the revived Tom Stoppard musical Rough Crossing, played a holocaust survivor in My Lovely Shayna Maidel and the role of Gertrude in the English Touring Theatre production of Hamlet at the New Ambassadors Theatre in London's West End.  Most recently she was seen in the West End in Tim Firth's Calendar Girls at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Award winning actress Greta Scacchi well known for her movie/tv roles has starred in Michael Blakemore's West End production of Uncle Vanya and her recent stage credits include Peter Hall's Bath Theatre Royal production of Private Lives.

The show will play a limited season until 25 June directed by Bill Alexander.

Currently playing at the Arts, Woody Guthrie tribute Woody Sez finishes its run on 2 April 2011. The show plays concurrently with A Guide to Sexual Misery, Having revisited the Arts before Christmas, it returned on 4 March 2011 and continues an extended run on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until 30 April 2011.

[posted by Louise, 29/03/2011]


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