One to watch: Betty Blue Eyes

November 21, 2010

Bleak days of austerity are brightened by the prospect of a royal wedding. Not a recent headline, but the premise of Cameron Mackintosh’s new musical, Betty Blue Eyes. Based on a 1984 Alan Bennett-penned short film, the show has been adapted by Ron Cowan and Daniel Lipman with a score by West End darlings Stiles and Drewe.

Set in ration-heavy postwar Britain, times are tough and the only excitement on the horizon is the impending marriage of Princess Elizabeth and her consort Philip. While British citizens struggle to get by, local officials take what they can to be comfortable. The Betty in the title is neither aristocratic or poor, but a pig, illegally reared to ensure the dignitaries can dine well to celebrate the royal wedding. Yes, it sounds a little nuts, but for CamMack to put his name to it, the madness must just about work.

Betty Blue Eyes is my first original musical in over 10 years,” he points out. “As a long-time admirer of Alan Bennett’s wickedly funny screenplay for the film ‘A Private Function’, I immediately fell in love with this infectious and delicious musical treatment which has expanded on the original. It is an utterly British and suitably crackers musical.”

Eccentric characters and retro numbers will add to BBE’s charm, with Ghost Stories’ Reece Shearsmith and ex-Corrie and Guys and Dolls’ Sarah Lancashire as the odd couple Gilbert and Joyce.

Previews start at the Novello Theatre on 19 March 2011, and I for one am intrigued…

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