In a week's time, preview performances start for the new Cameron Mackintosh musical Betty Blue Eyes.
Adapted from Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray's film “A Private Function”, the story centres around Betty, a pig who is being illegally reared to ensure that the local dignitaries can celebrate the forthcoming Royal Wedding with a lavish banquet while everyone else makes do with Spam. This very British musical, has music by George Stiles and lyrics by Anthony Drewe. Richard Eyre directs and Stephen Mear will stage the musical numbers.
When I agreed to produce “Betty” I certainly didn't imagine that this unique musical tale set in 1947 would be so topical. From its opening number “Goodbye Austerity Britain”, with a Government mantra of “Fair Shares For All”, greedy local Councillors lauding it over a hungry belt-tightened population on rations, the worst winter in living memory and even a Royal Wedding (Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip's!) time seems to have stood still. But most great stories are timeless and this one revolves around an adorable pig called Betty who is secretly being raised to be the main course at a very private function to celebrate the Royal Wedding. To find out what happens you need to trot to the Novello Theatre.”
Surprisingly the book is by two Americans Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman who who adapted Queer as Folk for US television. They bought the rights, but have remained faithful to Alan Bennett's original.
It's surprisingly Bennett-like, Bennettesque, Bennettian — whatever the adjective is, and I would say that it absolutely has his droll tone and they're very much still his characters,” says Richard Eyre in The Times.
Betty Blue Eyes is at the Novello Theatre, London WC2, from March 19; 0844 4825170
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.