Saturday, July 23, 2011

'Betty Blue Eyes' by Ron Cowen, Daniel Lipman, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe

23 July 2011

Last Thursday we went to London to see an animatronic pig - and it's not often you can say that! We were at the Novello Theatre to see 'Betty Blue Eyes', a new musical based on the 1984 film 'A Private Function. The film, written by Alan Bennett and starring Michael Palin and Maggie Smith, has been reimagined for the stage by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman with music by George Stiles and lyrics by Anthony Drewe. Set in a small town in Yorkshire in 1947, much is made of the contemporary resonances of Royal Wedding celebrations amid Austerity Britain. As people struggle with the harsh realities of rationing, an unlicensed pig is being illegally prepared to feed local dignitaries at a private function to celebrate the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten. But local chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers, and his wife Joyce, steal the pig and start a three-way tussle between themselves, the town council and the meat inspector. Reece Shearsmith and Sarah Lancashire are excellent as the leads. There are some great song and dance numbers, choreographed by Stephen Mear. It was lovely to see a West End musical comedy that was actually very funny. 'Betty Blue Eyes' feels like an old-fashioned musical - tuneful, witty (with plenty of pig puns!) and moving. The pig doesn't quite steal the show but you certainly come out smiling.

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