Betty Blue Eyes to close at Novello

Published August 23, 2011

Betty Blue Eyes, the new Stiles and Drewe musical which opened at the Novello theatre in March, is to end its West End run on 24 September. It had been booking to 28 January.

A statement from the producers attributed the closure to lack of audience numbers, saying “it seems that the prevailing economic uncertainties nationally are leading audiences to take less risks on spending their money on new and unknown work and to seek refuge in safe and familiar titles and material.”

Producer Cameron Mackintosh added: “It is very curious – after such amazing reviews and positive word of mouth, no-one knows the real reason why Betty couldn’t find a bigger audience. We have been consistently playing to just over 50 per cent but it just isn’t enough to cover the costs.  Of course I am disappointed but I’m not despondent, I am enormously proud of Betty. I know that she will eventually have her day and another life.”

Featuring a country in the grip of austerity measures, class divisions and a royal wedding, Betty Blue Eyes seemed a particularly musical to open in 2011. A rare new British musical, it is based on the 1984 Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray film A Private Function, and is set in the 1950s when rations are still in force. It tells the tale of Joyce and Gilbert Chilvers, whose attempts to fit in to their new home in a small town in Northern England leads them to capture a pig, Betty, which is being illegally fattened for a banquet to celebrate the nuptials of Princess Elizabeth.

Director Richard Eyre’s production has a cast including Reece Shearsmith, Sarah Lancashire and Adrian Scarborough, with choreography from Stephen Mear.

No further productions have yet been announced for the Novello theatre.

CB

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