Olivier Award winner Terry Johnson will direct EastEnders’ Jessie Wallace and Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp in a new adaptation of musical comedy Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be when it opens at the Theatre Royal Stratford East next year.
BAFTA nominated actress Wallace, who is best known for her role as Kat Moon in the BBC’s long-running soap, and Kemp, lead songwriter for the well-known British band, will take on the roles of Lil and PC Collins respectively when the production plays at the east London venue from 8 May (press night 20 May) to 8 June prior to a national tour.
Adapted by Elliot Davis, the composer behind Olivier Award nominated hit Loserville, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be, which features music and lyrics by Lionel Bart and a book by Frank Norman, is set in the 1950s, prior to the birth of rock ‘n’ roll and The Beatles, when loveable rogue Fred leaves prison to find that he is not the king of the manor he once was.
While Wallace is best known for her on screen roles, having appeared in television dramas including The Road To Coronation Street and Wild At Heart in addition to the Albert Square-set soap, the actress has previously been seen on stage in Rent at the Duke of York’s theatre and Haunted at the Arts.
His pop career aside, musician-turned-actor Kemp is also well-known for his screen appearances, which have included Lewis, The Krays and The Bodyguard, but, like Wallace, the actor has previously made his mark on the London stage in productions including The Rubenstein Kiss at the Hampstead theatre and Art at the Wyndham’s theatre.
Olivier and Tony Award-winning director Johnson, whose West End production of political comedy The Duck House is set to open at the Vaudeville theatre tomorrow night, will also direct Sarah Middleton, Ruth Alfie Adams, Will Barton and Suzie Chard in the production, with further casting still to be announced.
First developed by Joan Littlewood in 1959, when it enjoyed a successful run at the Theatre Royal Stratford East before transferring to the West End, the show marks the centenary of the renowned director’s birth and follows a new production of Oh What A Lovely War, which Littlewood also directed in 1965.