The Finborough Theatre's 'Celebrating British Music Theatre' series follows Perchance to Dream with Ivor Novello's last musical. Gay's the Word opens a strictly limited run of seven Sunday and Monday performances on Sunday, 5 February 2012 (Press Night: Monday, 6 February 2012 at 7.30pm). This is the first professional revival of the 1951 play, which starred Dame Cicely Courtneidge.
About the show: "Novello sends up his own Ruritanian extravagances in this backstage musical comedy. Former stage star Gay Daventry opens a drama school and finds that what is needed to get her back on top is, to name the show's hit song, Vitality! Other numbers include If Only He'd Looked My Way (subsequently recorded by Frank Sinatra), Bees Are Buzzin' and the enchanting On Such A Night As This, all combining Novello's melodic talent with Alan Melville's sharp wit."
The cast: West End's Sophie-Louise Dann stars in the title role of Gay, fresh from her critical sensation in last year's Lend Me a Tenor. Her co-star is Helena Blackman. The 19-strong cast features Tony Award winner Elizabeth Seal, whose career began in the chorus of the original production, as well as RSC and West End stars Frank Barrie, Valerie Cutko, Doreen Hermitage, Eileen Page and Myra Sands. Welsh-born composer, author and actor Ivor Novello (1893-1951) was one of the most eminent British entertainers of the last century. His West End musicals include Glamorous Night, The Dancing Years and King's Rhapsody. As an actor, he was Britain's first major male film star, appearing in over 20 silent features including Alfred Hitchcock's classic The Lodger. As a West End matinee idol, he appeared in many of his own plays and musicals. The Ivor Novello Awards, honouring excellence in British music writing were established in 1955 in his memory.
Alan Melville (1910-1983) was one of the most popular playwrights and lyricists of the postwar years, and later a television personality. His sketches and lyrics featured in many West End revues, including the Sweet and Low series which together ran for almost 2,000 performances. His long-running plays include Dear Charles and Simon and Laura.
Bio for Frank Barrie: "Frank Barrie is one of the UK's most experienced actors, with theatre appearances ranging from four years at The National Theatre under Sir Laurence Olivier, to major roles in many Shakespeare plays including Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard II, Richard III and Romeo and Juliet (his Broadway debut). He is the author of his one-man show Macready!, which transferred to the West End in 1981 after a triumphant run in New York, and was filmed in USA and for Channel 4. This is the most popular one-man show ever, playing in 65 countries to date and winning Frank a Plays and Players award as Best Actor. His other writing includes The Other Woman, starring Dame Thora Hird (BBC) and the acclaimed book Acting Shakespeare for Auditions, available from www.stageplays.com and www.amazon.co.uk. Television includes over one hundred appearances, including the lead in Coriolanus and EastEnders (as EdWard Bishop)."
Bio for Helena Blackman: "Helena Blackman trained at the Guildford School of Acting and is known best for her appearances on How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria? (BBC). Her credits include Gertrude Lawrence in Noël and Gertie (Off West End Award nomination), Lily/Rose in The Secret Garden (West Yorkshire Playhouse), Helen in the West End premiere of Sondheim's Saturday Night (Arts Theatre), Nellie Forbush in the UK No 1 tour of South Pacific (TMA Award nomination), the title role in Gypsy (Cardiff Millennium Centre) and Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (Leicester Haymarket Theatre). In concert and on radio, Helena's solo performances include Howard Goodall's 20th Century Musical Greats (Channel 4), Night of 1000 Voices (Royal Albert Hall), Friday Night Is Music Night (BBC Radio 2), The Alan Titchmarsh Show (ITV) Maria Meets Joseph (BBC), In Tune and The Elaine Paige Show. Television appearances include Any Dream Will Do, Strictly Come Dancing and It Takes Two (BBC). Helena's debut album The Sound of Rodgers & Hammerstein was released to critical acclaim in 2011. As well as co-starring in Gay's the Word, she is also touring the UK with her debut show Journey to the Past, performing songs from animated movies. www.helenablackman.com"