Speak live with one of our operators
 
ARCHIVE PAGE FOR - The Witches of Eastwick

THIS PRODUCTION HAS NOW CLOSED:
For current London West End theatre shows
please use the menu on the left hand side.

Musical with book and lyrics by John Dempsey and music by Dana Rowe. Based on the novel by John Updike and the Warner Bros. Motion Picture. Directed by Eric Schaeffer.

Orchestrations by William D. Brohn, sound design by Andrew Bruce, lighting design by Howard Harrison, designed by Bob Crowley and choreographed by Bob Avian.

John Dempsey, who wrote the book and lyrics for this musical, says: "In the tiny New England town of Eastwick, Rhode Island, three modern day witches innocently plot and conjure over a heady brew of weak martinis and peanut butter brownies. But when their longings are made flesh in the arrival of one Darryl Van Horne, all hell breaks loose. Quite literally."

Based on the novel by John Updike and the Warner Bros. Motion Picture, which starred Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer. Best-selling novelist John Updike, who was born in 1932 in Pennsylvania, now lives in Massachusetts. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Howells Medal. He has recently published his memoirs under the title of 'Self-Consciousness'. Speaking through his Los Angeles agent Ken Sherman, John Updike says, "I'm pleased to think my witches will have another incarnation through the medium of the musical stage; In my mind there was always dancing and singing involved in witchcraft."

John Dempsey and Dana Rowe are the young American writers who were behind the musical The Fix, which was premiered in London in 1997 and which went on to have a huge success in Washington DC, where it was directed by Eric Schaeffer.

Cast from 2 July 2001: Clarke Peters 'Darryl van Horne', Josefina Gabrielle 'Alexandra Spofford', Joanna Riding 'Jane Smart', Rebecca Thornhill 'Sukie Rougemont', Rosemary Ashe 'Felicia Gabriel', Stephen Tate 'Clyde Gabriel', Caroline Sheen 'Jennifer Gabriel', Paul Spicer 'Michael Spofford' and Gee Williams 'Fidel'. This cast will have an 'Opening Night' on 17 July 2001

THEATRE ROYAL DRURY LANE Previewed 24 June, Opened 18 July 2000, Closed 24 February 2001 transferred to
PRINCE OF WALES Theatre Run 23 March 2001 to 27 October 2001

On the 1 October 1999: it was announced that The Witches of Eastwick will open on Tuesday 13 June 2000, with previews expected to begin on 26 May (possibly 15 May) - Booking opens on Saturday 16 October 1999.
On 10 January 2000: There where unconfirmed reports that Michael Crawford will star in Cameron Mackintosh's latest musical The Witches of Eastwick in the role of 'Darryl Van Horns' - all a spokesperson for the producer Cameron Mackintosh would say today (10 Jan) was that "his office is currently in negotiations with a major star to play in The Witches of Eastwick." It is also rumoured that the three witches will be played by Lucie Arnaz, and Joanna Riding and Maria Friedman.
On 21 January 2000: There are unconfirmed reports that opening of The Witches of Eastwick will be delayed for three months until early September. It is thought that this delay is to allow more time for rehearsals - ten days ago there were reports that Michael Crawford would play the role of 'Darryl Van Horns'. When tickets originally went on sale in October last year it was said that 'due to the highly technical nature of the production some of the performance dates may change.'
On 25 January 2000: Following speculation, the casting for the lead roles has now been confirmed: Ian McShane will take the role of 'Darryl Van Horne' with Lucie Arnaz, Maria Friedman and Joanna Riding as the three glamorous witches, 'Alexandra', 'Sukie' and 'Jane'. The cast will also include Rosemary Ashe (the original 'Carlotta' in The Phantom of the Opera), Peter Joback (the Swedish star, recently seen in Miss Saigon), Caroline Sheen (from Mamma Mia!) and Stephen Tate (the original star of Cats and A Chorus Line).
After training at RADA, Ian McShane first came to stage prominence in the 1960's in the original production of Joe Orton's Loot and Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie. He later co-starred with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen in The Promise both in the West End and on Broadway. In recent years he has mostly played screen roles - he is perhaps best known for playing the title role in the popular television series Lovejoy.
Emmy Award-winning American actress Lucie Arnaz will be making her West End debut in the production. Maria Friedman won the 1997 Olivier Award for 'Best Actress in a Musical' for her role in Passion, she also won the 1995 Olivier Award for 'Best Entertainment' for her show Maria Friedman by Special Arrangement. Joanna Riding won the 1993 Olivier Award for 'Best Actress in a Musical' for her role in the Royal National Theatre's revival of Carousel.
Also, in order to accomodate certain prior contractual obligations the opening dates have been delayed by one month: the musical will have it's opening/press night on Tuesday 18 July 2000, with previews from Saturday 24 June 2000. (The production was originally due to opens on 13 June 2000, following previews from 26 May)
On 30 June 2000: The preview performances on Fri 30 June 7.45pm, Sat 1 July 3.00pm and 7.45pm where cancelled due to cast illness: Both Ian McShane and his understudy had flu.
On 17 July 2000: It was announced that seats in the front half of the Balcony (Rows B to F) are now on general sale
On 6 November 2000: There have been rumours circulating the West End over the last couple of days that that The Witches of Eastwick, currently at the 2,100 seat Theatre Royal Drury Lane Theatre, will be announcing a transfer to another theatre shortly. The cast and crew of the production are believed to have been called to a meeting about the situation this evening. Currently everybody is remaining tight-lipped but there is speculation - all unconfirmed - that The Witches of Eastwick, which is currently booking up to the end of March 2001, might announce a transfer to the 1,100 seat Prince of Wales Theatre (where Fosse is currently running and booking up to mid January 2001) or the 1,200 seat Piccadilly Theatre (where La Cava is currently running and booking up to the end of April 2001).
On 7 November 2000: Following the rumours (see above), it has now been confirmed today that The Witches of Eastwick will be transfering from the Theatre Royal Drury Lane Theatre to the Prince of Wales Theatre in spring 2001. The Witches of Eastwick will have its final performance at the 2,100 seat Drury Lane Theatre on Saturday 24 February 2001 after which it will transfer to the 1,100 seat Prince of Wales Theatre with performances from 23 March 2001. It is expected that, subject to final confirmation, tickets for the Prince of Wales performances will go on sale on Monday 20 November 2000.
It is hoped that the smaller Prince of Wales Theatre will give the show a more inimate feel and give it a higher profile in the West End - The Prince of Wales Theatre is located in a prominent location between Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus with a high volume of pedestrians walking by the theatre every day.
On 20 November 2000: Full details of the transfer to the Prince of Wales Theatre have now been announced: After closing at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Saturday 24 February 2001, the production will transfer to the Prince of Wales Theatre from Friday 23 March 2001. Tickets for performances at the Prince of Wales theatre are now on sale up to 22 December 2001.
On 1 May 2001: There are RUMOURS that a major cast change will take place from 2 July 2001 - with Clarke Peters taking over as 'Darryl van Horne', Josefina Gabrielle as 'Alexandra and Rebecca Thornhill 'Sukie' with Joanna Riding staying as 'Jane'. A new 'Opening Night' is also RUMOURED for 17 July 2001. On the 1 May a spokesperson for the production said: "All details of any cast change are currently unconfirmed."
On 3 May 2001: The Stage has reported today (3 May) that a spokesperson for the show's producer Cameron Mackintosh has now confirmed the new casting as follows: Clarke Peters as 'Darryl van Horne', Josefina Gabrielle as 'Alexandra and Rebecca Thornhill 'Sukie' from 2 July with 'Opening Night' on 17 July. This follows the rumours - see above.
On 23 May 2001: The full principal cast, who take over from 2 July 2001, have now been announced: Clarke Peters 'Darryl van Horne', Josefina Gabrielle 'Alexandra Spofford', Joanna Riding 'Jane Smart', Rebecca Thornhill 'Sukie Rougemont', Rosemary Ashe 'Felicia Gabriel', Stephen Tate 'Clyde Gabriel', Caroline Sheen 'Jennifer Gabriel', Paul Spicer 'Michael Spofford' and Gee Williams 'Fidel'.
On 22 June 2001: Today's London Evening Standard newspaper claims that three high profile musicals - The Beautiful Game, The Witches of Eastwick and Notre Dame de Paris - are "all rumoured to be on the verge of closing early." Under the frontpage headline "Cash Crisis Hits Theatreland, big shows close or at risk as foreign tourists stay away", The London Evening Standard highlights that already a number of productions - including The Secret Garden, Mouth to Mouth, Ghosts and The Beau - have or are all closing earlier than expected. The newspaper states that the problems include the fact that "the pound remains relatively high against other currencies, especially the dollar and the mark, and this makes London very expensive for visitors," adding that "the crisis has been compounded by fears of recession which has been particularly strongly felt in America, Japan and Germany and has led to people staying at home rather than spending money on foreign travel. Additionally, the foot and mouth epidemic has had an impact on tourism with stories about the crisis receiving great play abroad and undermining Britain's reputation as a country to visit." This is born out by figures issued by The London Tourist Board which forecasts a 14% drop in visitors this year. Laurie Webster, the part-owner of Albemarle of London, is quoted in The Standard saying: "There's a big slump in overseas visitors and the home market really doesn't come alive until September."
On 23 August 2001: A new three month booking period covering performances up to 30 March 2002 was announced.

On 10 October 2001: Early closing notices where posted for 27 October 2001 after a total run of 15 months - the musical had been booking up to the end of March 2002.
When closing notices for The Witches of Eastwick where posted, the show's producer Cameron Mackintosh said: "Obviously I would have liked Witches to have run longer as I think it is a terrific show with a terrific cast headed by an acclaimed star performance by Clarke Peters as Darryl van Horne. The audience has a great time but the plain fact is that this year has not been good for new musicals. The whole industry has suffered from a dramatic decline in the tourist sector through much of this spring & summer, but I had hoped that the traditional October upswing in business would have enabled us to remain open into the New Year. However, the recent tragic events in America, with all their consequences, have served to make things even worse and so reluctantly I have had to take the decision to close the production in London and to move it abroad. Hopefully fans of the show will take the opportunity to see it again before the end of the run.
"I very much hope that all the shows' fans and anyone who has yet to see the show will come and enjoy it during its last weeks in London. Depending on public response, we may be able to continue a bit beyond the end of October but as owner of the Prince of Wales theatre, I have had to schedule other productions to follow Witches. As well as the show going to America, possibly with Clarke Peters repeating his acclaimed performance, I am delighted that one of our leading ladies is going to repeat her starring role, of "Laurie', in the R.N.T.'s wonderful production of Oklahoma! which I am presenting on Broadway next March. Having just returned from a Broadway where many shows are battling for survival, because of a lack of tourists there, everyone from the Mayor to the President are urging visitors to visit New York to see the shows, eat at the restaurants and enjoy the city. It's starting to work and the New Yorkers themselves are leading the fight for their city's survival. Londoners need urgently to do the same because there has never been an easier time to get tickets and the city needs to be kept vibrant to make tourists want to return."
It is expected that The Witches of Eastwick will soon be reappearing in several new productions, which are scheduled to open in other countries. The London production is being shipped to America where an American Tour, prior to Broadway, is being planned for late 2003. Other productions are being prepared in Australia, Norway, Hungary and Japan.

Extracts from the reviews: (Second cast at Prince of Wales Theatre Opened 17 July 2001: Clarke Peters as 'Darryl van Horne', Josefina Gabrielle 'Alexandra Spofford', Joanna Riding 'Jane Smart' and Rebecca Thornhill 'Sukie Rougemont' with Rosemary Ashe 'Felicia Gabriel', Stephen Tate 'Clyde Gabriel', Caroline Sheen 'Jennifer Gabriel', Paul Spicer 'Michael Spofford' and Gee Williams 'Fidel')

"...Recast, redesigned and transferred from the Drury Lane, where it was lost in the huge stage space, to the smaller Prince of Wales, this comic operetta has been given a shot in the erogenous zones through its casting of Clarke Peters as the devilish seducer of those manless women... The role fits him like a vocation... The production desperately needs to be played and sung at full theatrical throttle as the songs, apart from the jibes of 'Dirty Laundry' and 'Dance with the Devil', are unmemorable. And Dana P Rowe's music tends to provide noisily bland interruptions for John Dempsey's amusing book. Now that Mr Peters is on hand to give a dynamic, leering thrust to the musical, Eric Schaeffer's production bustles with ardent singing, dancing brio and broad humour... A musical revived." The London Evening Standard

"...Clarke plays Darryl van Horne, the lecher from New York who transforms the barren love lives of three divorced New England ladies played by marvellous Joanna Riding, the lush and lively Josefina Gabrielle and the blonde bombshell Rebecca Thornhill. Did I enjoy it more this time round? Well, yes, actually. Not a lot, but a bit. Acres of musical score go by with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. There a new, busy jazz number for Darryl in which he tanks up his vanity shortly before the church incinerates on his wedding day... Eric Schaeffer's production is vastly improved and fun to watch... I'll bet against anyone humming a tune in five years' time. But good things happen: small town, old-style, vivid choreography, and Clarke Peters' 24 carat-gold devilish star turn for starters." The Daily Mail

"...Now it has transferred to the smaller Prince of Wales, McShane has been replaced by the great Clarke Peters, and The Witches of Eastwick looks like a brimmingly confident smash hit... Dana P Rowe's terrific score has a brassy vaudevillian oomph, as well as a few gentler, more tender moments, and the tunes lodge themselves pleasurably in the memory. John Dempsey's book is full of excellent jokes while his lyrics crackle with wit and sophistication... The night's greatest triumph, though, belongs to Peters... [his] comic timing is a thing of beauty, his hoofing a wonder to behold, his manifest enjoyment of the show infectious... There's oustanding work, too, from Josefina Gabrielle, Joanna Riding and Rebecca Thornhill... The show has the slick expensive sheen which is Mackintosh's trademark, with delightfully witty designs by Bob Crowley, exciting choreography by Bob Avian and Stephen Mear and a production by Eric Schaeffer that never sags. No doubt about it, The Witches of Eastwick offers a wickedly entertaining night on the town." The Daily Telegraph

"...[Clarke] Peters's energy can't conceal the gluey, half-baked nature of the American pie he's asked to serve us. You can see John Dempsey's lyrics coming a mile away, but sadly there's no place to hide... Traditional advice on writing musicals says that the songs should advance action and/or reveal character. The songs by Dempsey and Dana P Rowe, though, tell us several times what we've heard an hour before, or can see for ourselves that Darryl is sexy, or that the townspeople disapprove of his carrying on with the witches... This heavy-handedness shows that this latest product from the Cameron Mackintosh Musical Manufactory knows its target audience women who iron while they watch TV, phone-chat with friends, and shout at the kids. Rowe's tunes, which dribble along ineffectually until they arrive at a sudden, blasting triumphal note (wake up, you in the back row) match Dempsey's soothing paeans to know-nothing narcissism ("Everything I needed was there inside of me")..." The Independent

Extracts from the reviews (Original cast at Theatre Royal Drury Lane: Ian McShane as 'Darryl Van Horne' with Lucie Arnaz, Maria Friedman and Joanna Riding as the three witches, 'Alexandra', 'Sukie' and 'Jane' along with Rosemary Ashe, Peter Joback, Caroline Sheen and Stephen Tate):

"...Ian McShane hams it up to high Heaven as the sexy Satan immortalised on screen by Jack Nicholson. And Lucie Arnaz, Maria Friedman and Joanna Riding are a sensation as the ever-so-willing witches... The show is both old fashioned musical and up-to-date sex comedy. It is full of wonderfully wicked one-liners. And no expense is spared on special effects. Musical instruments have a life of their own, the town busy-body spits feathers, cherries, a tennis ball and a foot-long candle. The witches fly higher than Peter Pan ever did - and forget a crashing chandelier as in the Phantom Of The Opera, the climax sees an entire church come tumbling down. This cost 4.5million to stage. It was money well spent. It is sexy, spectacular and an awful lot of fun." The Mirror

"...The show trundels along with good humour, gags and spectacular sets. But it's basically a second-rate musical wrapped in a 5million budget. Musicals stand or fall by their scores and this, by Dana P Rowe with book and lyrics by John Dempsey, never once struck me as anything original or even devilish... The ladies - sarcastic sculptress Lucie Arnaz, screwball teacher Maria Friedman, and buttoned-up musician Joanna Riding - all come under the priapic spell of Ian McShane's sweaty-faced devil who hammers out his songs with an almost medical rasp. No amount of black magic would get me into bed with him, but it works on the girls... There's a fabulous flying scene that knocks Peter Pan into a cocked hat. It has its moments for sure, but it's a modest addition to London's ample stock of modest musicals." The Express

"The West End finally has a new musical worth making a song and dance about... it is a genuinely likeable and witty show that sends you out into the night with a spring in your step and a smile on your face... This is a show where memorable tunes are intercut with sharp dialogue, the leading actors crack jokes (sometimes very rude ones), and the scale is emphatically human even if the subject matter does jokily embrace the supernatural. Dana P. Rowe's score has an exuberantly brassy, vaudevillian quality, though there are a couple of tunes of aching tenderness too, while the book and lyrics by John Dempsey are blessed with genuine wit... [Ian McShane] seems like a dramatic pygmy... His eyes may glitter and his teeth may flash in supposedly satanic smiles, but there is little sense here of either danger or sexual magnetism... Fortunately the performances of the actresses playing the coven of Eastwick witches offer far better value - and all sing superbly. They work together well as a team, but are strongly individual too... the ensemble perform energetic and inventive dance routines choreographed by Bob Avian and Stephen Mear. Bob Crowley's witty and evocative designs conjure up small town America in a lost age of innocence, while Eric Schaeffer's slick production boasts plenty of fizz..." The Daily Telegraph

"...What is most surprising is that this is really an old-fashioned book musical, in which Dana P Rowe's tunes grow logically out of John Dempsey's story... At their best, Dempsey's book and lyrics have a nice snap and crackle that evoke the lost art of musical comedy... But what really gives this show its style are Bob Crowley's superb designs and Eric Schaeffer's crisp direction... Ian McShane as the devil may not have all the best tunes but, after a long absence from the stage, he overflows with energy and a leering, saloon bar smuttiness. And, amongst the three sex-hungry women, Maria Friedman is outstanding... Joanna Riding is also sharply funny... and Lucie Arnaz cracks wise as the leggy sculptor. Rowe's music may be amiable rather than instantly memorable. But, in a genre that has become top heavy with portentous spectacle, this show gaily reminds us of the musical's traditional mission to delight and divert. Though it may fall off a bit in the second half, it is the best devil invoking musical since Damn Yankees." The Guardian

"...The good thing about The Witches of Eastwick is that you know exactly where you are. The bad thing about it is that you know exactly where you are. John Dempsey (book and lyrics) and Dana P Rowe (music) have written a good, old-fashioned musical comedy (for once the word is not redundant) with a touch of subversion into the mix - a family show with an X-rated subtext. John Dempsey's book is quick-witted, peppered with smart one-liners and played by a cast who know how to land them. Together, he and his partner bed us down in the Broadway tradition with a series of well-integrated but - and here's the rub - all too predictable songs... Even so, the enjoyment factor is high, the production values sky-high. Notwithstanding that this is a small show writ very large, it's good to see Cameron Mackintosh pushing the boat out on fresh talent... The best that can be said of this likeable and beautifully mounted show is that it keeps alive a dying tradition. If only it were also advancing its cause." The Independent

"Musical comedy is a rare species these days, so this likeable rambunctious new show produced by Sir Cameron Mackintosh could prove just the ticket for a slow summer season. I wish the music were better, or more zesty, or even remotely memorable, the narrative more coherent, and the choreography more brilliant, but you can't have everything... McShane is a wonderful surprise, glinting slyly at the audience, leading the townsfolk ever deeper into delirium and seducing the ladies in a red boudoir. And he can really put across a number, even a number that refuses to fly when he launches it. Talking of which the first act ends with a spectacular flying finale as the three gay divorcees zoom into the hallowed auditorium - out, up and away above our heads. My only regret is that their support wires are as visible as the tramlines in Budapest or Manchester... Bob Crowley's designs cleverly conjure New England, and there are moments of genuine magic when a downtown diner is transformed into a go-go jukebox. Otherwise, these witches leave sonic broom for improvement." The Daily Mail

"...Dana P. Rowe's music remains refreshingly tuneful, whether it opts for the energetic and brash or for the soft and slightly soppy. John Dempsey's rhymes are never feeble or silly, though seldom very clever. But I caught myself wishing for a dash of Sondheim or Weill, a pinch more toughness and acerbity, along with the fingernails and frogs in the witches' brew... the evening veers towards sentimentality, and we end with an uplifting ode to personal growth and the merits of sisterhood... Ian McShane's black-haired, black-suited Darryl shimmers and slithers about, a phallic-looking cigar in his mouth, generating enough mocking charisma to explain his coven's allegiance. Friedman guys Sukie's initial gormlessness too much, but does marvels with a patter song that accelerates to 100mph as she sheds her inarticulacy and shyness. Arnaz brings a lovely blend of wit and sensuality to a song in which she mentally fast-forwards to Darryl's bed. Riding has only to unloose her hair and put on a sexy tennis outfit to turn from a starched schoolmarm into maybe the most besotted of them all. I only wish they had more opportunity to be what they could be: full-blooded American hags." The Times

"...[Ian] McShane's red and white striped blazer, black pyjamas and enormous cigars are the most dramatic aspects of his underpowered, droopy performance... At least, Lucie Arnaz's flippantly, wisecracking sculptress, Joanna Riding as the cellist, who sacrifices primness for head-on passion, and Maria Friedman in terrific voice as a girl, forever missing out on the main chance of a man, put on a scintillating theatrical and musical show... Of the 20 songs, some inspiring frenetic choreography by Bob Avian and Stephen Mear, just one, the witty Dirty Laundry, boasts the impact of a hit. And Maria Friedman also plays powerful, poignant vocal gymnastics in Words, Words Words. But though Rowe's score achieves snatches of symphonic excitement and drama, this is a musical where the scenes between songs and music provide most of the fun and amusement." The London Evening Standard

 
 
Albemarle of London is a Founding member of STAR (Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers) and the TAA (Ticket Agents Association).
T.A.A
 
© 2009 Albemarle-London.com | Terms & Conditions