It is 1947, war has ended but Britain’s long-suffering citizens are suffering under the burden of food rationing, high unemployment and the coldest winter for decades.
The only bright spark on the horizon is the impending marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Enter Betty, an adorable pig who is being illegally reared to ensure local dignitaries of a small community in Yorkshire can celebrate the Royal Wedding with a lavish banquet whilst the local population make do with Spam.
‘Betty Blue Eyes’ is an utterly British musical, full of eccentric characters, such as odd couple Gilbert Chilvers – an humble chiropodist, and his wife Joyce, a nobody determined to be somebody; Inspector Wormold – an obsessive destroyer of illegal meat; Mother Dear – “She’s 74 and ravenous”; along with a weird assortment of bullies, spivs and snobs, and of course, Betty the pig.
‘Betty Blue Eyes’, directed by Sasha Regan, is the first in-house production at The Union Theatre since Covid.
It has a deliciously infectious, toe-tapping, retro contemporary score by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe with a book by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, adapted and expanded the story from Alan Bennett and Malcolm Mowbray’s hilariously funny and sharply observed comic film ‘A Private Function’.
Premiering in 2011, ‘Betty Blue Eyes’ received nominations for ‘Best New Musical’ in the Laurence Olivi- er Awards, The Evening Standard Awards and the WhatsOnStage.com Awards.
Stiles & Drewe said: “‘Betty’ was one of the most enjoyable shows of our 40-year career, both to write, develop and to have produced. We are thrilled that she’ll be able to bat her blue eyes once more at the Union Theatre, as our new King takes to the throne, the city will once again be buzzing with street parties and very Private Functions. Not seen in London since her run at the Novello Theatre in 2011, three cheers and welcome back, ‘Betty’!”
The cast is led by Sam Kipling (Tasting Notes) as Gilbert Chilvers and Amelia Atherton (Waitress) as Joyce Chilvers, alongside Jayne Ashley (Cilla) as Mother Dear, David Pendlebury (Sweeney Todd) as Inspector Wormold, Stuart Simons (Passion) as Dr Swaby, recent graduate Josh Perry as Henry Allardyce,
Tom Holt (A Tropical Tale) as Francis Lockwood, Emma Jane Fearnley making her professional debut as Mrs Roach / Ensemble, Jade Marvin (Six) as Mrs Lester / Ensemble and Katie Stasi (The Wizard of Oz) as Mrs Turnbull / Ensemble. The role of Veronica Allardyce will be played by members of the Union Youth Theatre: Nellie Regan, Ava Jennings-Grant and Coco Bennett.
The company is completed by Laurel Dougall, Aimée McQueen, Shannon Farrell, Hannah Lawton, Kane Stone, Jonny Weston, Georgia Boothman and George Dawes.