By Jeeves at the Old Laundry Theatre – Nadim Naaman and Bill Champion join line-up

Bill Champion (pictured below) and Nadim Naaman (pictured left) will head the cast of The Old Laundry Theatre’s revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn’s By Jeeves.

Part of the distinctive Lake District venue’s 25th Anniversary Season, the first revival of the musical comedy in more than 20 years will be reuniting members of the creative team from the successful 1996 production led by Ayckbourn who will once again direct.

Ayckbourn’s long-time friend and associate, the Old Laundry’s owner Roger Glossop will design a new set for the intimate 200-seat theatre and Sheila Carter will choreograph. Joining the original team will be musical director Steven Edis, with costumes by Caroline Hughes and lighting by Jason Taylor.

Long-term Ayckbourn collaborator Champion (A Chorus of Disapproval, Sunset Boulevard) will play PG Wodehouse’s long-suffering manservant Jeeves with Naaman (Sweeney Todd), who is currently starring as Raoul in the West End’s 3oth anniversary cast of The Phantom of the Opera, will play the bumbling Bertie Wooster.

The cast will also include: Jamie Baughan (Kinky Boots, West End, Chicago, UK tour); Katie Birtill (Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, UK tour, Sweet Charity, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich) as the cute and spoiled Madelaine Bassett; Howard Chadwick (Peterloo, Brassed Off, Oldham Coliseum) as Madelaine’s controlling father, Judge Watkyn Bassett; Joshua Manning (The End of Something, Old Vic, The BFG, Birmingham Rep) as villain and jelly tycoon Cyrus Budge ; Oliver Maudsley (Where is Peter Rabbit? Old Laundry Theatre, Godspell, Frinton Summer Theatre) as reclusive scientist Gussie Fink-Nottle; Naomi Petersen (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, West End, The Witches of Eastwick, Watermill Theatre) as Bassett’s sweet ward Stiffy Bing; Nigel Richards (The Phantom of the Opera, Martin Guerre, West End) as Wooster’s nerdy friend Bingo Little; and Melle Stewart (Goodnight Mr Tom, West End, Assassins, Menier Chocolate Factory) as hedgehog lover Honoria Glossop.

Described by Lloyd Webber as “the musical that I privately look forward most to seeing” , By Jeeves will open at the Old Laundry in Bowness-on Windermere on Friday 6 October. The production will run until Saturday 4 November with a press night on Monday 9 October.

Announcing details of the production, the Old Laundry Theatre’s directors, Glossop and his theatre producer wife Charlotte Scott, said: “We are really delighted to be putting on this revival of By Jeeves to be directed by Alan Ayckbourn. The original show, which reopened the Stephen Joseph Theatre in 1996, transferred to the West End, and moved across the waters to Washington, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Broadway, was such a fulfilling theatrical enterprise for all the creative team, cast and crew that the idea we can re-visit this piece, with its wit, pace and beautiful songs and present a large-scale production at the Old Laundry Theatre (ten in the cast plus a six-piece live band) is a fitting celebration for our 25th.”

Set in the 1920s and inspired by Wodehouse’s original much-loved stories, By Jeeves debuted in the West End in 1975. Closing after just 30 performances, the show was widely labelled as one of Lloyd Webber’s rare flops. The re-worked version in 1996 however proved a crowd pleaser and it is this version which will play the Old Laundry Theatre.

Angela Thomas


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