Tell Me On a Sunday has always commanded a loyal following as the 1979 collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Don Black produced a number of still-popular songs, not least the title number and the even bigger hit ‘Take That Look Off Your Face’.
Even so, the news that, due to public demand, this week’s London revival with the original solo star Marti Webb, now in her 70th year, has sold out its short run at the St James Theatre (7–14 January) and will transfer to the Duchess for a further two weeks (18 February–1 March) comes as a welcome surprise.
Originally written as an album and then a 1980 TV special for Webb, it later became the front half of the two-parter Song and Dance which ran for 781 performances from 1982 at the Palace Theatre.
Tell Me On a Sunday, a one-act song cycle, tells of the ups-and-downs of a London girl newly arrived in New York. Brimming with optimism, she sets out to find success, companionship and love. But as she weaves her way through the maze of the city and her own anxieties, frustrations and heartaches, she begins to wonder if perhaps she’s been looking for love in the wrong places.
The album got to No. 2 in the charts and the single ‘Take That Look Off Your Face’ reached No. 3 in Britain and No. 1 in Ireland. Other big numbers included the humorous ‘Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad’, ‘Let Me Finish’ and ‘Sheldon Bloom’.
After the show was brought back to London in 2003 as a vehicle for Denise Van Outen, Webb took over the role again for the UK tour. The role has also been played by Lulu, Liz Robertson, EastEnders star Patsy Palmer, former Steps vocalist Faye Tozer, Claire Sweeney and, in the States, by Bernadette Peters.
Webb is established as one of Britain’s most popular stars, with her leading roles in numerous West End musicals including Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, Half a Sixpence, Oliver!, Godspell, The Card, The Good Companions, Evita, Cats, The Seven Deadly Sins for the English National Opera, and Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Shaftesbury Theatre.
Tell Me On a Sunday – presented by St James Theatre Productions Ltd, Barry Satchwell-Smith and Robert Mackintosh – plays at the St James in Victoria from 7–14 January and at the Duchess from 18 February–1 March. Duchess tickets from £37.50 to £80 (for a Premium after-show meet-and-greet with Webb) are now on sale.
Also coming up at the St James Theatre are the Alex Parker production of Sondheim’s Putting It Together (14 January–1 February) and the UK premiere of Tony Award-winning musical Urinetown (22 February–3 May).