Irving Berlin’s family, including the great composer’s daughter Linda Emmet, paid a special visit to watch new touring musical The Smallest Show on Earth at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, meeting up with the cast and producers Brian Eastman and Christabel Albery.
The new musical comedy is based on the StudioCanal Peter Sellers/Margaret Rutherford film The Smallest Show on Earth. The stage show, which has a book by Thom Southerland and Paul Alexander, contains some of Irving Berlin’s greatest songs, including ‘Blue Skies’, ‘Shakin’ the Blues Away’, ‘Let Yourself Go’, ‘Steppin’ Out With My Baby’ and ‘How Deep is the Ocean’, as well as some rediscovered gems.
Director Thom Southerland said: “Berlin’s music provides the perfect accompaniment to our 1950s story, not only in lyric, but in style and period too.”
The UK tour of The Smallest Show on Earth will begin performances on Friday 25 September at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, before playing Coventry, High Wycombe, Glasgow, Plymouth, Crewe, Swansea and Malvern.
Newly-weds Matt and Jean Spenser inherit a cinema and think their fortune is made. But the Bijou, better known as the fleapit, is the victim of a dirty tricks campaign from its rival flashy neighbour The Grand. The Bijou’s benevolent manageress Mrs Fazackalee and unreliable projectionist Mr Quill combine with Matt and Jean to outwit the opposition and restore the Bijou to its former glory.
StudioCanal’s The Smallest Show On Earth was a 1957 British Lion film written by William Rose (Genevieve, The Ladykillers) and directed by Basil Dearden (Blue Lamp, League of Gentlemen). It starred Peter Sellers as Mr Quill and Margaret Rutherford as Mrs Fazackalee, along with Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers as Matt and Jean.
The cast of the new musical comedy will be led by Liza Goddard (Take Three Girls, Bergerac, Grandpa in My Pocket) as Mrs Fazackalee and Brian Capron (Coronation Street, Where the Heart Is, Grange Hill) as Mr Quill.
Also in the cast will be Haydn Oakley as Matthew Spenser, Laura Pitt-Pulford as Jean Spenser, Ricky Butt as Ethel Hardcastle, Philip Rham as Albert Hardcastle, Christina Bennington as Marlene Hardcastle, Sam O’Rourke as Tom Fazackalee and Matthew Crowe as Robin Carter, with Leo Andrew, Jacob Chapman, Matthew Dale, Nova Skipp and Leah West.
The UK tour of The Smallest Show On Earth will be directed by Thom Southerland (Parade, Mack & Mabel, Victor/Victoria, Titanic) with set and costume design by David Woodhead, choreography by Lee Proud, lighting design by Howard Hudson, sound design by Andrew Johnson, musical supervision by Gareth Valentine, orchestrations by Mark Cumberland and musical direction by Mark Aspinall.
The UK tour of The Smallest Show on Earth – A new Irving Berlin Musical is produced by Brian Eastman, Christabel Albery and Mercury Theatre, Colchester, by special arrangement with StudioCanal.