Armitage to o'see new version of 1937 musical
LONDON — “Me and My Girl,” one of the longest-running Brit tuners of the 1980s, will receive a major West End revival next spring.
Alex Armitage, chief exec of the Noel Gay Organization in London, will produce a new £2.7 million ($4.4 million) version of the show to open May 11, with previews from April 29. The New London Theater, home for several decades to “Cats,” is the likely venue.
“Me and My Girl” last opened in London in 1985 at the Adelphi Theater, directed by the late Mike Ockrent. The restored staging of a 1937 Brit musical mainstay made stars out of leads Robert Lindsay and a then-unknown Emma Thompson, fresh from Cambridge U. Show — budgeted at the time just under £700,000 — ran eight years, returning its original investment 600%.
Among the various replacements over time were Gary Wilmot, now starring in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” on the West End, and multiple Olivier Award winner Joanna Riding, who most recently played Mary Poppins in the read-through of the still-aborning stage musical.
The inevitable Broadway version ran three years at the Marriott Marquis and found a New York audience for its quintessentially English tale of a working-class cutup who becomes an earl. Production, with its revised book by, among others, Stephen Fry, won 1987 Tonys for leading players Lindsay, repeating his London turn as the Lambeth Cockney Bill Snibson, and Maryann Plunkett (as well as for Gillian Gregory’s choreography).
New production will be directed by rising young helmer Rachel Kavanaugh, who has worked for the Royal Shakespeare Co. and at the Open Air Theater in Regent’s Park, and choreographed by Stephen Mear, whose credits range from “The Witches of Eastwick” and the new revival of “Anything Goes” to late-2004 West End entry “Mary Poppins.” The designer is Peter McKintosh (“Brand,” “A Woman of No Importance”).
No casting has yet been announced, but producer Armitage said, “This is a show that creates stars rather than has stars in it” — in London, at least. On Broadway, proven Tony winner Jim Dale was Lindsay’s replacement.
Armitage is the son of the show’s original producer, Richard Armitage, who died in 1987.