The talented cast of the PLOS production of Betty Blue Eyes are under no illusions about who is likely to win the hearts of audiences at their London amateur premiere next week " they fully expect to be upstaged by a farmyard animal!
Bettys beautiful, and Im afraid all eyes will be on her! admitted director Damian Sandys, who managed to secure special permission from Cameron Mackintosh to bring the Stiles and Drewe musical to Putney Arts Theatre.
Betty, of course, is a beguiling, blue-eyed pig, and the eponymous heroine of the musical, set in the post-war austerity Britain of 1947.
Based on the 1984 Alan Bennett film, A Private Function, the musical, with songs by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, was originally performed in 2011 at the Novello Theatre in the West End with Sarah Lancashire as Joyce, Reece Sheersmith as Gilbert - and as the voice of Betty the pig " Kylie Minogue.
And while the PLOS production lacks the star power of the pint-sized antipodean popstrel, it does have an extremely life-like and alarmingly attractive puppet, brought to life by three cast members.
Director Sandys is excited to be bringing Betty to London, having fallen in love with the production on its original West End run.
This is a show with real heart, and its great to be performing something which is so quintessentially British, says Sandys. Its a show with everything; a great score, fantastic characters and a great book. And while its ultimately an uplifting comedy, there are moments of real pathos.
"There are often a lot of misconceptions about this show; some people think it is a musical version of Babe, the talking pig, which couldn't be further from the truth! Whilst Betty plays an important part in the proceedings, ultimately it is a story about real, ordinary folk and the desperate situations they can be pushed to. In our production, the focus is definitely on the humanity of these characters and their emotions."
The story centres on the small, northern town of Shepardsford, in the days following the war. With rationing and unemployment taking its toll, the only light on the horizon is the impending marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. And while the Prime Minister assures the public its fair shares for all the reality is somewhat different, with local officials taking far more than their fair share.
Members of the Town Council are fattening up a highly illegal pig " Betty - for a banquet in honour of the royal couple; this very private function is going to be the social event of the season and when humble chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers and his determined wife Joyce are left off the guest list, the couple take drastic action to get their fair share of the banquets illegal pork roast.
The musical features a memorable score with some stunning ensemble numbers, notably the rousing Fair Shares for All, Another Little Victory and the moving ballads Magic Fingers and What Kind of Man.