Jessie Wallace, Gary Kemp & More Set for FINGS AIN'T WOT THEY USED T'BE at Stratford East
BAFTA nominated Jessie Wallace (EastEnders) as Lil and Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet, The Krays, The Bodyguard) as PC Collins will lead the cast in Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be, with Sarah Middleton as Rosie, Ruth Alfie Adams as Brenda, Will Barton as Percy and Suzie Chard as Betty, with further casting to be announced shortly.
Coinciding with Joan Littlewood's Centenary, and alongside a new production of Oh What a Lovely War, Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be is returning to Theatre Royal Stratford East in new version by Olivier-nominated Elliot Davis (Loserville, Soho Cinders). The show will be directed by the multi award-winning Terry Johnson (Duck House, La Cage Aux Folles, End of the Rainbow, Little Voice), with set and costume design by William Dudley and choreography by Nathan M Wright. The production will run from 8 May to 8 June with press night on 20 May. Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be is produced by Theatre Royal Stratford East,Elliot Davis, Paul Tyrer & Jamie Clark for The Booking Office, and Ros Povey Productions with casting by David Grindrod Associates.
This famous show was initially developed in 1959 by Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop Company at Theatre Royal Stratford East, before transferring to the West End's Garrick Theatre where it ran for 886 performances and won an Evening Standard Award for Best Musical. The show launched the career ofBarbara Windsor and provided the name for popular hit song by Max Bygraves.
Set at the end of the 1950's, preceding the birth of rock and roll and the Beatles, Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'be is a witty and warm-hearted musical set within an East End underworld of gamblers, spivs, prostitutes and Teddy boys. Written by ex-con Frank Norman, the show tells the tale of Fred, a loveable rogue, who comes out of prison to find he is not quite the king of the manor he once was.
Kerry Michael, Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East said: "In celebration of Joan Littlewood's 100th birthday year, we're looking forward to reviving this populist classic. It's an exciting contrast to Oh What A Lovely War and demonstrates the great breadth of work undertaken by Joan and her Theatre Workshop Company."
Fings was initially discovered by Joan Littlewood, who began directing the show as a play, before engaging the legendary writer and composer Lionel Bart to write songs for the show. Known for his seminal work on Oliver! (written three years after Fings), Bart grew up in London's East End and was renowned for his use of cockney wit and charm within his songs.
Now, with support from both the Lionel Bart Foundation and Samuel French Publishers, the award-winning composer and writer Elliot Davis has adapted the original Frank Norman script with new material and songs from the hugely popular and commercial Lionel Bart songbook, including If I Say I Love You Do You Mind?,the hit number Bart penned for Anthony Newley, Living Doll and Sparrers Can't Sing a song he wrote for the 1963 Joan Littlewood directed film of the same name.
When asked to describe Fings, Joan Littlewood, described it as "Guys and Dolls but with its flies undone." Elliot Davis said: "Our production hopes to make Fings find its rightful place in the catalogue of Great British Musicals. Ultimately the goal is to take this production on a National UK tour for the benefit of audiences across the whole of the UK!"