Music Theatre of Wichita to Stage U.S. Premiere of BETTY BLUE EYES, 7/24-28
Music Theatre of Wichita will present the U.S. Premiere of the new musical Betty Blue Eyes. The first new musical produced by LES MISERABLES and Phantom of the Opera producer Cameron Mackintosh in more than a decade, Betty Blue Eyes celebrated a critically acclaimed run in London in 2011. Music Theatre of Wichita is the first North American theatre to be licensed for performance of the musical, and the first professional theatre anywhere to stage the show since its West End closing.
Based on the British film "A Private Function" starring Maggie Smith, the musical tells the story of a small town in post-WWII Britain preparing for the upcoming marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip, and an ambitious couple who kidnap a pig named Betty, which is being secretly raised by local corrupt officials to provide the main course at a celebratory banquet.
The libretto for the stage musical, which the London Times called "A Brand New Smash Hit!," is by the Emmy Award winning writing team of Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman ("An Early Frost," "Sisters"). Betty Blue Eyes is their first musical play.
However, it was the musical score by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Mary Poppins, Honk!) which initially attracted the attention of MTWichita Producing Artistic Director Wayne Bryan. Bryan, who is both producing and directing the production, explains "our friendship with authors Stiles and Drewe began when MTWichita produced Honk! in 2001, and then solidified when we created the American Cast Album. I believe our audiences will be delighted by the comic invention in this new musical. All the hard-scrabble characters foster lavish fantasies about how their lives might be different, and each fantasy is the basis of a terrific musical sequence. And the songs in the show are just as tuneful
and clever as the songs our patrons loved in Honk!"
Drew Cohen, President of Music Theatre International, stated that "Wichita is the perfect place to launch this new musical. [MTI] could not be more delighted that Music Theatre of Wichita will be producing the North American premiere of Betty Blue Eyes this summer. Over the years, MTWichita's productions have proven to be of the highest quality with excellent performers, clear and imaginative direction, and wonderful sets and costumes. It's more than that, though. MTWichita exudes a warmth and sense of community that is truly special."
MTWichita Board President David Hawkins added "Music Theatre of Wichita is honored to be the first theatre licensed to perform Betty Blue Eyes in the U.S., and proud of what that says about the reputation we've built for staging high-quality musicals in the heart of the Midwest."
Colorful sets for the production are being designed by Robert A. Kovach, all new "vintage" props (including the all-important and highly expressive pig named Betty) are being created by Michelle A. Bisbee, and 1947 fashions are coming to life through the imagination of designer Dixon Reynolds. 1940s-style choreography is provided by choreographic team of Lyndy Franklin Smith and Jeromy Smith. Leading players include Broadway veterans Tracy Lore as ambitious Joyce Chilvers, Larry Raben as her mild-mannered husband Gilbert, and Mary Stout as Joyce's Mother Dear, plus popular theatrical caricature artist Justin Robertson ("Squigs") as the Betty-besotted Henry.
Evening performances run Wednesday July 24 -Saturday July 27 at 8pm and Sunday July 28 at 7pm; matinee performances are Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. All shows take place at Century II Performing Arts Center. Tickets may be obtained by calling the box office (316.265.3107) or visiting the Music Theatre of Wichita website (www.MTWichita.org).