TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?

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Hey all. I have Lionel Bart fever, and today I am reading about his life, career, and especially his back-breaking effort getting TWANG!! going. Does anyone have any history, reviews, or photos on this production?

I understand it was immediately rejected by critics and audiences, and sunk Bart's personal fortune subsequently. Very sad. Does anyone have recommendations on a book that candidly explores this era in his career? I just purchased the book "Bart!" on Amazon, so that should get me started on the macro of his life.
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TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?

Not the happiest few months at the poor old Shaftesbury.
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TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?

Babs and Lionel
Updated On: 12/28/10 at 07:36 PM
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The much sought after LP.
TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?
Updated On: 12/28/10 at 07:40 PM
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The OLC recording wasn't originally on TER, though, was it? I recall seeing it was on MGM or ABC...?

EDIT: oh, and thanks for the photos. Babs looks kinda Lady-Gaga-ish to me here.

edited EDIT: And TWANG!! closed after 6 weeks so the Shaftesbury wasn't unhappy for TOO long.
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Updated On: 12/28/10 at 08:01 PM
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Did this one have its out of town try out at the Manchester Palace?
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Yes SADM2, and it should have closed there- not my words but the producers!

It was only released on TER briefly and was withdrawn. There were very few sold.

I have the original, I think its Decca???
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TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?

Babs and one of her understudies!!!
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Its every note as bad as you've been told- believe me!
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So i take it the critics in Manchester hated it as well, didnt it have quite a long run at the Palace?
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I found a mention of TWANG!! in this article from The Telegraph:
The 10 worst musicals of all time
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'Twang!' had a 6 week try out in Manchester at the Palace Theatre. It was a try out and was never meant to be reviewd but within days the stories of the disaster that was unfolding nightly were making headlines in every national paper.
'Twang!' was written by Lionel Bart, based on the character of the legendary outlaw Robin Hoodand was seen as his big successor to 'Oliver!.
More famous now for its disastrous box-office failure.
It opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London's West End on the 20th of December 1965 and ran for just three weeks.
Bart wrote both the music and lyrics and also directed and produced it together with Joan Littlewood. Bart and television writer Harvey Orkin had collaborated on the book of the musical.

The plot of Twang!! concerned the efforts of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men to break into Nottingham Castle in a variety of preposterous disguises, in order to prevent a marriage between the nymphomaniac court tart Delphina and the hairy Scots laird Roger the Ugly, arranged for the purpose of securing the loan of Scottish troops for bad Prince John.

'Twang!' brought together a cast that included the Littlewood's Theatre Workshop’s strongest players including Ronnie Corbett, Barbara Windsor and James Booth.
Booth had won the coveted Robin Hood role and it had the potential to be a great vehicle for him, and he was repeatedly assured that the part would be expanded to starring dimensions.
Also featured in the cast were Bernard Bresslaw, Maxwell Shaw, Toni Eden and Philip Newman.

'Twang!' was a disaster from the word go.
The script was weak and stayed that way, especially the part of Robin Hood, despite constant, confusing rewrites. Rehearsals were dis-organised and fraught with tension. In front of the whole company, Littlewood accused Bart of being too strung-out on LSD to fulfill his creative responsibilities. The day before press night, Littlewood quit the company. A “theatre doctor”, American Burt Shevelove, was brought in to salvage things, leading to still more confusing changes, but nothing helped.
The show opened in disarray and closed soon after, to universal scorn and derision. What angered the public in previews was that the scenes had no relation to the songs, and the tabloid predictions of doom only heightened the bad reception. Opening night was a fiasco, the musical director, Ken Moule, collapsed of exhaustion and he had failed to orchestrate the second act. The house lights kept going up and down throughout the performance and vicious arguments were overheard backstage.
Two songs were cut out in the hours before the curtain rose and a decision had been made to camp everything up - even to add some transvestism.
The show had been intended as a romp and nothing more. It aimed to satirize the Crusades, the attitude of the Church and the human flaw of wanting to turn an outlawed man into a kind of heroic saint.
Orkin believed the show failed because they failed to establish the exact butt of that satire, it was all too vague, unfocused and inconsequential.
The critics were angered by the lack of heroics in this version of the Robin Hood legend and the pseudo-pantomime delivery. It has been noted that 'Twang!' did have some very effective musical sequences - a scene around a gallows became a morris dance around a maypole.

The critical fraternity were unaware that Bart had invested his entire personal fortune in 'Twang!' and he lost everything every single penny and more!. He was devastated by the failure of Twang!', some saying never to fully get over it as it led to his eventually dependancy of drugs and alcohol.
James Booth said that he had never felt good about 'Twang!'. Against his own better judgment he had allowed himself to be flattered and cajoled into accepting the half-baked part of Robin Hood when he could have been doing other things. He voiced his concerns over and over again, sticking with 'Twang!' only from a sense of obligation. He had made no money during the year it took to prepare for Twang!.
In contrast, for Ronnie Corbett the failure of 'Twang!' was a lucky break - it meant he was free to participate in 'The Frost Report' which was his first real breakthrough in television. He says of it "in retrospect its failure was as important to my career as any of my successes"
Barbra Windsor refuse to talk about the event.

The song list as it appeared on the LP is as follows but it is rumored to contain a few numbers that were cut etc.

Welcome to Sherwood Forest
What Makes a Star?
Make an Honest Woman of Me
To The Woods
Roger The Ugly
Dream Child
With Bells On
Twang!!
Unseen Hands
Sighs
You Can't Catch Me!
Follow The Leader
Wander
Whose Little Girl Are You?
I'll Be Hanged
Updated On: 12/31/10 at 09:45 PM
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Wasn't Babs involved with Bart?

He sounds like Lloyd-Webber at this stage of his career. Too delusional through one thing and another to see the problems with his shows.
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TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?

I've read that article somewhere. Very interesting. Thanks.

Found a great version of the original LP cover.

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Songwords!?
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Must be the LSD talking.
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Some great photographs in this thread. It's easy to forget just how highly regarded Barbara Windsor was as a stage actress in the 60s before Carry On films and EastEnders from the work she had done at Stratford East.

TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?
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That 10 Worst Musicals list is rather curious. Some of the usual suspects, but I actually have only read good things about Hunting of the Snark. I think either Snark or Moby Dick could easily be replaced by Behind the Iron Mask, Boy Band or Murderous Instincts.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
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Yeah, I think that list is more like the most high-profile flops of the West End rather than the worst.

How about Out Of The Blue (1994)? I just heard about this one, and wonder how it is received. I'm considering getting the cast recording.
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I was lucky to see Barbra Windsor do many, many shows before Eastenders got her.

She did major tours in the 80s of 'Rattle Of A Simple Man'. Adelaide in 'Guys And Dolls', a stunning turn as Jane in 'Calamity Jane' and many more.
She has done a panto almost every year since the 60s right thru till the middle of her stint in 'Eastenders'.
She did endless season of old time music hall across the UK and it was at one of these back in the early 90s at Brick Lane I met here after a show when she was more than happy to spend another 2 hours with people in the bar. That night I asked her what she was doing on the near future and she said she had a musical lined up (it never happened) and also that she would love a cameo in 'Eastenders' - well within a year her wish was granted and look at her now.

If you can get to see her doing panto its a lesson in what a real panto star is like.

TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?

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WHAT A CAST!

TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?

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Updated On: 1/4/11 at 07:22 PM
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TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?

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'Sing A Rude Song' Garrick Theatre with Maurice Gibb of The Bee Gees!
Updated On: 1/4/11 at 07:43 PM
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TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?

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Updated On: 1/4/11 at 07:45 PM
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TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?

1963 with James Booth (father of Cheri Blair) who she shared the stage with in 'Twang!'
Updated On: 1/4/11 at 07:52 PM
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Some say Barbra's finest moment.....




TWANG!! (1965) reviews? articles? photos? Bart!?