The Beautiful Game

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 5 September 2000, Opened 26 September 2000, Closed 1 September 2001 at the Cambridge Theatre in London

Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical The Beautful Game in London.

Belfast, 1969. As the sixties draw to a close, life is just beginning for a gorup of teenagers. Among them is Father O'Donnel's football team, including Del and John who both have enough talent to make it big. Their girlfriends, Mary and Christine, are dreaming about the future, fearful of the way their world is changing. Yearning for a time when they can live and love in peace, they all learn that to escape from bigotry and intolerance will take all the courage they can muster. This new musical tells the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation.

The Beautiful Game has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics and book by Ben Elton. This production is directed by Robert Carsen with choreography by Meryl Tankard and designs by Michael Levine. This musical has also been performed, with revisions, under the title The Boys in the Photo. Ben Elton's West End credits the comedy Gasping at the Haymarket Theatre in 1990.

"Andrew Lloyd Webber's score is his best for some time. It is lightened and pepped up by mild rock rhythms, echoes of football chants and (more especially) an infusion of Irish folk motifs. Two or three of the ballads could well outlive the show itself: Our Kind of Love, If This is What We're Fighting For and God's Own Country. The dancing is a plus, too. We're not talking West Side Story, but Meryl Tankard's choreography supplies an adequate dose of dynamism. And if none of the performances is captivating, they all maintain a decent professional level... Of the true historical and political complexities of Northern Ireland, we learn almost nothing. But why should we have expected to? Musicals are meant to entertain; there are better ways of dealing with serious subjects." The Sunday Telegraph

"The London theatre is gloriously unpredictable, and there are weeks when it sends out its forces not as single spies but in big, big battalions. The greatest fanfare preceded Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical, The Beautiful Game, and ALW, who now has five big shows running in London, romps home with his best work since Cats and his finest piece of musical theatre ever... The subject brings the best out of ALW. From the first moment, when the sound of Andy Findon's flute, lyrical but edgy, rises from the orchestra pit against the soft thud of percussion, you know the Irish influence on this score will be much more than just decoration." The Sunday Times

"It's the story of love across the sectarian divide in Belfast in the late Sixties and early Seventies, a story of the hatred that destroys dreams, families, innocent people. The collaboration by Andrew Lloyd Webber (score) and Ben Elton (libretto) is not, alas, match of the day... Still, give the lads their due: they have tackled a serious, important subject - a bold, brave, commendable effort - but, on the day, the goal eluded them. I walked away untouched by the content and the characters... Lloyd Webber's music musters pipes and drums, football chants and anthems and folksy bits of this and that but, for all his efforts, it sounds remarkably like Sunset Boulevard with Irish embroidery, played and replayed to the point of irretrievable pulpiness... However, the choreography - the ballet of football, with every player ducking and diving, sniffing and spitting, kick-dancing and Riverdancing in his own way - is superb, the cast of match-fit youngsters have talent and energy and act their boots off, and the whole is staged with stark and striking simplicity and economy against black brick walls." The Mail on Sunday

The Beautiful Game in London at the Cambridge Theatre previewed from 5 September 2000, opened on 26 September 2000 and closed on 1 September 2001