Desperately Seeking Susan

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

Previewed 12 October 2007, Opened 15 November 2007, Closed 15 December 2007 at the Novello Theatre in London

Based on the smash hit 1980's romantic comedy film of the same name, and featuring the classic hits of Blondie, the new musical Desperately Seeking Susan in London promises to be the must-see london show of the Autumn.

New York, July 1979. Roberta Glass, a suburban New Jersey housewife, escapes her humdrum life by reading the personal ads placed by Susan, a street-smart New York City drifter, and her freewheeling boyfriend Jay. Through a quirky twist of fate, Roberta and Susan unexpectedly swap lives and are plunged into a madcap world of jewel heists, magic shows and rock'n'roll. The collision of their identities takes them on a wild ride of transformation and discovery until they realise that, just when you think you know where your life is headed, something magical happens and turns it all around... Desperately Seeking Susanem> is a tale of two women, in two cities, and the collision of their worlds. It's a story about taking chances, following dreams and finding your other self. All set to the soundtrack of Blondie's greatest hits and hidden gems.

Alongside Blondie's much loved hits, including Heart of Glass, Call Me, Sunday Girl, The Tide Is High, and Hanging On The Telephone, the Desperately Seeking Susan stage musical also features the new song, Moment of Truth, which has been especially written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein for this London stage musical production.

This stage musical version of Desperately Seeking Susan in London features Emma Williams as 'Susan' (the role played in the film version by Madonna) and Kelly Price as 'Roberta Glass' (the role played in the film version by Rosanna Arquette) along with Leanne Best as 'Leslie Glass', Mark McGee as 'Jay Shea', Alec Newman as 'Dez' and Jonathan Wrather as 'Gary Glass' with Victoria Hamilton-Barritt as 'Maria', Paul Hazel as 'Tina', Steve Houghton as 'Alex Verne' and Steven Serlin as 'Larry Stein' with Lucy Banfield, Matthew Boulton, Chloe Campbell, Matt Flint, Alex Gaumond, Kaisi Hammarlund, Christine Holman, Tousaint Meghie, Chris Piper, Laura Scott, Lincoln Stone and Gemma Whitelam. The show is directed by Angus Jackson with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, designs by Tim Hatley, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and sound by Bobby Aitken and Brian Beasley. Emma Williams' West End theatre credits include creating the role of 'Truly Scrumptious' in the stage musical adaptation of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium 2002). Angus Jackson's London theatre directing credits include Kwame Kwei-Armah's play Elmina's Kitchen (Garrick Theatre 2005).

"It benefits from the strong plot of the film... it is a cut above the normal boy-meets-girl pap of this genre and the principals are competent. Kelly Price is an enthusiastic Roberta and Alec Newman is likeable as her lover Dez, even if Emma Williams struggles to get near the effortless danger that Madonna brought to Susan. Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography is also enjoyably moody but Angus Jackson's production is undermined by some odd design decisions... But the biggest problem is the music, a deafening irritant that gets in the way of the action and actively undercuts the tale of contrasting worlds, inasmuch as the Blondie tempo remains constant whatever the mood or scene." The Daily Express

"I've seen nothing more parasitic than the stage version of Desperately Seeking Susan , an amusingly offbeat movie that now comes to the Novello with the same story, the same lines, everything but the same music, which here mostly consists of old songs by the American band Blondie. And that's not wholly a recommendation... The young Madonna gave maybe her best screen performance as Susan in the 1985 film, and Emma Williams, who takes the role here, is one of the successes of Angus Jackson's production... There's nothing wrong with the other performers either, among them Kelly Price's Roberta, Jonathan Wrather as her slimy, two-timing husband, and Alec Newman as the affable bohemian who gives her help and, inevitably, love and fulfilment. But where, oh where, is the show's imagination?" The Times

"Desperately Seeking Susan is desperately seeking so much: drama, power, heart, art, wit, even passable acting or basic audibility, for heaven's sake. This being the latest in a long list of compilation musicals, the one thing it's got going for it is the Blondie connection. But while Debbie Harry has never failed to shoehorn herself into sexy, zippy outfits, her upbeat brassy pop numbers can't be appropriately shrunk-fit for a feeble stage version of a screwball romcom movie... It's a mistaken-identity fantasy about doe-eyed Roberta, a suburban housewife from New Jersey, who becomes fixated by a trampy drifter named Susan. Not a great movie, although Madge and Rosanna Arquette had their cute moments, and not improved here by Kelly Price's Roberta primly sitting on a park bench, reading the personals and bursting into Dreaming. Nor, a scene later, when she is being humiliated by her horrid husband, Gary Glass, bemoaning her lot with, yes, you've guessed it, Heart Of Glass... It all ends happily ever after with uptight, innocent Roberta finding her inner punk courtesy of tufty haired Dez, and Emma Williams's insufficiently insouciant belting bolter Susan settling down with her rock-star boyfriend. They all jointogether for a far from rousing 'The tide is high and I'm holding on. I'm gonnabe your number one.' Not clever, not funny, just a crass waste of Blondie'sraunchy disco rhythms." The Mail on Sunday

The film version of Desperately Seeking Susan is set in 1985, but this stage musical version sets the story six years earlier, in 1979. The stage show's writer and conceiver Peter Michael Marino said: "The story is Shakespearean in its mistaken - identity - class - system - love - interest - farcical structure. Its quirky characters desperately want something - from true love to a pair of earrings. It seemed like a perfect vehicle for a musical. Blondie's songs are rebellious, yet positive. They don't write 'I hate you' songs, they write 'I want you' songs. They tell poetic stories with a passionate, driving heartbeat that always moves forward. The songs and the film are both full of optimism, so I optimistically decided that there should indeed be a musical of Desperately Seeking Susan with the songs of Blondie... I aimed to capture the spirit of the original film, focusing on the colliding theme of the city and the suburbs, and energizing it with the rhythms of Blondie's music - which ranges from disco to pop, reggae to punk, and New Wave to rap. Most of the songs were written in the late 70s, so I adapted the film's setting from glossy 1985, to gritty 1979, a time when spirited downtown artists fought the middle-class preppy movement, and vice versa." Peter added "The musical content of the show stays close to the original Blondie sound and there has been virtually no tampering with the lyrical content."

Desparately Seeking Susan the musical features music and lyrics by Blondie who originally emerged from New York's celebrated late 1970s New Wave punk scene. They scored their first major hits with reggae, rock/disco and hip-hop songs. The original Blondie was formed in 1974 by art student/guitarist Chris Stein and ex-folkie and ex-Max's Kansas City waitress, vocalist/ songwriter Deborah Harry. Drummer Clem Burke and keyboard player Jimmy Destri joined in 1975. The band played the fabled New York downtown circuit of CBGB's, Max's Kansas City and Mothers, amassing a major following before recording their first album, the self titled Blondie. Other key albums include Plastic Letters, Parallel Lines, Eat to the Beat and Autoamerican. Their hit singles include Denis, Picture This, Hanging on the Telephone, Heart of Glass, Sunday Girl, Dreaming, Atomic, Call Me and The Tide Is High. The band produced The Hunter (1982), including the single Island of Lost Souls, their final US hit before Stein's serious illness led to the group's hiatus. Sixteen years later, they reformed to play a concert and made the album No Exit, highlighted by the hit Maria, which went to No.1 in 14 countries. They continue to tour and make music together as their legacy grows.

The ultimate pop/rock, New Wave diva, and lead singer of Blondie, Deborah Harry has set the mould, incorporating everything she learned from culture pioneers like Andy Warhol, Giorgio Moroder and Fab Five Freddy into her fashion, look and sound. With Blondie, she and Chris Stein brought the worlds of disco and rock together with the songs Heart of Glass and Call Me, and broke ground by combining hip-hop and pop on Rapture. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards co-produced her first release as a solo artist, Koo Koo, in 1981. She continues to defy expectations with such genre-busting efforts as French Kissing in the USA, Rush Rush, Rain and The Jam Was Moving. Before there were Madonna and Gwen Stefani, Debbie Harry was rock's reigning blonde pin-up icon, and both are quick to acknowledge her inspiration, as are countless female (and male) rockers who have since formed bands. Necessary Evil is her sixth solo album, and first since 1993's Debravation. In the early 1970s, guitarist Chris Stein met Debbie Harry when he came across the local New York group The Stilettos, which Harry sang lead for at the time. When that group disbanded, Stein and Harry formed Blondie and, within a few years, achieved their first US hit with the disco smash Heart of Glass. Blondie played to enthusiastic audiences around the world and sold tens of millions of albums. Though Debbie Harry was the focal point of the band for many, it was guitarist Stein who played a key role in crafting most of the group's well-known songs. Before he fell ill in 1982 from a rare condition from which he would later fully recover, Stein founded his own record company, Animal Records, which released Iggy Pop's Zombie Birdhouse, an album Stein also produced and played on. During his illness, the label shut down, but Stein remained a contributing force to Harry's solo records of the 1980s and 1990s. Stein, Harry and two original members of Blondie reunited in 1999, and in 2006 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Desperately Seeking Susan in London at the Novello Theatre previewed from 12 October 2007, opened on 15 November 2007 and closed on 15 December 2007.