La Cava

Previewed 22 May 2000, Opened 8 June 2000, Closed 22 July 2000 at te Victoria Palace Theatre
Transferred 21 August 2000, Closed 3 February 2001 at the Piccadilly Theatre

The new musical La Cava in London. Set in 8th century Spain and Morocco, La Cava is the story of Florinda, an innocent young girl, and Roderich, the all-powerful King she sets out to destory. The eternal themes of passion, loyalty and betrayal mixed with sex, politics and power, make for a tale as relevant today as it was all those centuries ago. This new musical promises soaring melodies and spectacular settings as it sweeps us through the battlefields of desire and destruction. 'La Cava' means 'the harlot' in Spanish.

The original cast features Oliver Tobias as 'King Roderic' and Julie-Alanah Brighten as 'Florinda Espatorias' with David Bardsley as 'General Julian Espatorias', Paul Keating as 'Agon', Marilyn Cutts as 'Queen Exilona', Patrick Romer as 'Archbishop Oppas' and Joshua Bancel as 'Tariq The Moor' along with Louisa McCarthy as 'Isabel', Chris Mellon as 'Ezzak Mendez', Daniel Redmond as 'Somal', Richard Woodford as 'Marcos', Luke Evans as 'Theo' and Claire Massie as 'The Governess Gurda'. The original cast also included Ben Forster in the Ensemble. Directed by Steven Dexter with choreography by Mitch Sebastian, sets by Francis O'Connor, costumes by Paul Clarke, lighting by Chris Ellis and sound by Clement Rawling. Musical with music by Laurence O'Keefe, lyrics by John Claflin and Laurence O'Keefe and book by Dana Broccoli with additional music by Stephen Keeling and additional lyrics by Shaun McKenna.

This production, which had a pre-West End try-out at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, was originally scheduled to open at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 1 June 2000, with public previews from 15 May - but this was delayed by one week to allow additional time to make changes to the musical in readiness for the West End opening which was moved to 8 June 2000.

"It's a cracking tale - a rare thing in a musical - of girl-power, of passion, of forbidden love, of vengeance and heroism, of religious bigotry and betrayal... It's action-packed, explosive stuff. So no wonder Dana Broccoli spotted its potential. Her novel was snapped up and turned into an atmospheric, exciting and unpretentious musical imaginatively staged with a big romantic sweep, a lush score and fabulously choreographed fighting. There's comedy, too, in the scenes at the Spanish court where the girls are finished off, Lucy Clayton-style, and taught to saunter and curtsy and, presumably, how to get in and out of an 8th Century cart without revealing their knickers... Oliver Tobias, a Seventies stud in the mould of Oliver Reed, is cast perfectly as the hunky chain-male (sic) king and Julie-Alanah Brighten's Florinda is a thoroughly modern heroine. There's the odd clunk here and there, but on the whole, it's thoroughly Moorish." The Mail On Sunday

"Mega-musicals usually have sawdust and treacle where their brains should be. Dana Broccoli's saga of passion and martial glory in 8th-century Visigothic Spain actually has more promise than most, but a curiously undernourished plot proves fatal in the end. A pity, because even though Laurence O'Keefe and Stephen Keeling's lush score lacks individuality, the unusual setting and the tensions between venal Christians and unloveable Moors gives the evening a certain tragic dignity. Francis O'Connor's striking sets convey a sense of grandeur without lapsing into Hollywood kitsch... Oliver Tobias brings quiet dignity to a woefully underwritten role.

"Oliver Tobias plays a medieval Spanish king who beds his best friend's daughter, played by the stunning Julie-Alanah Brighten. That he looks old enough to be her father doesn't help and neither does the corny script. Camelot it isn't, but it is lavishly staged with some stirring music and a couple of powerful songs. And although the spectacular final battle scene is a long time coming it's well worth the wait." The Daily Mirror

"Another day, another doomed musical. Yet of all the turkeys that have arrived on our stages recently, La Cava is the one I've enjoyed most. It's tosh, of course, but often surprisingly entertaining tosh, though the bovine stupidity of producers continues to baffle me... It is staged with brio by Steven Dexter, helped by a rigorously drilled ensemble, striking choreography by Mitch Sebastian and epic wooden sets by Francis O'Connor. And, though the book by Dana Broccoli contains some dreadful, clunking dialogue, the satisfyingly complex narrative emerges with clarity. The score, by Laurence O'Keefe and Stephen Keeling, combines soaring love ballads with nods to both Berber music and Gregorian chant, and the final battle scene offers thrilling theatrical spectacle. There are even - rare in blockbuster musicals such as this - welcome flashes of humour..." The Daily Telegraph

La Cava in London at the Victoria Palace Theatre previewed from 22 May 2000, opened on 8 June 2000 and closed on 22 July 2000, transferred to the Piccadilly Theatre from 21 August 2000 and closed on 3 February 2001