Previewed 9 May 2017, Opened 15 May 2017, Closed 2 September 2017 at the Duke of York's Theatre
The acclaimed new musical by Lee Hall Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour in London - featuring the songs of ELO - for a strictly limited season
Adapted for the stage by Lee Hall from Alan Warner's novel The Sopranos, Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour is the story of six Catholic choir girls from Oban who are let loose in Edinburgh for one day only.
The cast features Caroline Deyga, Karen Fishwick, Isis Hainsworth, Kirsty MacLaren, Frances Mayli McCann and Dawn Sievewright. Adapted for the stage from Alan Warner's novel by Lee Hall and featuring the songs of the Electric Light Orchestra. Directed by Vicky Featherstone with choreography by Imogen Knight, designs by Chloe Lamford, lighting by Lizzie Powell and sound by Mike Walker. This production premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2015 and it comes into London's West End following a sell-out season at the National Theatre (Dorfman Theatre previewed from 8 August 2016, opened on 10 August 2016 and closed on 1 October 2016 performed in repertory). PLEASE NOTE: Contains strong language.
When this production opened here at the West End's Duke of York's Theatre in May 2017 Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard hailed it as being "fizzingly vivacious, gloriously foul-mouthed and yet angelically tuneful... joyous," adding that "Vicky Featherstone offers a production of all-round perfect pitch." Neil Norman in the Daily Express highlighted that "Lee Hall's dramatisation of Alan Warner's novel The Sopranos plays up the contrast with little subtlety but shedloads of energy and it is a tribute to the cast that their scurrilous antics are so appealing," while the play "careers unsteadily through a series of episodes that seem designed to shock." Ann Treneman in the Times said that "the plot hardly classifies as one: think ladettes on tour with breakout karaoke moments," explaining that "this musical is a series of predictable skits (involving alcohol, lecherous men, fumbled kisses, secrets spilled) that are embellished by some greatest hits (ELO in particular) and luscious harmonies... it had its moments but, mostly, it all just seemed a bit dated." Alexander Gilmour in the Financial Times thought that "this show can feel like being trapped on the night bus with a hen party... noisy, funny, intriguing from an anthropological point of view, sad and scary. Itís not for everyone... As the girlsí night unfolds and the wheels slide off... tenderness edges in and the hen party vibe makes room for something deeper, almost shocking. The essence of this show lies here. Itís a pity we donít see more of it." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail "found its sweary, groint-hrusting humour terribly forced, and much of the shrieky Scots dialogue incomprehensible... Some of the music is sung well. The girls are played with energy. Near the end it strains for an unearned sentimentalism, but unless you have a thing about foul-mouthed teenagers boasting about their conquests, this is one to avoid."
Lee Hall's West End credits include adapting and writing for the stage: Billy Elliot the Musical (Victoria Palace Theatre 2005 to 2016); Shakespeare In Love (Noel Coward Theatre 2015); The Pitmen Painters (Duchess Theatre 2012); A Servant of Two Masters (Ambassadors Theatre 2000 and Noel Coward Theatre 2001); Spoonface Steinberg (Ambassadors Theatre 2000); and Mother Courage and Her Children (Ambassadors Theatre 2000).
When this production was seen at the National Theatre in London in August 2016, Sam Marlowe in the Times praised "Lee Hall's exhilarating musical play," adding that "Vicky Featherstone's production for the National Theatre of Scotland and Newcastle's Live Theatre is an absolute blast, full of filth and fury, wit and wonder. You can't help falling a little in love with every one of its incandescent performers... there's something quite beautiful in the play's collision of sacred and profane ó the soaring religious music and the swagger of pop, the girls' innocence and their potty-mouthed, boundary-busting behaviour. Above all, it's vibrantly, noisily, exuberantly alive. A joy." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times explained that "amid all the drinking and sex and swearing - there's a lot of swearing - are serious issues. Many of the girls are struggling with major personal problems. For all of them, 'bad' behaviour represents a defiant rejection of the limited futures and expectations they see before them... Vicky Featherstone's ebullient production picks up on that teenage energy... Music forms the spine of the piece, with songs - ranging from Mendelssohn to Jeff Lynne - playing an eloquent part." Jane Shilling in the Daily Telegraph highlighted how, "in this joyous, moving show... as the girls' stories unfold, a plangent contrast emerges between their boundless appetite for life, love and experience, and the narrowness of the futures available to them, in which teenage pregnancy looms large... It's an overlong, slightly flimsy piece of writing. But that said, Vicky Featherstone's swift pacing gives the production real lift, and the freshness and vigour of the young cast turn it into pure gold... And thanks to their exquisite discipline, blazing energy and absolute belief in their characters, a so-so script is transformed into one of the great theatrical experiences of the year." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard hailed it as being a "big-hearted and enjoyably coarse, but with moments of real poignancy, this is a fearless portrait of adolescence, fuelled by songs and sambuca... Director Vicky Featherstone draws appealing performances from a versatile ensemble and the girls are nicely differentiated."
"Transferred to the West End, after a tour, this is the hit show about girls at an imaginary convent school in Oban. They are in a choir competition, but the second the teenage poppets conclude Lift Up Thine Eyes, fags are lit and the swearing starts. And it never stops for 105 interval-less minutes... Behind the up-for-it bravado, there's loneliness, naivety and even heartbreak. The brilliant young cast acts with total commitment to these under-privileged Catholic lassies desperate to 'get mental'. The tiny live band is just right for the occasion, which is exhausting and filthy but joyous, leaving you ear-bashed and totally elated." The Mail on Sunday
"Six teenage girls from a small Scottish seaside town have angelic voices and travel to the capital Edinburgh for a choir competition. But rather than wowing the judges they are more interested in going 'mental' and getting drunk in the big city... This energetic, very funny and very rude adaptation of Alan Warner's book The Sopranos charts the teenagers' rite of passage. It's not quite a musical but there's plenty of singing - ranging from Bach to ELO - excellently supported by a three-piece female band. The cast easily slip into different supporting roles. All are excellent. If you're not touched by the story of Orla, gloriously played by Isis Hainsworth, you must be very hard hearted." The Sunday People
"The West End should lift its eyes and give thanks for the transfer of Vicky Featherstone's impenitently rude, riotous production about Scottish schoolgirls on the lash. Adapted by Lee Hall from Alan Warner's novel The Sopranos, you could call this play with songs a spiritual cousin to The History Boys. It's also a smeary, beery riposte... But it's often funny-hysterical, with a heart as stonking as its characters' hangovers. A sextet of 17-year-olds from a Catholic state school in Oban descend on Edinburgh. Ostensibly there for a choir competition, they're really intent on pandemonium, sacrilege and getting home for the last dance at the Mantrap. The girls, performed with relentless energy by a ferocious ensemble, are in various ways at the mercy of life and narrowing horizons, but they are never victims." The Sunday Times
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 3 May 2017, opened on 15 May 2017 and closed on 2 September 2017