Acorn Antiques the Musical

Previewed 27 January 2005, Opened 10 February 2005, Closed 21 May 2005 at the Haymarket Theatre in London

Victoria Wood's new musical Acorn Antiques in London starring Julie Walters

The long awaited musical version of the very successful TV series based in the busy antiques shop in Manchesterford. Wrinkly tights, coconut macaroons, eye shadow and Mrs Overall's home-made sherry are all waiting in the wings. This stage musical version of Victoria Wood's spoof soap opera originally seen in the television series As Seen On TV and is based on the characters from the TV spoof about a busy antiques shop in Manchesterford which followed the fortunes of Miss Babs, Miss Berta and their loveable old cleaner Mrs Overall.

The cast features Julie Walters as 'Bo Beaumont'/'Mrs Overall' (Tuesday to Saturday evenings and Saturday matinees only), Victoria Wood as 'Bo Beaumont'/'Mrs Overall' (Monday evenings and Wednesday matinees only), Celia Imrie as 'Mrs Babs', Duncan Preston as 'Mr Clifford', Josie Lawrence as 'Donna'/'Ms Terry', Neil Morrissey as 'John'/'Tony', and Sally Ann Triplett as 'Miss Berta', with Gareth Bryn as 'Steve'/'Hugh', Jenna Boyd as 'Mimi', Lorraine Chappell as 'Suzi', Daniele Coombe as 'Sally'/'Mrs Wellbelove', Paul Grunert as 'Vic'/'Mr Watkins', Sidney Livingstone as 'Ken'/'Mr Minchin', Jill Martin as 'Lynn'/'Christine', Carl Sanderson as 'Brian'/'Mr Furlong', Myra Sands as 'Barbara'/'Miss Willoughby', David Shaw Parker as 'Tom'/'Mr Stillman'/'Derek', Nicola Sloane as 'Pip'/'Miss Cuff', John Stacey as 'Alan'/'Postman', Shaun Henson, and Hilary O'Neil.

Directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Stephen Mear, sets by Lez Brotherston, costumes by Stephen Brimson-Lewis, lighting by Andrew Bridge, and sound by Paul Groothuis.

Julie Walters' London theatre credits include the roles of 'Kate Keller' in Howard Davies's revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre in 2000; 'May' in Peter Gill's production of Sam Shepard's Fool For Love at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre in 1984, and transfer to the West End's Lyric Theatre in 1985; and the title role in Mike Ockrent's production of Willy Russell's Educating Rita, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Donmar, and transfer to the West End's Piccadilly Theatre in 1980.

Duncan Preston's London stage credits include the role of 'Morrie' in Sean Holmes' production of Richard Bean's The Mentalists at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Loft Theatre in 2002.

Josie Lawrence's London theatre credits include the roles of 'Agnetha' in Bill Alexander's production of Bryony Lavery's Frozen at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre in 2002; 'Anna Leonowens' in Christopher Renshaw's revival of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein musical The King and I at the London Palladium in 2001; and 'Katherina' in Gale Edwards's revival of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, for the Royal Shakespeare Company, at the Barbican Theatre in 1996.

"It wouldn't be hard to list the major structural defects of Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques but it would be largely beside the point. The plot lurches all over the place; the first half and the second half are virtually two different shows; there are bits that sound as though they were jotted down at the last minute on the back of an envelope. These are flaws, but it is surprising how little difference they make in practice. The actual experience of watching the show is one of fairly continuous merriment... Trevor Nunn, who directs, might profitably have tightened the script up and insisted on a few cuts. But at its best the show is so much fun that one doesn't want to complain." The Sunday Telegraph

"It's not so much a full-blown musical as a succession of fast-moving TV scenes stitched together for the stage. And although it is based on the Acorn Antiques soap send-up in Victoria's TV show, Ms Wood lampoons other musicals and puts in more showbiz in-jokes than you'd hear over drinks with Jimmy Tarbuck... Her dialogue is sharper than a machete, her tunes sing-along catchy and her lyrics wittier than anything you heard on the Brits. But brilliant though some of the material is, even she couldn't turn a TV mini-classic into a stage hit all by herself. Here she has Julie Walters, above, giving an hilarious performance that almost guarantees a box office bonanza... At only a shade under three hours, the gags begin to wear thin before the end. But the cast deserved their first-night standing ovation." The Sun

"Acorn Antiques started life as a 10-minute sketch inside a 30-minute TV comedy series: To blow it up to three hours, import Trevor Nunn as director, and then overcast it desperately, is asking for trouble... Victoria Wood provides a series of confused musical parodies, which are totally self-defeating because if they are any good they just remind us of what's missing here, and if they are terrible you wonder why the cast is bothering to do them... A hugely talented cast prance around a lot looking understandably confused, and Wood's own songs hover dangerously between the satirical and the sincere." The Daily Express

"Theatre-goers, most of whom seemed to be genuine punters, whooped and cackled. By the end they were standing to clap to the music and laud and magnify their stage heroes. The infectious joy was comparable to that at a good Rocky Horror Picture Show... For all its silliness, Acorn Antiques could well become a cult hit. Some of the parts are undoubtedly a scream. A Mrs Overall song about the benefits of a cup of tea, and how preferable it is to drugs, is an instant comedy classic." The Daily Mail

Acorn Antiques the Musical in London at the Haymarket Theatre previewed from 27 January 2005, opened on 10 February 2005 and closed on 21 May 2005.