The Beautiful Game

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

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.

Musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and lyrics and book by Ben Elton. (This musical has also been performed, with revisions, under the title The Boys in the Photo).

The original cast featured Frank Grimes as 'Father O'Donnell', David Shannon as 'John', Ben Goddard as 'Del', Josie Walker as 'Mary', and Hannah Waddingham as 'Christine', with Jamie Golding as 'Daniel', Dale Meeks as 'Ginger', Michael Shaeffer as 'Thomas', Alex Sharpe as 'Bernadette', Dianne Pilkington as 'Protestant Girl', Nicholas Roud and Craig Shenton as 'Sean Kelly', along with Jonathan Ball, Michael Bernardin, Keith Bookman, Sally Bourne, Jenna Boyd, Shonagh Daly, Nic Greenshields, Ben Heathcote, Mark Hilton, Michele Hooper, Simon Humphrey, David Lyons, Grant Murphy, Greta Rochford, Andrew Spillett, Alessandro Splendore, and Paul Tarling.

Directed by Robert Carsen, with choreography by Meryl Tankard, sets by Michael Levine, costumes by Joan Bergin, lighting by Jean Kalman, and sound by Martin Levan.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's London theatre musicals include with Tim Rice Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Jesus Christ Superstar; with Jim Steinman Whistle Down The Wind; with Richard Stilgoe Starlight Express; with Charles Hart The Phantom Of The Opera; with Don Black Tell Me On A Sunday; with Don Black and Charles Hart Aspects of Love; with Don Black and Christopher Hampton Sunset Boulevard; with T S Eliot Cats; and with Alan Ayckbourn By Jeeves.

Ben Elton's London theatre credits include the comedy Gasping.

"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

"The collaboration by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton 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