Play by Alan Ayckbourn. The Pendon Amateur Light Operatic Society's production of The Beggar's Opera is going off the rails, that is until a handsome but shy young widower Guy joins the group. An instant hit with the company's ferociously zealous director Dafydd and the show's leading ladies, including Dafydd's wife Hannah, Guy soon gets more than he bargained for as he discovers that all the best action happens off-stage. Classic songs fill the air as the drama on stage is mirrored by the romantic rivalry and small town squabbles causing a stir in the wings of this ambitious local show.
Alan Ayckbourn's West End theatre credits include The Norman Conquests, Relatively Speaking, Communicating Doors, Bedroom Farce, Woman in Mind, Damsels in Distress Trilogy: RolePlay, FlatSpin, and GamePlan, How The Other Half Loves, Absurd Person Singular, Absent Friends, and Things We Do for Love. Alan Ayckbourn also provided lyrics to the Andrew Lloyd Webber's P G Wodehouse musical By Jeeves, and Roger Glossop's children's show of Beatrix Potter's Where is Peter Rabbit?
1985/1986: Original West End London Premiere
Previewed 25 July 1985, Opened 1 August 1985, Closed 29 May 1986 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Olivier Theatre
Previewed 4 June 1986, Opened 11 June 1986, Closed 7 March 1987 at the Lyric Theatre
The cast at London's Olivier Theatre featured Michael Gambon as 'Dafydd ap Llewellyn', Imelda Staunton as 'Hannah Llewellyn', Bob Peck as 'Guy Jones', David Ryall as 'Jarvis Huntley-Pike', Moira Redmond as 'Rebecca Huntley-Pike', Paul Bentall as 'Ian Hubbard', Gemma Craven as 'Fay Hubbard', James Hayes as 'Ted Washbrook', Jane Wenham as 'Enid Washbrook', Kelly Hunter as 'Linda Washbrook', Paul Todd as 'Mr Ames', Jenny Galloway as 'Bridget Baines', Daniel Flynn as 'Crispin Usher', Janet Whiteside as 'Annie Anderson', Kate Dyson as 'Monica Bickerdyke', Mary Chester as 'Georgina Coombes', Michael Beint as 'Reginald Bickerdyke', Robert Ralph as 'Colin Crockett', Simon Scott as 'Tony Mofitt', and Virginia Greig as 'Sharon Fitch'.
The cast at the West End's Lyric Theatre featured Colin Blakely as 'Dafydd ap Llewellyn', Polly Hemingway as 'Hannah Llewellyn', Jim Norton as 'Guy Jones', Nicholas Selby as 'Jarvis Huntley-Pike', Moira Redmond as 'Rebecca Huntley-Pike', David Cardy as 'Ian Hubbard', Pippa Guard as 'Fay Hubbard', Nicholas Lumley as 'Ted Washbrook', Dorcas Jones as 'Enid Washbrook', Caroline Webster as 'Linda Washbrook' ,John Keenan as 'Mr Ames', Jane Hollowood as 'Bridget Baines', James Gaddas as 'Crispin Usher', Barbara Halliwell as 'Georgina Coombes', Jonathan Steward as 'Reginald Bickerdyke', Mary-Louise Clark as 'Sharon Fitch', Nick Ledgard as 'Raymond Finegan', Tina Parry as 'Annie Anderson', and Tony Crean as 'Tony Mofitt'.
Directed by Alan Ayckbourn, with choreography by Olivia Breeze, sets by Alan Tagg, costumes by Lindy Hemming, lighting by Mick Hughes, and sound by Gary Giles.
Unfortunately Colin Blakely became ill during the later portion of the Lyric Theatre run, and his role was unofficially effectively taken over by Russell Dixon who had originated the role of 'Dafydd ap Llewellyn' in the first production of the play at Scarborough in 1984. Sadly, although receiving treatment for leukemia, Colin Blakely died on Thursday 7 May 1987.
2012: 1st West End London Revival
Previewed 17 September 2012, Opened 27 September 2012, Closed 5 January 2013 at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London
A major revival of Alan Ayckbourn's comedy A Chorus of Disapproval in London starring Rob Brydon, Nigel Harman and Ashley Jensen
The cast featured Rob Brydon as 'Dafydd ap Llewellyn', Ashley Jenson as 'Hannah Llewellyn', Nigel Harman as 'Guy Jones', Barrie Rutter as 'Jarvis Huntley-Pike', Susan Tracy as 'Rebecca Huntley-Pike', Paul Thornley as 'Ian Hubbard', Daisy Beaumont as 'Fay Hubbard', Matthew Cottle as 'Ted Washbrook', Teresa Banham as 'Enid Washbrook', Jessica Ellerby as 'Linda Washbrook', Steven Edis as 'Mr Ames', Georgia Brown as 'Bridget Baines', Rob Compton as 'Crispin Usher', Joanna Kirkland, Luke Bateman, Rebecca Brewer, and Richard Emerson.
Directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Etta Murfitt, designs by Robert Jones, lighting by Tim Mitchell, and sound by Fergus O'Hare.
Nigel Harman's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Lord Farquaad' in Jason Moore and Rob Ashford's production of the David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesor musical Shrek at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2011; 'Pip'/'Theo' in Jamie Lloyd's revival of Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain at the Apollo Theatre 2009; 'Peter' in Fiona Laird's revival of Simon Gray's The Common Pursuit at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2008; 'Sky Masterson' in Michael Grandage's revival of Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre in 2005; 'Flight-Sergeant Kevin Cartwright' in Michael Grandage's revival of Peter Nichols' Privates on Parade at the Donmar Warehouse in 2001; 'Eddie' in the original cast of Phyllida Lloyd's production of Catherine Johnson's ABBA musical Mamma Mia! at the Prince Edward Theatre in 1999; and 'Cousin Kevin' in Des McAnuff' revival of Pete Townshend's Tommy at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1996.
Barrie Rutter's London theatre credits include playing the roles of 'Brabantio' in his revival of William Shakespeare's Othello at the Trafalgar Studios in 2009; 'Tranio' in Jonathan Miller's revival of William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew at the Barbican Theatre in 1988; 'Benny Southstreet' in Richard Eyre's revival of Frank Loesser's Guys and Dolls at the Olivier Theatre in 1982; and 'Dennis Charles Nipple' in Michael Croft's revival of David Halliwell's Little Malcolm And His Struggle Against The Eunuchs at the Royal Court Theatre in 1966.
"Rob Brydon is by far the best thing about Trevor Nunnís damp revival of Alan Ayckbournís 1984 comedy about an amateur operatics society... Nunnís underpowered production, captures neither the sting nor the sparkle of Ayckbournís waspish portrait of the lower middle classes. Brydon gets the lionís share of Ayckbournís dependably pithy one-liners and relishes them in a consuming performance that hints at the neediness and aggression behind the bonhomie but Nigel Harman visibly struggles in the role of an innocent abroad, never catching Guyís charm or essential naÔvete. There is decent support but Nunn has directed far better productions than this Ė and Ayckbourn, frankly, has written better plays." The London Metro
"Thankfully Trevor Nunnís revival bears little resemblance to the film - which even Ayckbourn disliked - and benefits hugely from a rather standout performance by Rob Brydon in his West End debut. No, itís not much of a stretch for the likeable Welsh comedian - he plays Dafydd ap Llewellyn, a Welsher-than-Welsh director of a small-town amateur dramatics society - but he pulls it off with brio, panache and perfect comic timing, while rapturously relishing any occasion that calls for him to break into song... Ayckbourn certainly nods towards the quiet personal tragedies of his cross-section of society who include put-upon housewife Hannah and leopard print-wearing suburban swinger Fay. But the play doesnít seek to say much about class or society and it canít help but feel rather slight. For me the best comic moments occur when Brydon is on stage and without him much of the humour often feels dated, of the old-fashioned sitcom variety. The overall feel is of an Eighties period piece." The Daily Express
A Chorus of Disapproval in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre previewed from 17 September 2012, opened on 27 September 2012, and closed on 5 January 2013