La Cava

Previewed 22 May 2000, Opened 8 June 2000, Closed 22 July 2000 at the 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.

Musical with music by Laurence O'Keefe, lyrics by John Claflin and Laurence O'Keefe, and book by Dana Broccoli, based on her novel Florinda, with additional music by Stephen Keeling, and additional lyrics by Shaun McKenna.

The cast at the Victoria Palace Theatre and Piccadilly Theatre featured Oliver Tobias as 'King Roderic', Julie-Alanah Brighten as 'Florinda Espatorias', David Bardsley as 'General Julian Espatorias', Paul Keating as 'Agon', Marilyn Cutts as 'Queen Exilona', Patrick Romer as 'Archbishop Oppas', Joshua Bancel as 'Tariq The Moor', Louisa McCarthy as 'Isabel', Chris Andrew Mellon as 'Ezzak Mendez', Daniel Redmond as 'Somal', Richard Woodford as 'Marcos Cordoba', Luke Evans as 'Theo Perez', Claire Massie as 'The Governess Gurda', Caroline Bagnall, Colette Bibby, Anna Blake, Dawn Buckland, Steve Elias, Howard Ellis, Julian Essex-Spurrier, Ben Forster, Jordi Guitart, Katie Leeming, Michelle Lukes, Mark Oxtoby, Roberto Saraceno, Michael Small, Frank Thompson, and Andrew Wright.

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.

In 1967 Dana and Cubby Broccoli were in Spain scouting locations for the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. They were taken to a castle in Toledo where a guide told them the story of how the castle was stormed by the Moors, an act initiated by the rape of a young girl by the King of Spain, Roderic, that led to the end of Christian rule in Spain for centuries. Fascinated by the idea that this act led to the destruction of an empire and determined to find out more about the girl at the centre of this tragic tale, Dana Broccoli began to research the story and started writing the novel that would eventually become Florinda.

In the year 409 AD, various Germanic peoples began to stream into the Peninsula across the Pyrenees. This heralded the beginning of an obscure and chaotic period which signalled the transition from the Ancient to the Modern world - Visigothic Spain. The Visigothic Kingdom endured for two centuries, although it was constantly being weakened by internal dynastic wars. In fact, it was a series of bitter civil wars which eventually led to its downfall. The king's power had always been unstable and, on the death of King Witiza in 710, the nobility found itself divided into two factions: one in favour of the Witiza Clan and the other for Roderic, a member of the high nobility. Roderic usurped the throne and became king - much to the abhorrence of the sons of Witiza, who sought out military help from the Muslims in Northern Africa. This combined force defeated Roderic in the Battle of Rio Barbate, by the Guadalete River, before pushing on to take the kingdom's capital, Toledo. This event marked the end of the Visigothic rule in Spain. Roderic, being the last of the Visigoth Kings, soon became the subject of much Spanish lore, having 'disappeared' at the battle. Legend has it that he did indeed survive the battle but spent the remainder of his life in penance for his sin in deflowering Florinda, eventually being devoured by snakes until atoning for his sins. Centuries later he became the hero of a popular romance by Sir Walter Scott: 'Vision of Don Roderic', and also of Robert Southey's epic poem: 'Roderic the Last of the Goths'.

Julie-Alanah Brighten's London theatre credits include playing the title role of 'Belle' in the Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice musical Disney's Beauty and The Beast at the Dominion Theatre in 1997.

David Bardsley's London stage credits include playing 'Jerry Allison' in Rob Bettinson's production of Alan Janes' Buddy the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre in 1989.

Paul Keating's London theatre credits include the title role in Des McAnuff's revival of the Pete Townshend and The Who's musical Tommy at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1996.

Marilyn Cutts' London stage credits include playing 'Julie La Verne' in Ian Judge's revival of the Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein musical Show Boat at the London Palladium in 1990.

Prior to London's West End this production was presented at the Bromley Churchill Theatre from 24 April 2000 to 6 May 2000 with the same cast. Initially the production was then due to transfer to London's 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 then moved to 8 June 2000.

"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

"If you are into the politics of 8th Century Visigoth Spain, this is the musical for you. Far from being the predicted disaster in a summer of musical flops, this has a good head of steam. Musically it's not great but it's not half bad either and it'll help to keep up the dramatic temperature in this damp West End... Julie-Alanah Brighten's long locks and feistiness keep things ticking over in Steven Dexter's production of Dana Broccoli's slightly laborious book for the show, stuffed as it is with corrupt churchmen, swashbuckling warriors and sinister spies... Laurence O'Keefe and Stephen Keeling's music is better in the big battle scenes than the close-up, soppier moments. But the world of Berbers, peasants and noblemen is brought thrillingly to life... If you leave out the joke moments and the odd duff lyric, you're left with a grabby musical romance with a real heart." The Daily Express

"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... Our heroine, Florinda, spunkily played by the excellent Julie-Alanah Brighten, is sent from the north African colony of Ceuta - where the Moors are revolting - to Toledo, unhappily forsaking her secret Moorish boyfriend. In Toledo, she falls under the spell of King Roderic, played by Oliver Tobias, a scarred and handsome brute who puts one in mind of a sober Oliver Reed... 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." 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