Lady, Be Good!

Musical by the Gershwins. Dick and Susie Trevor are penniless sibblings evicted from their Rhode Island mansion. Dick is determined to marry the wealthy Josephine Vanderwater in order to return to solvency but Susie is equally determined to save Dick from a loveless marriage by posing as a Spanish widow in order to claim a substantial inheritance. Featuring the songs Oh, Lady be Good! and Fascinating Rhythm.

Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin with book by Guy Bolton and Fred Thompson.

Original London West End Production (Empire Theatre) 1926

1st London West End Revival (Saville Theatre) 1968

London Revival (Open Air Theatre) 1992

London Revival (Open Air Theatre) 2007

Following negotiations with the Gershwin estate, the Open Air Theatre's revivals in 1992 and 2007 included a number of interpolated number from other Gershwin shows, most notably 'Just Another Rhumba' which was written for the film Goldwyn Follies but was never used, and has not been seen on stage before.

Original London West End Production 1926

Opened 14 April 1926, Closed 22 January 1927 at the Empire Theatre (now rebuilt as the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square)

The original cast featured Fred Astaire as 'Dick Trevor', Adele Astaire as 'Susie Trevor' and William Kent as 'J. Watterson Watkins' with C Denier Warren as 'Rufus Parke', Glori Beaumont as 'Daisy Parke', Sylvia Leslie as 'Josephine Vanderwater', Ewart Scott as 'Bertie Bassett', George Vollaire as 'Jack Robinson', Irene Russell as 'Shirley Vernon', Roy Emerton as 'Manuel Astrada', Buddy Lee as 'Jeff White', Alec Johnstone as 'a Flunkey' and Cyril Stowell as 'a Policeman'.

Directed by Felix Edwarde with choreography by Max Scheck and designs by Joseph Harker and Phil Harker.

During the run the Theatre was sold to MGM so that it could be demolished and rebuilt as a cinema. The last performance before the builders moved in was the last performance of Lady, Be Good! on Saturday 22 January 1927. This performance was attended by the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII) and by the ballet dancer Adeline Genée - one of the pioneers of modern ballet - who made her name dancing at the Empire Theatre over a ten year period at the turn of the century.

1st London West End Revival 1968

Opened 25 July 1968, Closed 7 December 1968 at the Saville Theatre (now Odeon Covent Garden Cinema)

The cast featured Lionel Blair as 'Dick Trevor', Aimi MacDonald as 'Susie Trevor' and Joe Baker as 'J. Watterson Watkins' with Bernard Clifton as 'Rufus Parke', Pauline Garner as 'Daisy Parke', Gaby Vargas as 'Josephine Vanderwater', Raymond Clarke as 'Bertie Bassett', Patrick Rose as 'Jack Robinson', Elizabeth Connor as 'Shirley Vernon', Norman Warwick as 'Manuel Estrada', Joe Chisholm as 'Jeff White', George Clarkson as '1st Removal Man' and David Russell as '2nd Removal Man'.

Directed by Hugh Goldie with choreography by Lionel Blair, designs by Robert Bahl and lighting by Robert Ornbo.

London Revival (Open Air Theatre) 1992

Previewed 28 July 1992, Opened 29 July 1992, Closed 10 September 1992 (in repertory) at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park

The cast featured Simon Green as 'Dick Trevor', Joanna Riding as 'Susie Trevor' and Bernard Cribbins as 'J. Watterson Watkins' with David Gooderson as 'Rufus Parke', Samantha Spiro as 'Daisy Parke', Jane Maud as 'Josephine Vanderwater', Gavin Muir as 'Bertie Bassett', Zubin Varla as 'Jack Robinson', Gillian Rushton as 'Shirley Vernon', Edward Max as 'Manuel Estrada', Antony Howes as 'Jeff White' along with Paul Aves, Alister Cameron, Gina Cameron, Sophie-Louise Dunn, Daniel Gillingwater and Paul Hawkyard.

Directed by Ian Talbot with choreography by Kenn Oldfield, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Simon Whitehorn.

Seventy years ago Fred Astaire took Broadway by storm with the musical Lady, Be Good! In London's Open Air theatre at Regent's Park British actors still manage to do justice to this famous George Gershwin hit, although there are no skyscrapers around to add the Broadway touch. Bernard Cribbins steals the show. He dons a flashy check suit, red bow tie, matching braces and spats to play loudmouth lawyer, Watty Watkins. And he proves, after years in Christmas pantos, that he's lost none of his comic timing - oh no he hasn't. The two-hour show is packed with memorable melodies, which the audience leaves humming and whistling." The Daily Mirror

"The Open Air Theatre at London's Regent's Park is one of the great pleasures of the English summer. Lady Be Good carries pleasure to perfection. Ian Talbot's production scores in every department: acting, singing, dancing, costumes and staging. It is also very amusing. Lady is not quite such a good musical as Guys and Dolls. It is a little too flapperish and one-dimensional for that, but with its featherweight touch it plays in the same division. Like the best of P G Wodehouse, it captures a world of innocence... The singing and dancing are captivating throughout. They rely on the old but effective technique of starting with a twosome, then bringing in the ensemble. If there has to be a top prize, it must go to Joanna Riding, who sings, acts, dances and looks good non-stop. But do not forget the others, including Alister Cameron as an immensely tall Jeevesian flunkey, and the designs by Paul Farnsworth. You really ought to see Lady Be Good: you know that you should." The Financial Times

"Every summer The Open Air Theatre. Regent's Park revives a forgotten Broadway musical. This year it's a 1924 George and Ira Gershwin show, Lady Be Good, and it offers an evening of innocent delight. It makes one nostalgic for the days when the genre had lightness, gaiety and insouciance: of the era, in fact, before musical comedy turned into musical tragedy... The story has a divine silliness but what really keeps the show afloat is the unusual unity of the Gershwin score and lyrics... Originally, people obviously went to see the Astaires dance. The pivot of Ian Talbot's production, however, is Bernard Cribbins's genuinely funny performance as a shyster lawyer. With his overdrawn check suit, his two-tone shoes, his ceaseless one-liners and his air of furtive lechery, Cribbins reminds one of one of Groucho Marx's more outlandish creations. He gives the evening its verve and gusto while Simon Green and Joanna Riding as the dispossessed siblings supply the romance: both highly personable performers though I feel both they, and the production, miss the element of wistful plaintiveness that echoes through the love songs." Th Guardian

Lady, Be Good! in London at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre previewed from 28 July 1992, opened on 29 July 1992 and closed on 10 September 1992 (in repertory)

London Revival (Open Air Theatre) 2007

Previewed 17 July 2007, Opened 20 July 2007, Closed 25 August 2007 (in repertory) at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park

The cast featured Chris Ellis Stanton as 'Dick Trevor', Kate Nelson as 'Susie Trevor' and Paul Grunert as 'J. Watterson Watkins' with Steve Watts as 'Rufus Parke', Charlotte Warren as 'Daisy Parke', Hattie Ladbury as 'Josephine Vanderwater', Giles Taylor as 'Bertie Bassett', Norman Bowman as 'Jack Robinson', Rachel Jerram as 'Shirley Vernon', Thomas Padden as 'Manuel Estrada' and Joseph Pitcher as 'a Flunkey'.

Directed by Ian Talbot with choreography by Bill Deamer, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Gregory Clarke.

"While the Gershwins' musical about Dick and Susie Trevor, privileged siblings from Rhode Island cast out, penniless, from their childhood mansion, is a world away from the leafy bowers of Regent's Park, it emerges in Ian Talbot's tweaked revival of his 1992 production as the perfect filling for this theatre's festive cream bun. The plot is preposterous... But the Gershwins never intended this to be anything other than a sherbet dib-dab of an evening, and Talbot ticks all of the feel-good boxes. Good-looking guys in tuxes and nicely turned-out dolls in glittery lace and satin: check. Nifty (well, nifty-ish) ensemble dancing, honeyed voices and a pair of eye-catching leads in the parts originally written for Fred and Adele Astaire (Chris Ellis-Stanton and Kate Nelson): check. A star comic turn in Paul Grunert as the wise-cracking New Yoik lawyer: check. Whistle-on-your-way-home numbers and a band you could listen to all night. It's all charming and, as dusk fell over London, rather magical." The Sunday Telegraph

"Gershwin's 1924 musical comedy is pure flimflam, with pantomime characters, a daft plot, jazz hands and shiny-shoe tapping. The first half is slightly laboured, but, as dusk descends, the designer Paul Farnsworth's giant grand piano is bathed in pink, and the gossamer-light tale of penniless siblings, scheming to restore their finances, transmutes into gold. Chris Ellis Stanton's dimwit Dick lacks Astaire's insouciance, but boy, can he dance, as he pursues Hattie Ladbury's deliciously Hepburnesque heiress. Kate Nelson's endearingly kooky Susie, also a fine hoofer, poses as the Mexican widow of a supposedly dead heir in a comic rhumba number. George's syncopated rhythms and Ira's snappy lyrics take flight as Talbot wisely ramps up the comic potential of the plot's absurdities. A rousing charleston has toes tapping, and Rachel Jerram's pure-voiced Little Jazz Bird stirs the neck hairs in the evening breeze." The Sunday Times

"The Shakespearean yarn of siblings falling in and out of love centres on Susie and Dick, a couple of young swells slung on to the street for not paying their rent. Dick's answer is to drum up cash by marrying a rich debutante, while Susie falls in love with a surprisingly dashing hobo. But the great joy is how New York is treated as one huge cocktail party, mixing menacing Mexicans and upper-class English twits in a cheerfully farcical plot orchestrated by a big,fat, wise-cracking lawyer. The jokes in Guy Bolton's book are many and choice, including a play on buenas noches which has to be heard to be believed, not to mention the subversive fun that's had with the name of the mischievous hero, Dick. The music isn't epic George Gershwin, but as Ira's lyrics say: 'there's no sensation like syncopation'... This is Ian Talbot's farewell production at the Open Air theatre and the joie de vivre on Paul Farnsworth's art deco set is contagious. But if there's one performance to treasure, it's Paul Grunert as the lardy lawyer. He's like Danny De Vito meets Groucho Marx, and hilariously fits his own observation about his reputation with the ladies: 'Five minutes with me and they're a woman with a past.'" The Daily Mail

Lady, Be Good! in London at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre previewed from 17 July 2007, opened on 20 July 2007 and closed on 25 August 2007 (in repertory)