Privates on Parade

Play with song by Peter Nichols, with music by Denis King. Privates on Parade tells the story of a British army outfit called SADUSEA - Song and Dance Unit, South-East Asia - which is charged with entertaining the troops in Malaya in the late 1940s.

Original West End London Production 1977 with Denis Quilley and Nigel Hawthorne

London Revival 1995 with Tony Slattery and Nicholas Le Prevost

London Revival 2001 with Roger Allam and Malcolm Sinclair

1st West End London Revival 2012 with Simon Russell Beale and Angus Wright

Peter Nichols' other West End theatre plays include A Day in the Death of Joe Egg and Passion Play, and Poppy.


Original West End London Production 1977 with Denis Quilley and Nigel Hawthorne

Previewed 17 February 1977, Opened 22 February 1977, Closed 16 April 1977 (in repertory) at the Aldwych Theatre
Previewed 2 February 1978, Opened 8 February 1978, Closed 5 August 1978 at the Piccadilly Theatre

The cast at the Aldwych Theatre featured Denis Quilley as 'Acting Captain Terri Dennis', Nigel Hawthorne as 'Major Giles Flack', Ben Cross as 'Flight-Sergeant Kevin Cartwright', David Daker as 'Sergeant Major Reg Drummond', Ian Gelder as 'Private Steven Flowers', Simon Jones as 'Leading Aircraftman Eric Young-Love', Joe Melia as 'Corporal Len Bonny', Tim Wylton as 'Lance Corporal Charles Bishop', Emma Williams as 'Sylvia Morgan', Richard Rees as 'Cheng', and John Venning as 'Lee'.

The cast at the Piccadilly Theatre featured Denis Quilley as 'Acting Captain Terri Dennis', Nigel Hawthorne as 'Major Giles Flack', Neil McCaul as 'Flight-Sergeant Kevin Cartwright', Shaun Curry as 'Sergeant Major Reg Drummond', Ian Gelder as 'Private Steven Flowers', Simon Jones as 'Leading Aircraftman Eric Young-Love', Joe Melia as 'Corporal Len Bonny', Tim Wylton as 'Lance Corporal Charles Bishop', Emma Williams as 'Sylvia Morgan', Eiji Kusuhara as 'Cheng', and Cecil Cheng as 'Lee'.

Directed by Michael Blakemore with choreography by Eleanor Fazan, designs by Michael Annals, and lighting by Robert Bryan.

Presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company, this production premiered in London, without a run beforehand at the RSC's base in Stratford-upon-Avon.

At the Aldwych Theatre it played in repertory for 33 performances plus 4 previews performances. For the transfer to the Piccadilly Theatre it played as a straight-run for 205 performances plus 6 preview performances. A total of 238 performances and 10 preview performances.


London Revival 1995 with Tony Slattery and Nicholas Le Prevost

Previewed 15 December 1995, Opened 18 December 1995, Closed 3 February 1996 at the Greenwich Theatre

The cast featured Tony Slattery as 'Acting Captain Terri Dennis', Nicholas Le Prevost as 'Major Giles Flack', Nicholas Hart as 'Flight-Sergeant Kevin Cartwright', James Bannon as 'Sergeant Major Reg Drummond', Damien Matthews as 'Private Steven Flowers', Richard Wellings-Thomas as 'Leading Aircraftman Eric Young-Love', Paul Slack as 'Corporal Len Bonny', Christopher Penny as 'Lance Corporal Charles Bishop', Claire Marchionne as 'Sylvia Morgan', Adrian Pang as 'Cheng', and Lim Kay Siu as 'Lee'.

Directed by Paul Clayton with choreography by Christina Avery, designs by Paul Farnsworth, lighting by Geraint Pughe, and sound by Ed Brimley.


London Revival 2001 with Roger Allam and Malcolm Sinclair

Previewed 30 November 2001, Opened 10 December 2001, Closed 2 March 2001 at the Donmar Warehouse

The cast featured Roger Allam as 'Acting Captain Terri Dennis', Malcolm Sinclair as 'Major Giles Flack', Nigel Harman as 'Flight-Sergeant Kevin Cartwright', David Hounslow as 'Sergeant Major Reg Drummond', James McAvoy as 'Private Steven Flowers', Daniel Tuite as 'Leading Aircraftman Eric Young-Love', Justin Salinger as 'Corporal Len Bonny', Hugh Sachs as 'Lance Corporal Charles Bishop', Indira Varma as 'Sylvia Morgan', Wai-Keat Lau as 'Cheng', and Carl Wu as 'Lee'.

Directed by Michael Grandage with choreography by Scarlett Mackmin, designs by Christopher Oram, lighting by Howard Harrison, and sound by Fergus O'Hare.


1st West End London Revival 2012 with Simon Russell Beale and Angus Wright

Previewed 1 December 2012, Opened 10 December 2012, Closed 2 March 2013 at the Noel Coward Theatre

The cast featured Simon Russell Beale as 'Captain Terri Dennis', Angus Wright as 'Major Giles Flack', Sam Swainsbury as 'Flight-Sergeant Kevin Cartwright', Mark Lewis Jones as Sergeant Major Reg Drummond', Joseph Timms as 'Private Stephen Flowers', Brodie Ross as 'Aircraftman Eric Young-Love', John Marquez as 'Corporal Len Bonney', Harry Hepple as 'Lance Corporal Charles Bishop', Sophiya Haque as 'Sylvia Morgan', Sadao Ueda as 'Cheng', and ,Chris Chan as 'Lee', with Darren Mchin, and Adam Price.

Directed by Michael Grandage with choreography by Ben Wright, designs by Christopher Oram, lighting by Paule Constable, and sound by Mick Lidster and Terry Jardine.

PLEASE NOTE: This show features strong language and some nudity.

Simon Russell Beale's recent West End theatre credits include Ira Levin's Deathtrap (Noel Coward Theatre 2010), Tom Stoppard's Jumpers (Piccadilly Theatre 2003), Charlotte Jones' Humble Boy (Cottesloe Theatre 2001, and Gielgud Theatre 2002).

"From the moment Simon Russell Beale flounces on stage, muttering 'Jessica Christ' and rolling his eyes on being told virginal new recruit Steven Flowers is 'going to be attached to your section', he commands the stage... The plot turns on the larger dangers the unit faces thanks to commanding officers with dodgy motives and the soldiers' bruising lessons in love and friendship. The first is played OTT, the second more sensitively. But Nichols' spikier comment about queer politics, post-colonial British racism and the dubious reasons behind Britain's intervention in post-war South East Asia can feel clunky. There's also a lack of pace to the direction, which lets Nichols' baggier writing hang too loose." The Metro

"Always good to see a bit more of Simon Russell Beale, even if that bit is a flash of beefy thigh above fishnets, compensating for the extinction of his new bottle-blond mop beneath a Carmen Miranda fruit explosion... The big numbers, done with artful amateurism by Russell Beale's Captain Terri, ill-assorted soldiers and Sophiya Haque as a locally recruited Eurasian tart, are certainly riotous fun. It takes split-second timing to get it just wrong, as when Terri gabbles hastily through a spoken passage to catch up with the band, or the wrong props wobble towards him... While the lads anxiously open their Dear John letters, chase local talent or fall undemonstratively in love with one another, their major is, in both senses, barking. Angus Wright's performance is a joy: tall, crisp, he strides around with swagger-stick and jocose vigour like a Peter Snow gone bad. His bellicosity, and prudish attempt to warn young Flowers about catching 'les maladies d'amour' from the girls, make him a neat polar opposite of the kindly sexual realist Captain Terri. So a fine quality kick-off for Michael Grandage's new company, both in the comedy and a suddenly shocking darkness reminiscent of Oh! What A Lovely War." The Times

"If there are two words on a playbill that can be taken as a guarantee of quality, then they have to be 'Michael' and 'Grandage'. The former boss of the Donmar Warehouse launches his theatre company - and its season of five star-studded productions - with Privates on Parade, and it is, needless to say, a singularly wicked pleasure... Simon Russell Beale presents his credentials as the most versatile actor in the world with a startingly brilliant turn as Terri Dennis, the leader of the concert party who metamorphoses first into Marlene Dietrich and then Carmen Miranda and Vera Lynn. In the wrong pair of heels, the character could simply become a grotesque, but Russell Beale shows how he has been shaped by tragedy. With an unbearable sadness in those big, mascaraed Bette Davis eyes of his, he talks about how the sailor he loved was lost at sea, and the audience is soon enveloped in his pain." The Sunday Telegraph

"A real play with songs, a panto with frilly pants and - even no pants at all - in Michael Grandage's ribald romp of a revival in which privates are not so much paraded as artfully screened. It's Nichols' story of his own unsentimental education... But as well as being a rite-of-passage drama, the play is a warm and affectionate celebration-come-spoof of this peculiarly British and distinctly dated brand of hairy-legged, knock-kneed, amateur vaudeville. There's also a dark underside to the story, what with the casual racism, the watchful and resentful mute Chinese servants ever-ready to seize power and Nichols' scepticism about British colonialism and interference abroad, all of which resonate and prevent the play from being a mere period piece. Grandage's production launches his new company with characteristic flair and assurance and couldn't be better drilled, but Simon Russell Beale is effortlessly show-stealing as the captain who leads the troupe." The Mail on Sunday

Privates on Parade in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 1 December 2012, opened on 10 December 2012 and closed on 2 March 2013.