Previewed 21 June 2005, Opened 24 June 2005, Closed 10 September 2005 at the Ambassadors Theatre
A major production of Nick Moran's play Telstar in London starring Con O'Neill and Linda Robson
TELSTAR: The Joe Meek Story - Joe Meek - the World's first independent record producer - lived a brief, explosive and bizarre life which changed the world of music and the lives of everyone in his orbit forever. Despite meagre resources, he recorded three of the biggest hits of the period: Jonny Remember Me, Have I The Right and of course Telstar, which became one of the biggest sellers of all time.
We witness the contained hysteria of these momentous recording sessions and experience the wild times had by his band - a ramshackle bunch of local youngsters, who found themselves suddenly thrown into the big-time. His unrequited love for his one-hit-wonder protégé, his fateful alliance with his landlady, and his crazy business partnership with Screaming Lord Sutch ignite the play in a whirlwind of music, mayhem and madness. Telstar is written by actor Nick Moran of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame and is directed by Paul Jepson. It comes into London's West End after a short regional tour.
The cast for Telstar in London features Con O'Neill as 'Joe Meek' and Linda Robson as 'Mrs Shenton' with Tarl Caple as 'Chas Hodges', Gareth Corke as 'Geoff Goddard', Callum Dixon as 'John Leyton', David Hayler as 'Richie Blackmore', Roland Manookian as 'Patrick Pink', Joseph Morgan as 'Heinz Burt', William Woods as 'Clem Cattini' and Philip York as 'Major Banks'. Directed by Paul Jepson with designs by Tim Shortall and lighting by Chris Ellis. Written by Nick Moran with James Hicks.
Con O'Neill's West End theatre credits include the original cast of Blood Brothers at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre) in 1988 and the original cast of the The Blues Brothers at the Whitehall Theatre (now Trafalgar Studios) in 1991.
"At the Ambassadors Theatre is Joe Meek (Con O'Neill), producer of the biggest selling British hit of all time. Telstar, written by Nick Moran with James Hicks, tells the story of Meek's spectacular rise and desperate amphetamine-fuelled fall into paranoia and debt... Though Meek produced one giant of a record and several smaller but still successful ones, he finds it impossible to leave his cramped and musty flat for a grander, better life. He could have been big but he was too small inside... Moran and Hicks' play is a 1960s period piece with a brilliant script; the language of the era is spot on, Violet [the landlady] complains she is picking up Meek's amp on her wireless and she can't hear The Navy Lark, the boys whom Meek employs to play backing tracks are cocky and quick like the lads on Ready, Steady, Go. O'Neill is a magnificent Meek; a nasty piece of work but you feel for him." The Sunday Telegraph
"Paul Jepson's convincing production of Nick Moran's uneven but efficient play Telstar tells the sad, fascinating story of Meek - tone-deaf, obsessive, volatile, paranoid, yet possibly a genius... Con O'Neill brilliantly inhabits mad Joe Meek, who never lost his West Country burr, nor his camp, high-pitched, spoilt-brat whine, nor his exceptionally short fuse. He rampages around, alternately skipping with excitement and stamping with fury or blowing raspberries... Well worth tuning in to." The Mail on Sunday
"In Con O'Neill's superb central performance we see the Gloucester-born, gay Meek bullying his musicians, obsessing about song arrangements and his misguided crush in promoting Joseph Morgan's untalented singer Heinz Burt... Paul Jepson's production captures a sense of Britain on the verge of casting off its postwar drabness — the electric guitars interfere with the landlady's enjoyment of The Navy Lark on radio — and a time when former Army officers were still addressed by their rank. Even tortured souls could be soothed by putting the kettle on. But the play, a sometimes uneasy mix of farce and tragedy, too often seems like a series of footnotes and incidental details rather than a well-rounded portrait." The Times
Telstar in London at the Ambassadors Theatre previewed from 21 June 2005, opened on 24 June 2005, and closed on 10 September 2005