The Woman in White

Musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. "I have a secret, but can I trust you?...." Freely adapted from Wilkie Collins's sensational Victorian thriller, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White brings to the stage a plot of terrifying brilliance. A handsome young man is stranded at a remote railway cutting. Out of the darkness looms a woman, a mysterious figure dressed in white, who burns to tell a chilling secret. Two sisters find themselves snared in a web of betrayal and greed, the victims of a flawless crime. Unprotected in a man's world, they will need all their resourcefulness and courage to outwit a villain of overpowering charisma and ingenuity. But they can also rely on the guiding hand of love.

Musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by David Zippel, and book by Charlotte Jones, freely adapted from the novel by Wilkie Collins.

Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian sensation novels, and quickly became a phenomenon. Since its publication in 1860, it has never been out of print and generations of readers have been thrilled by its suspense and excitement.

2004: West End London Premiere at the Palace Theatre

2017: London Revival at the Charring Cross Theatre

Apart from the musical version by Andrew Lloyd Webber, there have been two (non-musical) play versions presented in London. In both instances, to help the story, the same actress played both the Woman in White, 'Anne Catherick', and 'Laura Fairlie'.

The first, staged some 11-years after the book was first published, was adapted by Wilkie Collins himself, and enjoyed an acclaimed of just under six-months at the Royal Olympic Theatre - opened 9 October 1871 (no previews), and closed 24 February 1872 - when the cast included Mrs Charles Viner (AKA Louisa Cleveland) as 'Marian Halcombe', George James Vining as 'Count Fosco', Ada Dyas as 'Anne Catherick' (AKA 'the Woman in White')/'Laura Fairlie', Wybert Reeve as 'Walter Hartwright', John Billington as 'Sir Percival Glyde', Marie Henderson as 'Mrs Catherick', Maria Daly as 'Madame Fosco', Frederick Robson as 'Professor Pesca', and Edmund Garden as 'Mr Kyrle'. The Royal Olympic Theatre was a 1,700-seater theatre located in Wych Street, at the southern end of Drury Lane, which was demolised to make way for the new Aldwych/Strand roadway. The Olympic Theatre was located in the area now occupied by the front (north) portion of Bush House.

The second version of The Woman in White presented in London was adapted by Melissa Murray and was presented at the Greenwich Theatre - previewed from 2 December 1988, opened on 5 December 1988, and closed on 21 January 1989 - with a cast that featured Jane Gurnett as 'Marian Halcombe', Michael Byrne as 'Count Fosco', Helena Bonham Carter as the Woman in White, 'Anne Catherick'/'Laura Fairlie', Gerald Logan as 'Walter Hartwright', Richard Albrecht as 'Sir Percival Glyde', Alec Linstead as 'Mr Gilmore', Barbara Kirby as 'Mrs Catherick'/'Countess Fosco'/'Mrs Vesey', and Paul McCleary as 'Professor Pesca'/'Louis'. Directed by Sue Dunderale, with designs by Alexandra Byrne. This production was notable for being the professional stage debut of Helena Bonhom Carter.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's London theatre musicals include with David Zippel Cinderella; with Tim Rice Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Jesus Christ Superstar; with Jim Steinman Whistle Down The Wind; with Richard Stilgoe Starlight Express; with Charles Hart The Phantom Of The Opera; with Don Black Tell Me On A Sunday; with Don Black and Charles Hart Aspects of Love; with Don Black and Christopher Hampton Sunset Boulevard; with T S Eliot Cats; with Alan Ayckbourn By Jeeves.

2004: West End London Premiere at the Palace Theatre

Previewed 28 August 2004, Opened 15 September 2004, Closed 25 February 2006 at the Palace Theatre

The ORIGINAL cast from Saturday 28 August 2004 to Saturday 9 July 2005 featured Maria Friedman as 'Marian Halcombe', Michael Crawford as 'Count Fosco' (up to Wednesday 9 February 2005, Steve Varnom as 'Count Fosco' - see note below), Michael Ball as 'Count Fosco' (from Thursday 10 February to Saturday 30 April 2005), Anthony Andrews as 'Count Fosco' (from Monday 2 May to Saturday 27 August 2005), Angela Christian as 'Anne Catherick' AKA 'the Woman in White', Martin Crewes as 'Walter Hartwright', Oliver Darley as 'Sir Percival Glyde', Jill Paice as 'Laura Fairlie', Edward Petherbridge as 'Mr Fairlie', Adrian Der Gregorian, Andrew Keelan, Christopher Connah, Elinor Collett, Eoin Cannon, Gregory Clarice, Helen George, James Spilling, Jo Napthine, Joanna Kirkland, John Griffiths, Marie Goldthorp, Nicky Adams, Paul Kemble, Steve Vamom, Susie Fenwick, Vincent Pirillo, and Yvette Robinson.

The SECOND cast from Monday 11 July 2005 to Saturday 25 February 2006 featured Ruthie Henshall as 'Marian Halcombe' (from Monday 11 July 2005 to Saturday 4 February 2006), Yvette Robinson will star as 'Marian Halcombe' (from Monday 6 February to Saturday 25 February 2006), Anthony Andrews as 'Count Fosco' (from Monday 2 May to Saturday 27 August 2005), Simon Callow as 'Count Fosco' (from Monday 29 August to Saturday 26 November 2005), David Burt as 'Count Fosco' (from Monday 28 November 2005 to Saturday 25 February 2006), Elinor Collett as 'Anne Catherick' AKA 'the Woman in White', Damian Humbley as 'Walter Hartright', Michael Cormick as 'Sir Percival Glyde', Alexandra Silber as 'Laura Fairlie', Edward Petherbridge as 'Mr Fairlie', Alice Fearn, Andrew Keelan, Andy Mace, C J Johnson, Cathy Cogle, Christopher Connah, Dale Branston, Dean Chisnall, Gregory Clarke, Jeremy Secomb, Jo Napthine, John Griffiths, Paul Kemble, Richard Kent, Susie Fenwick, Tim Walton, Yvette Robinson, and Zoe Rainey.

Directed by Trevor Nunn, with choreography by Wayne McGregor, designs and video by William Dudley, lighting by Paul Pyant, and sound by Mick Potter.

In late December 2004, after some four months of playing the role of 'Count Fosco' which required wearing a 'fat-suit', Michael Crawford started to unfortunately develop 'flu-like' symptoms, causing him to start missing performances. This got progressive worse in January 2005, with the understudy, Steve Varnom, playing at many, if not most, performances. Micheal Ball temorarily stepped into the role at short notice, and it was hoped that Michael Crawford would recover enough to return on Monday 2 May 2005 to play for a further month-or-so. This did not happen, instead Anthony Andrews joined the cast to play 'Fosco'. It was later revealed that Michael Crawford's illness was related to 'over-sweating' while wearing the fat-suit.

"Lloyd Webber and his new collaborators have gone for a determinedly light-weight and simplified version of an infinitely complex novel. The director, Trevor Nunn - still trading on the many lessons he learnt in Nicholas Nickelby - keeps the story moving on the grand scale with a cast of 30 and with nearly 20 songs to sing in less than three hours, there is not likely to be time for much fine-tuning... Maria Friedman has the best of the music, and is suitably feisty as the half-sister who leads the avenging women. Webber and Nunn have delivered exactly what the West End always needs - a soaring, lyrical, romantic drama whose every scene lends itself as if by magic to precisely the kind of music that Lloyd Webber writes best." The Daily Express

"Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical, The Woman in White, is like entering one of his prized pre-Raphaelite paintings. Luscious, lavish, sensual, romantic and melodramatic, with acres of flowing hair and images of adored or oppressed women. OK, it's occasionally so rich and sickly that it's like wading through chocolate, but if you don't mind gorging yourself, it's an irresistible feast... Charlotte Jones has done a neat job condensing this tale of two sisters... Jones has also transformed the novel's notorious baddie, Count Fosco, into the type of lovable rogue more familiar in operetta... If some of the thrills of the novel are missing, the frills are there in abundance. Where this show scores is in Wi1liam Dudley's ingenious designs; video projections on a revolving screen whisk us in and out of a country mansion as well as an ancient asylum... Lloyd Webber is in splendid form, and there's much to enjoy in Trevor Nunn's characteristically sumptuous direction. All that's lacking is the fear factor of the original." The Mail on Sunday

"If you are going to get the most out of Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical The Woman in White, at the Palace Theatre, it is best not to have read the novel by Wilkie Collins on which it is based, or to try to forget it if you have read it - although that's an almost impossible task. Lloyd Webber's show has a good deal to be said for it, in terms of music, design and performances, but he has been let down by Charlotte Jones, who is responsible for the stage adaptation. No one could convert a 600-page novel into a theatrical entertainment without making countless cuts... Charlotte Jones may have thought she was making the story more acceptable to modern tastes, but in practice she relocates it in the territory where Mills meets Boon... For all its disappointing aspects, the show offers an enjoyable evening out. My guess it will run and run - but I don't think it will run and run and run." The Sunday Telegraph

The Woman in White in London at the Palace Theatre previewed from 28 August 2004, opened on 15 September 2004, and closed on 25 February 2006.

2017: London Revival at the Charring Cross Theatre

Previewed 20 November 2017, Opened 4 December 2017, Closed 10 February 2018 at the Charring Cross Theatre

Revival with revised music and lyrics.

The cast featured Carolyn Maitland as 'Marian Halcombe', Greg Castiglioni as 'Count Fosco', Sophie Reeves as 'Anne Catherick' AKA 'the Woman in White', Ashley Stillburn as 'Walter Hartright', Chris Peluso as 'Sir Percival Glyde', and Anna O'Byrne as 'Laura Fairlie'.

Directed by Thom Southerland, with movement Cressida Carre, sets by Morgan Large, costume by Jonathan Lipman, lighting by Rick Fisher, and sound by Andrew Johnson.