Saturday, October 23, 2004

Not A Wilde Success

A new musical, at the Shaw Theatre in London, about Oscar Wilde has closed after one performance, probably setting a new record for theatrical disasters. Only 5 tickets had been sold for the second night. It was written and directed by former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read which should have rung warning bells. One critic wrote: "In 1895, Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years' hard labour. A more cruel and unusual punishment has been devised by the former DJ Mike Read - a musical of exquisite awfulness."
A piece about it on Radio 4 drew parallels with Bordello, a seventies musical about Toulouse-Lautrec which I am proud to have worked on. Indeed, I own what may be the only live recording of the show in existence. But Bordello ran for several weeks in Shaftesbury Avenue, though God knows how. Even one of the earliest examples of full frontal nudity on the London stage couldn't save it. This was graciously provided by Lynda Bellingham (currently in ITV's The Bill) who, when you encountered her backstage completely naked, would smile and say good evening without a hint of self-consciousness. What a trouper.
One critic said of Bordello: "I am sorry to report that the show, sporting ten whores and a short man, fails even in this modest achievement, having hardly enough panache to knock the skin off a rice pudding."


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