By Jeeves

By Jeeves

Infobox Musical
name = By Jeeves
subtitle =


caption = Cast Recording
music = Andrew Lloyd Webber
lyrics = Alan Ayckbourn
book = Andrew Lloyd Webber
Alan Ayckbourn
basis = P. G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves" stories
productions = 1975 West End (original)
1996 West End (rewrite)
1996 Goodspeed Opera House
2001 Broadway
(2007 scheduled UK tour)
awards =

"By Jeeves", originally "Jeeves", is a 1975/1996 musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn, based on the novels of P. G. Wodehouse.

"Jeeves" is the original 1975 version, which opened on 22 April 1975 and closed on 24 May after 38 performances at Her Majesty's Theatre, London. It is regarded as Andrew Lloyd Webber's only real flop.

"By Jeeves" is the rewritten 1996 version, which opened 1 May 1996 in London and due to success was extended to February 1997, through three theatres. It made it to the U.S. in 1996 and to Broadway in 2001.

1975: "Jeeves"

Andrew Lloyd Webber conceived the idea of turning P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves stories into a musical. Originally, he was to work with his then-partner, Tim Rice, but Rice backed out of the project. Eventually Lloyd Webber teamed up with famed British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, and the two of them began work with the personal blessing of Wodehouse. Ayckbourn utilized characters and plot lines from several Jeeves and Wooster stories, and Lloyd Webber provided a strong period score.

The show opened in London on 22 April 1975 at Her Majesty's Theatre, starring David Hemmings as Bertie Wooster and Michael Aldridge as Jeeves. It received mixed-to-poor reviews and closed after little over a month and 38 performances, on 24 May. Several critics noted that the authors failed to develop the title character, Jeeves not even having a solo song. It is regarded as Andrew Lloyd Webber's only real flop.

The original cast album (MCA Cat. No. MCF 2726) was recorded and released, but it is extremely hard to find. Lloyd Webber, reportedly acting on the advice of Alan Jay Lerner, withdrew the recording in order to be able to reuse some of the musical material in subsequent shows. Some London theatre fans tell (probably apocryphal) stories of Andrew Lloyd Webber going around London record shops to buy up the remaining copies of the album.

Two songs from the score managed to find a life after the original production: "Half a Moment" was later recorded by Lloyd Webber's second wife, Sarah Brightman, on the album "The Songs That Got Away"; and the melody of "Limericks" was reused in "Song and Dance", first as the finale "When You Want to Fall in Love", and later as a new song in the first act, "Unexpected Song".

1996: "By Jeeves"

In 1996, Lloyd Webber and Ayckbourn decided to revisit the show, jettisoning most of the score and the entire original book. Only two songs from the original show remained, "Banjo Boy" and "Half a Moment". The other songs and musical interludes were mostly new compositions by Lloyd Webber (there was a reworking of a song from "The Likes of Us" called "Travel Hopefully").

Retitled "By Jeeves", the rewritten version re-opened on 1 May 1996 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre-in-the-round in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, an English seaside resort. Audience reaction was generally enthusiastic so the show moved on 2 July 1996 to London for a 12-week season at the fairly intimate Duke of York's Theatre. The show turned out to be more popular than first thought, and the run was extended to February 1997 with the show moved to The Lyric Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue.

Steven Pacey played Bertie Wooster and Malcolm Sinclair played his valet Jeeves. The cast recording has an interesting format, taking a track between every song where Bertie and Jeeves discuss the plot.

The show had its U.S. premiere on 12 November 1996, at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. U.S. actor John Scherer took the part of Bertie, and Richard Kline played Jeeves. The show was specially recorded and released on VHS and DVD where British actor, Martin Jarvis, took over from Richard Kline as Jeeves. It also ran briefly on Broadway in 2001 at the Helen Hayes Theatre.

In 2007, a new UK tour produced by Eastbourne Theatres took place between August and October (premiering on 16 August 2007 at the Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne, and closed on 20 October 2007 at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth), starring Jeffrey Holland as Jeeves, and Robin Armstrong as Bertie. The production played in Blenheim, New Zealand from 6-9 February 2008, at the Marlborough Civic Theatre. The part of Jeeves was played by Nick Kershaw and Bertie by Tom Knowles.

In May 2008, the American Gulf South Premiere of the show was produced by Rivertown Repertory Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana starring Vatican Lokey as Jeeves, Gary Rucker as Bertie, and Edward R. Cox as Sir Watkyn Bassett.

Cornstock Theatre will hold the regional premiere of "By Jeeves" in Central Illinois opening 17 October 2008. The production is directed by Laura Johnson, starring Ryan Campen as Bertie and Mike Reams as Jeeves. Rounding out the cast are Kelsey Burd, Nate Downs, Melissa Grimson, Katy Hawley, Jarod Hazzard, John Johnson, Chris Leasor, Angela Manasco, Katie McLuckie, Dave Montague, Jillian Rebmann, Matt Stubbs and Emily Toohill.

The Genesian Theatre in Sydney, Australia will present the Sydney premiere of "By Jeeves" from 18 October to 6 December 2008.

Featuring: Nick Hunter, Richard Cotter, Rowan Witt, Leon Wasserman, Adam Majsay, Daniel Felkai, Rod Stewart, James Graham, Jacqui Robson, Emily Twemlow, Melanie McLeod, Penelope Webber.


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