Opening Nights

Russell Davies looks at the stories behind the opening nights of well-known musicals.

Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
Peter Pan20041223

Russell Davies presents an insight into the world premiere of Barrie's Peter Pan in Christmas 1904, where the author tested the flying harness and Gerald Du Maurier was the first Captain Hook.

0101Oklahoma!19990605

31 March 1943 - the lead dancer has a plaster cast on his leg, money is short and there is no audience.

A hit is about to be born.

0102Les Miserables1999060619990619

After thirteen years, `Les Mis' is claimed to be the most popular musical in the world, but on opening night, the future of the first collaboration between the commercial theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company was looking much less certain.

0104Me And My Girl1999062019990703

In a five-part series, 4: `Me and My Girl'.

Noel Gay's son Richard Armitage wanted to update his father's hit from the 30s, but the producers, director, writer and leading lady had never done a musical before - and there was no script.

But the British period piece that gave us `The Lambeth Walk' went on to become a major modern musical.

0104Me And My Girl1999062719990703

In a five-part series, 4: `Me and My Girl'.

Noel Gay's son Richard Armitage wanted to update his father's hit from the 30s, but the producers, director, writer and leading lady had never done a musical before - and there was no script.

But the British period piece that gave us `The Lambeth Walk' went on to become a major modern musical.

0105 LASTMy Fair Lady1999070419990710

When in rehearsals, its English stars introduced their American producers to a very important ritual - afternoon tea! Rex Harrison thought the audience did not like his character and Julie Andrews found it difficult to put herself in Eliza's shoes.

0201West Side Story2001011420010127

Davies traces the progress of this milestone in the history of the musical.

Sheridan Morley, who was at its West End opening in 1958, recalls the event.

Contributors include Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, Chita Rivera and George Chakiris.

0202Salad Days2001012120010203

Hastily assembled in 1954 to fill a gap at the Bristol Old Vic, this escapist, tuneful musical quickly transferred to the West End.

Davies talks to Sheridan Morley and members of the original cast about the longest-running musical of its time.

0204The Boyfriend2001020420010217

Russell Davies looks at the stories behind the opening nights of well-known shows.

In this programme, he is joined by the creator of `The Boyfriend', which was originally conceived as a brief show to be put on for three weeks.

It transferred to the Wyndham's Theatre in January 1954, and had a record-breaking run.

0205Evita2001021120010224

He hears from the cast of `Evita' about the events that led up to the opening night in 1978.

Including contributions from Tim Rice, Joss Ackland, lighting director David Hersey and theatre critic Michael Billington

0206Blood Brothers2001022520010303
0301Fiddler On The Roof2002061120030217

With lyricist Sheldon Harnick and composer Jerry Bock.

0302Phantom Of The Opera2002061820030224
0303Oh What A Lovely War2002062520030303

Joan Littlewood, Victor Spinetti and Murray Melvin recall their ironic assault.

0304Expresso Bongo2002070220030310

The first `rock 'n' roll musical', as Time Out magazine described it, opened in April 1958.

0305 LASTOliver2002070920030317

Lionel Bart's adaptation of the Charles Dickens story premiered in June 1960.