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Big Time! In Concert Starring Jessica Hynes, Neil McDermott…

LIONEL BART English musical composer in 1960
LIONEL BART English musical composer in 1960

Theatre Royal Stratford East plays host to Big Time! In Concert, which is a joyful celebration of the life and work of the maestro of British musicals and pop music, Lionel Bart, for three performances only this October, 2015.

Big Time! In Concert charts Lionel’s life from childhood to his first forays into song writing, on to his time with Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop Company and subsequent West End successes and failures. Best known for writing Oliver!, he was the first British songwriter to have success in the American charts penning hits for Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Shirley Bassey, Anthony Newley, Adam Faith and a host of others, as well as being the original manager of The Rolling Stones.

For some time, Theatre Royal Stratford East was his home where he worked with Joan Littlewood creating the classic Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be. By 1964 he had gone on to have an unprecedented 5 West End hit shows. However by the mid-1960s Bart’s excessive lifestyle combined with drug and alcohol addiction saw his first failure and decline into obscurity. He re-emerged when Cliff Richard and the Young Ones had chart success with Livin’ Doll in 1986 and also won a Lifetime Achievement Ivor Novello award that same year.

Come (transferring to the West End and North American tour) and the Olivier nominated The Big Life.

This joyful production is set to a playlist of classic Bart songs including I’d do Anything, Do you Mind, Livin’ Doll, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be and Consider Yourself among many others.

The cast includes BAFTA award winner Jessica Hynes (Spaced, The Royle Family, W1A, The Norman Conquests) Neil McDermott (EastEnders, Shrek, The Sound of Music), Lee Ryan (Blue), Sonny Jay (Loveable Rogues), Tony Howes, David Charkham and 60’s music and theatre star Grazina Frame (Every Day’s a Holiday, Blitz!). Accompanied by a 14 piece orchestra, Big Time! is a concert framing of the extraordinary life and work of Lionel Bart featuring 27 songs including familiar classics and unheard gems.

Theatre Royal Stratford East is one of the most prolific developers and producers of new musical theatre in the UK, with its work transferring nationally and internationally. Musicals brought to stage over the last ten years include The Infidel The Musical, the UK Theatre Award-nominated Glasgow Girls and West End transfers The Harder They Come and Olivier nominated The Big Life, which was the first black British musical to transfer to the West End.
Running time: approximately 2 hours 15 minutes (including interval)

Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, London E15 1BN


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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