A 21-strong team will take to the stage this spring in the new touring co-production of Betty Blue Eyes.
Fresh from his rôle with The Book of Mormon, Haydn Oakley stars as Gilbert Chilvers. Amy Booth-Steel, currently appearing in the National Theatre’s The Light Princess, will play Gilbert’s wife, determined social-climber Joyce Chilvers The rest of the confirmed cast are:Sally Mates, Laura Baldwin, Adam C Booth, Ricky Butt Rebecca Louis, Kate Robson-Stuart, Oliver Izod, Joe Maxwell,Tobias Beer,Jenni Bowden,Rachel Knowles,Lauren Logan,Matt Harrop,Kit Benjamin andAnthony Ray.
Set in 1947 austerity Britain, Betty Blue Eyes tells the story of humble chiropodist Gilbert Chilvers and his ferocious wife Joyce. When an invitation to the social event of the year fails to materialise, the Chilvers resolve that they must do whatever it takes to get their fair share of the banquet’s centrepiece – a rations-busting illegal pork roast!
Haydn’s extensive theatre credits include Wonderful Town at Manchester Royal Exchange, The Secret Garden at Edinburgh Festival Theatre and Passion at Donmar Warehouse. He has also appeared in Wicked and Spamalot.
In addition to The Light Princess, Amy’s stage credits include the National Theatre’s production of She Stoops To Conquer, the UK tour of One Man, Two Guvnors and the rôle of La Rosa in Sister Act at The London Palladium. Amy also made the final 12 in the BBC’s search for Nancy in I’d Do Anything.
Amy said:“Joyce is such a well rounded character as she has strength and wit, yet also shows moments of real vulnerability and warmth. She has some fantastic comic scenes with Gilbert and Mother Dear which are absolutely hilarious. She’s so spunky! Nothing gets past Joyce. It’s going to be such a wonderful challenge taking on this rôle and putting a fresh spin on it.”
Haydn said:“I saw the original production of Betty in London and had a fantastic evening. It has real heart and some fantastic musical numbers. I’m looking forward to giving Betty a new life with the company – I know the work we put into it is going to produce something special. I can already tell from the audition that I’m going to enjoy working with the director Daniel Buckroyd.”
Playing Mother Dear, Gilbert’s interfering mother-in-law, is Sally Mates.
No stranger to musical theatre, Sally was in the original RSC and West End cast of Les Miserables. She appeared in the 25th anniversary concert at the O2 Arena, as well as the 2012 film. Sally has also appeared in the West End productions of Godspell and Fiddler On The Roof, as well as on popular TV shows Midsomer Murders and Wire In The Blood.
When asked what attracted her to the rôle, Sally said:
“Mother Dear is such a wonderful character. She’s terrified of losing her marbles and being put away – possibly in a sty! She’s bonkers and incredibly funny. I love music, comedy and animals so Betty Blue Eyes is the perfect mix for me.”
Director Daniel Buckroyd said:
“Betty Blue Eyes is the biggest show the Mercury has produced in many years. Supporting Amy, Haydn and Sally will be 18 experienced actors, singers, dancers and musicians from the West End and the best of regional theatre. I’m delighted that we’ve been able to assemble such a fantastic multi-talented company of performers for the regional premiere.”
Choreography is provided by Andrew Wright, winner of the 2013 WhatsOnStage Award for Best Choreographer, and nominated at the 2012 Olivier Awards and the 2011 Broadway World Awards. His numerous credits include Singin’ In The Rain at the Palace Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre and the national tour, Barnum for Chichester Festival Theatre and Cameron Mackintosh, and the national tour of Wonderful Town.
The Mercury Theatre’s Richard Reeday is Musical Director. Richard’s previous theatre credits at the Mercury include The History Boys, Quadrophenia, and The Hired Man, the latter earned Richard a nomination for Regional Musical Direction Award in the Broadway World Awards 2013.
Betty Blue Eyes opens on March 14th at the Mercury Theatre before embarking on a 5 month tour across England in a new co-production between Mercury Theatre Colchester, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Salisbury Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse.