I've been reading a book about London theatres over xmas and am curious about the Bridewell, just off Fleet Street. I have only been once to see a friend in an amateur show so was surprised to read that for several years it was a real power house producer of musical theatre premieres and attracted some quite starry performers. But there is little online explaining what happened to change that - it now seems to mainly host am-dram companies. Does anyone know when the trajectory of the place changed?
The Bridewell was run by a maverick producer/director Carol Metcalfe who had the genius of converting this old swimming pool (yes!) into a Theatre space. She started with very small amateur productions ( I seem to recall The Merchant of Venice) and then began the run of musicals with her own production of Damn Yankees (1996) with a stellar cast of professionals and continued presenting scaled down versions of "big" shows: On The Twentieth Century; Promises, Promises; Passion, Romance, Romance; Purlie; Hello Again; On A Clear Day; Floyd Collins; Victor, Victoria; High Spirits; Saturday Night. I think it was the start of largely well cast, unamplified productions and there was much to admire about the versatility of the performing area. I think funding became an issue and Metcalfe was forced out of the venue; she directed a West End revival of Sweet Charity in 1998 but now seems to have disappeared and the venue which was indeed at that time a "powerhouse" has faded into oblivion. Sad.
The swimming pool pit is still very much there, under the seating area and blanked over but sections can be lifted if needed. Even changing stalls can be found at the stage end up in the gallery level, now storing theatre equipment. I think it sees its roll these days as serving the community so is pretty much the preserve of am drams and drama schools.
Post by Someone in a tree on Jan 6, 2021 11:39:04 GMT
I saw some great things there
-Jenna Russell in Hello Again -Jessica Martin as Mrs L in Sweeney. One of my all time great productions and they used the swimming pool as the grave. -Clare Burt in Passion -Helen Hobson in Is there life after high school.
The above three were all outstanding.
Gutted to have missed Saturday Night and Rebecca Front in Marry me a little.
I do remember a terrible Victor / Victoria with a young Ria Jones
All of the above is bragging and not much history. Sorry!
I saw Saturday Night there and its only one of 2 Sondheim shows I don't really like (Passion bring the other)
Also saw Anyone Can Whistle there with (I think) Janie Dee.
SEDOS have also done some pretty good musicals there too.
Gutted to have missed Saturday Night. Not Uncle Steve's finest but it does have some really good songs in.
The Whistle didn't really work and not just because Paula Wilcox looked so nervous throughout the whole thing... And yup Jannie Dee was Fay and Edward Baker-Duly was fresh out of the NT's South Pacific and gave us his Hopwood. I thought Jannie and Edward were really good in an OK production of show with a great score but terrible book.
Post by Cardinal Pirelli on Jan 7, 2021 14:34:24 GMT
I was sat next to Sheridan Morley for Saturday Night, who promptly dropped and lost his pencil after five minutes, Not sure what his review came out like. Pippin was excellent. Also particularly liked Floyd Collins, Of Thee I Sing (with Gavin Lee), Hello Again, Is There Life After High School, Songs for a New World (with post show chat by JRB) and Rags (maybe my favourite production seen there).
The biggest disappointment was Anyone Can Whistle. Weak direction and possibly the most amateurish lighting design I’ve seen in a professional show (to be charitable, it may have been because of a board meltdown).