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0001 - Blitz (1962)
Musique: Lionel Bart
Paroles: Lionel Bart
Livret: Joan Maitland • Lionel Bart
Production originale:
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Compared to Oliver! This show is now virtually unknown but was originally described by one critic ‘a breathtaking theatrical adventure which restores spectacle to British musicals on a huge imaginative scale’.

Genèse: Blitz! opened in London 8 May 1962 at the Adelphi Theatre, while Bart's enormous West End success Oliver! was still running at the New Theatre; at that time Oliver! had not yet been produced on Broadway. Blitz ran for 568 performances. It never ran on Broadway: between its scale and the fact that New Yorkers could hardly be expected to share Londoners' nostalgia for the period, it proved "unexportable". Bart wrote the music and lyrics, and had directed the original London production himself; Joan Maitland contributed to the libretto. Sean Kenny designed the elaborate sets, which included representations of Victoria Station, Petticoat Lane, and the Bank underground station, not to mention London on fire during an air raid. Four revolving house units and an enormous, mobile overhead bridge carried on two shifting towers made it, at the time, the most expensive West End musical ever produced. Noël Coward called it "twice as loud and twice as long as the real thing." The song "The Day After Tomorrow" was specially written by Bart for Vera Lynn. Lynn had been a star at the time of the German bombing attacks; in the play, the characters listen to Lynn sing it on the radio while they shelter underground. Lynn did not actually appear onstage during the production, but she recorded the song for it, and the production used her recording on the "radio". The play also makes use of a recording of a Winston Churchill radio speech. The role of Mrs. Blitztein was played by Amelia Bayntun in the original cast; it was her only role in a stage musical. The cast included a large number of children. There is a scene in which the children are to be evacuated from London; they cheerfully sing "We’re Going To The Country", while their mothers try to put on a cheerful face. The children's chorus "Mums and Dads" was a "showstopper"[6] that drew much radio play. The musical was never seen for many years, largely because the original scores went missing during Bart's turbulent years. It was reassembled in Australia by 19 year old Andrew Jarrett, a Bart devotee, with orchestrations by Kevin Hocking, Jack Westmore and Stephen Smith. So impressed was Bart, that he came out of obscurity and travelled to Australia for Jarrett's triumphant production in 1985. The Royal Shakespeare Company's intended 1990 revival (for the fiftieth anniversary of the Blitz) never happened, although the National Youth Theatre did revive it in London's West End at the Playhouse Theatre in September 1990 with Jarrett imported as Music Director. This production was directed by Edward Wilson and choreographed by David Toguri, with the role of Mrs. Blitzstein played by Jessica Stephenson (now Hynes), (now an established UK screen actor). According to the review in The Guardian "Edward Wilson's production for the NYT is necessarily more modest and contains some beautiful, slate-grey designs from Brian Lee: his backdrop of a soaring-arched Victorian railway terminus is stunning. David Toguri's musical staging shows his customary flair, camouflaging the cast's vocal weaknesses by bringing out their physical athleticism. And Jessica Stevenson as the mob-capped Mrs Blitzstein admirably conveys truculent working-class defiance." Benedict Nightingale wrote in his review: "But the strongest performance comes from Jessica Stevenson as a Jewish matriarch able to sing a silly song about baking cakes being the answer to all ills, yet remain quietly dignified throughout. Here is an apprentice actress to encourage."[8] This production became the basis for a touring Northern Stage Company revival starring Diane Langton as Mrs. Blitztein. A revival production of Blitz was put on at the Queens Theatre in Hornchurch in 2000 including members of the Queens Theatre's own youth groups playing many characters alongside the resident cast.

Résumé: The story centers on the relationship between a Jewish family, the Blitzteins, and a Cockney family, the Lockes, in 1940s London as the city takes a pounding from Hitler’s bombs. At first Mrs. Blitztein and Alfie Locke work at adjacent food stalls – and can’t stand each other. But when their children fall in love with each other and Hitler’s bombing intensifies, Mrs. Blitztein and Alfie are able to bury the hatchet and become friends.

Création: 8/5/1962 - Adelphi Theatre (Londres) - représ.