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The Animals’ Alan Price Leads Musical “Andy Capp” From Stage Door Records

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Andy CappWhen the musical Andy Capp premiered at London’s Aldwych Theatre (current home to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Stephen Ward) in September 1982, cartoonist Reg Smythe’s beloved character took his place alongside Little Orphan Annie, Snoopy and Li’l Abner as comic strip creations-turned-musical heroes.  The frequently inebriated, cap-wearing, chronically unemployed ne’er-do-well made his debut in The Daily Mirror on August 5, 1957 and readers quickly became engrossed in the daily gags featuring Andy, his wife Florrie and their neighbors Chalkie and Rube.  (The strip continues today in the same publication.)  The stage adaptation was conceived by Mirror editor Mike Molloy and became a reality thanks to an Animal and a Peacock – that is, Alan Price of The Animals, and Trevor Peacock, the songwriter of “Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter,” among other songs.  On March 31, the Original West End Cast Recording of Andy Capp makes its debut on CD from Stage Door Records.

Reg Smythe gave his blessing to the musical with a book by Peacock, music by Price, and lyrics by both gentlemen.  Peacock had the difficult task of fleshing out the characters for a full evening of musical theatre.  He told Capp biographer Les Lilley that “I had to invent a plot, so I introduced a young couple who were getting married. Then, because Andy is always so bossy with Florrie, I created another family in which the man is completely under the thumb of the woman. I seem to remember it was Andy’s nephew who was the boy. He was called Elvis Horsepole, and he was marrying the daughter of this other family in which the mother was on top.”  Oscar-nominated actor Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago) was a northern lad like Price and the fictional Capp.  He added a bit of luster, not to mention authenticity, to the production when he agreed to play Andy.  Val McLane portrayed Florrie, John Bardon was Chalkie, and Price himself appeared in the role of Geordie.  The musical’s set was decorated with images from Smythe’s comics.

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Written by Joe Marchese

March 28, 2014 at 11:51