Play on! Give me excess of it…
Excess… That’s Lionel Bart. He made and squandered a fortune.. and the Greek chorus of tabloid middle England thrilled to his Icarus fall.
Along the way he gave us the most beloved English stage musical of them all – Oliver! – as well as one of the biggest flops – Twang!!!. Yes, that’s THREE exclamation points in the title. (Bart even punctuated to excess.)
Did success go to his head? Or was it the blizzard of cocaine?
Musicals, number one pop hits, the story of the East Ender who had the chutzpah to make Charles Dickens his junior partner is as rich a tale as any ever made in London.
If he’d been a New Yorker they’d have renamed a Broadway playhouse in his honour. Maybe an entire street. Why no such garlands in his home town? A multiple outsider – Jewish, gay, working class – was he one outsider too many?
We’ll follow him from Stepney to Chelsea via the West End through the highs (of all kinds) and lows – with cameo appearances from Judy Garland, Georgia Brown & Joan Littlewood along the way.