Gary Kemp to lead cast in show at Stratford theatre

Gary Kemp will lead the cast of Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be at Theatre Royal Stratford East

Gary Kemp will lead the cast of Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be at Theatre Royal Stratford East - Credit: Archant

Gary Kemp, former Spandau Ballet singer and songwriter who has also had a successful film career, will lead the cast in a production of Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be.

Kemp, who also starred in The Bodyguard, The Krays, will be joined by EastEnders actress Jessie Wallace in the show which will be staged at Theatre Royal Stratford East from May 8 until June 8 before embarking on a UK tour.

BAFTA nominated Jessie Wallace will be Lil and Gary Kemp will be PC Collins in a musical that coincides with Joan Littlewood’s Centenary.

The show was initially developed in 1959 by Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop Company at Theatre Royal Stratford East, before transferring to the West End’s Garrick Theatre where it ran for 886 performances and won an Evening Standard Award for Best Musical. The show launched the career of Barbara Windsor and provided the name for the popular hit song by Max Bygraves.

It is set at the end of the 1950’s, preceding the birth of rock and roll and the Beatles, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be is a witty and warm-hearted musical set within an East End underworld of gamblers, spivs, prostitutes and Teddy boys. Written by ex-con Frank Norman, the show tells the tale of Fred, a loveable rogue, who comes out of prison to find he is not quite the king of the manor he once was.

Kerry Michael, Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East said: “In celebration of Joan Littlewood’s 100th birthday year, we’re looking forward to reviving this populist classic. It’s an exciting contrast to Oh What A Lovely War and demonstrates the great breadth of work undertaken by Joan and her Theatre Workshop Company.”

Fings was initially discovered by Joan Littlewood, who began directing the show as a play, before engaging the legendary writer and composer Lionel Bart to write songs for the show. Known for his seminal work on Oliver! (written three years after Fings), Bart grew up in London’s East End and was renowned for his use of cockney wit and charm within his songs.

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