Whatever happened to Bette and Joan?

Friday 9 March 2007

62babyjanex1.jpgAfter visiting the Old Vic the other night, among the many important discussions about really important things over a much needed glass of something, the Whingers wondered, Whatever happened to Bette and Joan“?

Malcolm McKay’s play, based on Bette and Joan – The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine, has been whispered about in certain quarters for some time, as it deals with the infamous rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. Andrew and Phil, always on the lookout for exciting and dangerous new projects had their appetites well and truly whetted by the prospect.

A quick google search revealed that it’s still in the Old Vic’s plans as part of the Old Vic New Voices Season, though it sounds as though it may still be way off (or way out more likely). According to What’s on Stage it is to be set around the sound stages of that 1964 piece of grand guignol Hush, Hush…Sweet Charlotte though Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? sounds more likely. Either way it just gets better and better.

But no casting has been announced yet. Imagine finding actresses to fill those roles. Oh to be a casting director!

As the wine flowed so did WEW’s imaginations. After seeing the extraordinary Michelle Gomez in the unexpectedly hilarious Boeing Boeing, Phil is rooting for her to be cast as Joan Crawford. Could anyone do imperious better? Or if an older performer is required, Maureen Lipman popped into Phil’s frivolous mind. Better yet Faye Dunaway seems fairly available these days. Or perhaps Sir Ian McKellen could drag up for the Old Vic again?

Andrew of course took it all a little bit further: “Imagine” he mused slurping back more liquid brain fertiliser, “Judi Dench and Maggie Smith… Judi can play anyone”.

Although we could probably pull it off quite convincingly ourselves, the Whingers are inviting readers to let their imaginations run riot and tell us just who they’d like to see in what has to be the camp-fest to end them all. Leave us a comment outlining who for which role. A prize for the best suggestion. And possibly the eternal gratitude of Mr Spacey.

Update:  As reported by the book’s author below, the Old Vic is unlikely to be staging this. But the competition still stands – in fact it’s got better as there is now actually a prize. Check it out here.

5 Responses to “Whatever happened to Bette and Joan?”

  1. Mark Says:

    Andrew & Phil, are you having a laugh? Who else could play those parts but you two!

  2. Hi.. Thought you should know the Bette and Joan theatrical project, announced with great fanfare and flourish by the Old
    Vic, had no prior clearance from the original author, who did
    let them know, cordially, and subsequent to the announcement,
    that there might be a copyright issue to deal with upfront.
    They never responded, but perhaps, mindful of this, and the continuing popularity of the book in Great Britain (thanks, guys), it was decided to shelve the play. Too bad as I also heard that one of the possible leads discussed was a colleague and good friend of managing director Kevin Spacey. None other than one of your glorious Dames – Judi Dench. For the role of Bette Davis, I assume, though she certainly could bring new dramatic light and riveting shadows to the equally formidable Mary Queen of Scots type co-antagonist – Miss Joan Crawford.


    Shaun Considine

  3. Thanks for the update Shaun. Sounds like a case for the West End Whingers. I think the best thing would be if you, me, Phil, Malcolm McKay, Judi, Maggie and Kev sat down in a room and thrashed things out once and for all. There’s no obstacle that can’t be overcome with a case of Merlot, we find.

  4. Rob Cress Says:

    What an excellent idea for a stage play. Bette and Joan’s real life personas were just as fantastic and entertaining as the many characters they played on screen. I hope a production that serves both stars justice is completed soon.


  5. Just to clarify, this competition has moved here.

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