A few months back, I wrote here about a possible movie biography of Lionel Bart, the creator of Oliver! among other things, which is reported to star Geoffrey Rush. I have no idea if it will ever get made, but I came across a rarity that fits in nicely with that -- an interview with Lionel Bart himself. It's the only one I've come across thus far.
This comes from 1987, on a British show called All Our Yesterdays.which ran intermittently for about 15 years, the later years hosted by Bernard Braden. (User comments on YouTube are filled with affectionate words for Braden, something I will have to trust since I think he comes across as forced and pompous here.) But Bart comes across as relaxed and warm, a bit of a surprise given his troubles over the years with alcohol and drugs which impacted him losing all his money, though that was helped along by him investing in one of his.own shows, Twang (about Robin Hood) which was a disastrous flop in 1965.
(Side note: When Cameron Mackintosh produced a revival of Oliver! in 1994 with Jonathan Pryce as Fagin, Bart had long-since sold off his rights to the show, needing the money. However, in an act of great generosity, Mackintosh gave him a percentage of the royalties. Tangentially, there are reports that Mackintosh is trying to get the film rights to the show in order to remake the Oscar-winning Best Picture, though apparently the rights are tangled in many ways. I sort of think that's a good thing, since Oliver! doesn't strike me as crying out to be remade, wonderful and honored as it is. I'm sure a remake would be very good, but...so what?)
Back to the interview, most interesting is Lionel Bart telling about how the musical Oliver! came about -- a very surprising story! -- and the subsequent difficulties he had trying to interest any producers. And later, he discusses some fascinating potential collaborations that almost came to be, but never did. For some, it might have been interesting to see what would have come of that, though I'm not sure if all were matches made in heaven.
In between, he talks about a show that was a solid hit in London, but is unknown in the U.S., Fings Ain't Wot They Used to Be. I have the cast album for it, which was recorded live on stage. That gives it a vibrancy, though also makes it a bit difficult to understand with clarity much being sung, aided as well by heavy Cockney accents, as you might imagine from the title. I'm not crazy about the album, but there are a few nice things in it, particularly the title song which is quite lively.
Anyway, here is Lionel Bart.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor