David Benedict on Theatre

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The Independent Culture
Why risk writing a new musical when you can revive a classic or better (cheaper) still, string together a bunch of old hits? Compilation is the name of the game and the West End is awash with them. Only the Lonely - (aka Only the Desperate) - is The Roy Orbison Story, or 42 songs packaged to paid-up fans who appear not to mind that some of the on-stage impersonators bear no resemblance to the pop idols in question, bar the wig. Buddy (Holly, for those newly-awoken from 100 years of sleep), the show that ends with a concert, continues to pack 'em in and its now wealthy producers' next plan for world domination comes in the form of Jolson. At its glamorous Savoy Hotel launch it had already taken pounds 500,000 in pre- sales.

Five Guys Named Moe ran for four-and-a-half years in the West End, closed and re-opened within a matter of weeks, such was the demand for tickets. Meanwhile, Clarke Peters (right), its creator, hasn't spent all that time lying around counting his percentage. Unforgettable, the Nat King Cole Story is his latest venture and it's in preview at the Garrick Theatre. Peters's velvet-voiced ability to mimic the cool crooner of Let There Be Love, Mona Lisa and the definitive version of Stardust, should encourage fans across the country to book a trip to the capital.

three to see

Assassins: A rare outing for Sondheim's dark diamond of a show. Closes Saturday. Derby Playhouse

The House of Mirth: Method and Madness's resourceful adaptation of Edith Wharton. Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury

Insignificance: Terry Johnson's revival of his famous Einstein-meets- Marilyn Monroe play. Donmar Warehouse, London

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