Obituary: Lionel Bart

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The Independent Culture
YOUR OBITUARY of Lionel Bart [by Tom Vallance, 5 April] was right to point out his tendency towards self-destruction, writes Professor Barry Fantoni. There were so many instances but one in particular should be put on record, as it concerned a stage during his career when his popularity was at a low ebb and a real chance to revive it was on offer.

Sometime during the Seventies John Wells and I wrote a musical based on his life, which featured all his best-loved songs. The show was called Lionel (no exclamation mark) and opened at the theatre where Cats now plays. The final curtain on the first night was greeted with much warmth and plenty of applause. It looked certain for a run. Then Lionel was asked up on the stage for a few words. They were: "This is the worst show I have ever seen. Don't bother coming to see it." No one did and Lionel closed after eight weeks.

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