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Brighton Rock

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22 November 2005:

Brighton Rock, the John Barry / Don Black musical from 2004Don Black revealed to some of his and John Barry's fans at the "Thunderball 40th anniversary" screening that he and John Barry do want to revisit Brighton Rock. Don agreed that it would be very sad if the Almeida season was the beginning and the end of the show. He said that it would need some rewriting and it was clear from what he said that this hasn't happened yet.

He said that it should tour in the provinces first before any attempt at at a further West End run

Don seemed genuinely surprised by the interest expressed in the show.

Cause for guarded optimism then, but don't expect anything in the near future. [Thanks to Pete Greenhill for the information.]

You may wish to post your opinion of the show to the John Barry Appreciation Society page on Facebook. All views welcome, good, bad or indifferent!

07 January 2005:

No CD at present

Mr. Simon Meadon of Bill Kenwright Limited has said thank you for all the e-mails, and that there are no plans at present to produce an album but that he will be in touch if and when circumstances change.

Should they produce the show again either in the same or a revised form the situation may change.

Please do NOT contact Bill Kenwright Limited anymore, as everyone's interest has been noted.

13 October:

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Official production stills;
photographer John Haynes

06/07/10/12 October: Online reviews:

Newspaper (pre)reviews:


04 October: Screen grabs of the BBC Breakfast TV interview, October 4, attended by Don Black and John Barry.

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Breakfast interview with John Barry and Don Black.

It started with an introduction for the viewers to show who JB and DB are. Presenters mentioned James Bond and then what must possibly be Graham Greene's most famous novel "Brighton Rock" and showed what may be the most famous of composisitions JB and DB did together: a clip of Shirley Bassey singing Diamonds Are Forever.

Back to the studio and John Barry was asked to tell what Brighton Rock is all about. Although both gentlemen looked in excellent condition - John growing his hair again - it was fairly obvious that JB didn't really know what to say and Don got in between rather often. Talking a lot faster, he gave the basic information about Brighton Rock much more clearly than John did. Also mentioned that Michael Attenborough must be the best director they could have ever had - having grown up with Brighton Rock.

John told about Roy Boulting storming into Graham Greene's apartment and had the argument with "Graham, no, Wolf Mankowitz". Barry got it wrong at first, then impersonating and mimicking "f****** b*st*rd live on BBC TV.

Don really saved the interview by being lucid and clear. We were treated to a short videoclip of one of the songs, beautiful blue lighting, Pinkie and Rose dancing, the same scene as the photo from Metro that we now have on our website. And the song sounded very lovely indeed.

John and Don were also asked if the musical was finished as far as they were concerned and John said that there were changes and that certainly the reactions from the audience are an indication. Don Black got in between again - lightening things up after grumbling and mumbling JB, by saying that there is a saying in "our business: a musical is never finished, it just opens."

The presenters thanked Don Barry John, no John Barry and Don Black. In all, it was a little confusing. And not at all clear where Brighton Rock is being shown.


22 October: John Barry & Don Black on Brighton Rock on BBC Radio 4, October 1, at 7.15 p.m. - "Front Row".

28 September: Article in Metro (received October 1)

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23 September:

We have the complete songlist. Some songs might disappear or be replaced during the run:

  • Razor Theme - instrumental
  • They Didn't Have To Kill him - Pinkie
  • You See If I Don't - Pinkie
  • The Holiday Crowd - Ensemble
  • You Never Know Where You Are With Pinkie - Spicer, Dallow & Cubitt)
    the above song has been cut
  • Hello Sweetheart - Ida
  • Lucky To Be Alive - Ida (background to scene - not featured)
  • You And Me Have Things In Common - Pinkie
  • Something Fishy - Ida
  • Dance Hall - Instrumental
  • I'll Never Let You Down - Rose
  • Some Things Never Leave You - Pinkie
  • Play Your Cards Right - Colleoni
  • Marry Her I Have To - Pinkie
  • The Favourite Doesn't Always Win - Ensemble and Pinkie
  • Panic - Pinkie
  • You Love Who You Love - Rose


  • Don't Keep On - Ida & Phil
  • You Can't Beat A Wedding - Judy, Dallow & Pinkie
  • No One Laughed - Pinkie
  • It'll Do - Rose
  • Brighton Rock - Ida
  • You And Me Reprise - Pinkie
  • Brighton Rock Reprise - Ida

19 September:

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The Brighton Rock chaps.

19 September:

Article from September 16, "Bleak tale with Bright future?", Nick Smurthwaite on The Stage website (link no longer works)

26 September: Third poster

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10 September: Second poster

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06 September: We have the poster

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10 August: Already people are asking about the chances of an original cast album, but I feel it's much too early to speculate.

It would be rare for an album to be issued on the back of a short run at a small theatre. Of course, a West End transfer would make an album a near certainty.

We do know a total of 19 songs have been written but not if they will all end up in the musical.

02 August: there was a meet & greet and read/sing through today, August 2, and all went well. In attendance were the full cast and director, Giles Havergal, Don Black and JB with his wife Laurie.

I was informed that our book "A Life In Music" is on the "information" table along with various other reference tomes and it turns out that Mike Attenborough knows an awful lot about JB's film music.

Full cast list is as follows:

Pinkie Brown - Michael Jibson
Dallow - David Burt
Cubitt - Neil McCaul
Spicer - Paul Bentall
Judy - Corinna Powlesland
Rose - Sophia Ragavelas
Ida Arnold - Harriet Thorpe
Phil Corkery - Gary Milner
Fred Hale - Nick Lumley
Mr Colleoni - Joshua Richards
Crab - Anthony Clegg
Molly - Michelle Hooper
Delia - Elizabeth Price

Ensemble (Holidaymakers, shopkeepers, race goers, etc.)

Mark Oxtoby
Andy Durham
Nina French
Victoria Nalder
Michael Everest

Solicitor Prewitt is out.

22 July: John is about to leave for London. Rehearsals for Brighton Rock begin next week so he'll be involved in that. Hopefully I will get to speak to him at some stage.

13 July: "Attenborough Jnr tackles Brighton Rock" article on mentions more cast members: "Other cast members include Neil McCaul (Cubitt), Corinna Powlesland (Judy), Paul Bentall (Spicer), Joshua Richards (Mr Colleoni), Elizabeth Price (Delia) and Anthony Clegg (Crabb)."

29 June: "25th June 2004 - 'What's on Stage' News Almeida Picks Jibson for Brighton Rock’s Pinkie"

29 June: According to Friday's Daily Mail, Michael Jibson has been chosen to play Pinkie, fresh from an 'Olivier Award' nomination for his performance in the Madness musical, 'Our House', while Rose will be played by Sophia Ragavelas, who has just ended a run as Eponine in 'Les Miserables'

Michael Attenborough is quoted as saying, "It (Brighton Rock) is a portrait of the inside of Pinkie's head and a musical is the best medium to explore that."

29 June: Spanish language article about Brighton Rock and that JB had to tell Graham Greene that his lyrics were no good when they were first working on Brighton Rock 35 years ago.

99 June: Interview with John Barry in The Daily Telegraph, "Graham Greene off key when it came to lyrics By Hugh Davies" (Filed: 07/06/2004), Monday 7 June issue), in the news section on page 9 in the newspaper. Also available on the Telegraph website. [BR page no longer exists] Log in, or register first.

Go to the Almeida Theatre website

20th September - 13th November 2004
The World Première of
Based on the novel by Graham Greene
Music by John Barry
Lyrics by Don Black and Book by Giles Havergal

Whitsun weekend, Brighton, 1937. Three deaths, one marriage and a walk on the pier...

Based on the classic novel by Graham Greene, Brighton Rock is a musical drama set in gangland Brighton, full of smoky pubs, seedy boarding houses and men carrying razors, led by the notorious mobster "Pinkie".

Caught up in the violence of the weekend, the only incriminating witness to a murder is Rose, a 16-year old Catholic girl with a memory for faces and eyes only for Pinkie. A wedding would buy her silence, although Pinkie doesn't believe in love and marriage.

But then again ... till death do us part?

Directed by Michael Attenborough
Designed by Lez Brotherston
Lighting by Tim Mitchell
Musical Direction and Orchestrations by Steven Edis
Choreography by Karen Bruce
Sound by John Leonard

Presented in association with Bill Kenwright

John Barry has written music for over 100 films; his 11 James Bond scores include Goldfinger and Thunderball. He has won five Oscars; for Born Free(song & score), The Lion in Winter, Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves. He has also written four stage musicals including Billy, written in collaboration with Don Black.

Don Black wrote lyrics for Tell Me On A Sunday, Bombay Dreams and book and lyrics for Sunset Boulevard (with Christopher Hampton). His films include five James Bond films and Born Free, for which he won an Oscar. In addition he has won a Golden Globe, two Tony Awards and five Ivor Novellos. In 1999 he was awarded an OBE.

Giles Havergal was for over 30 years Artistic Director if the celebrated Glasgow Citizens Theatre. his adaptations include Summer Lightning, David Copperfield, Death in Venice and Graham Greene's Travels with my Aunt.

24 May: London Theatre Guide, The Almeida 2004/5 programme

21 May: The British Theatre Guide: The Almeida... 2004/5 season programme.

16 May:A Brighton Rock Study Guide, the novel, guide © Andrew Moore, 2000.

16 May: Brighton Rock being announced in

  • "Almeida Theatre's 2004-05 Season to Include Brighton Rock, Russell Beale Macbeth."
  • IndieLondon "Brighton Rock to head new Almeida season"
  • the "What's On" section of Official London Theatre Guide.

10 May: Hot off the press comes news of the Almeida Theatre's new season, which opens with BRIGHTON ROCK (press release from Almeida website:)

Go to theatre website

MICHAEL ATTENBOROUGH to direct World Première of GILES HAVERGAL'S dramatisation of GRAHAM GREENE'S

B R I G H T O N    R O C K

with music by


and lyrics by


Michael Attenborough will direct the world première of Giles Havergal's dramatisation of Graham Greene's classic novel, Brighton Rock. With original music by John Barry and lyrics by Don Black, Brighton Rock will open at the Almeida on 20 September with press night on Tuesday 5 October and will run until 13 November.

Designs are by Lez Brotherston, with lighting by Tim Mitchell, musical direction and arrangements by Steven Edis, choreography by Karen Bruce, sound by John Leonard and fights by Terry King.

A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of 1930's Brighton. Pinky, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Caught up in the violence of the weekend, the only incriminating witness to the murder is Rose, a 16 year old Catholic girl with a memory for faces and eyes only for Pinky. A wedding would buy her silence, but though Pinky doesn't believe in love and marriage. Believing he can escape retribution, he is unprepared for the courageous, life-embracing music hall artiste Ida Arnold, who is determined to see justice done. Brighton Rock is a thrilling study of gangland rivalry and the psychology of a psychotic seventeen year old Catholic boy.

John Barry was hired to score his first film in 1960 and has since written music for over one hundred films including Born Free (music and lyrics), The Lion in Winter, Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves as well as eleven James Bond scores including Goldfinger and Thunderball. Barry has written four stage musicals including Billy, which he wrote in collaboration with Don Black. As well as receiving the OBE in 1999, John Barry has won five Oscars, four Grammy Awards, two Ivor Novello Awards and a Golden Globe.

Don Black made his West End debut as a lyricist with composer John Barry on the musical Billy, starring Michael Crawford at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. His more recent theatre work includes lyrics for Tell Me on a Sunday, Bombay Dreams and the book and lyrics (with Christopher Hampton) for Sunset Boulevard for which he won two Tony Awards. He has written over a hundred songs for films including The Italian Job, Out of Africa, five James Bond theme songs and Born Free for which he won an Oscar. In 1999 he was awarded the OBE.

Giles Havergal was Artistic Director of The Glasgow's Citizens' Theatre for over 30 years. Previously he was Director of Watford Palace Theatre. In 1989 Giles Havergal's adaptation of Graham Greene's Travels with My Aunt was presented at the Citizens' Theatre. The production subsequently transferred to the West End, then to Broadway, and in 2002 toured the UK. His other adaptations include Summer Lightening, David Copperfield and Death in Venice.

Michael Attenborough has been Director of the Almeida Theatre Company since 2002. From 1980-84 he was Artistic Director of the Palace Theatre, Watford and between 1984-89 Artistic Director of the Hampstead Theatre. At the Royal Shakespeare Company where he was Executive Producer and Resident Director from 1990-96 and Principal Associate Director between 1996-2002, his productions included Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Henry IV parts 1 & 2 and Anthony and Cleopatra, After Easter by Anne Devlin, Amphibians by Billy Roche, Pentecost and The Prisoner's Dilemma by David Edgar and The Herbal Bed by Peter Whelan which transferred to the West End and then to Broadway. He is now an Honorary Associate Artist of the RSC. For the Almeida he has directed the British première of Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat and the World première of Joanna Laurens' Five Gold Rings.

Graham Greene was born in Hertfordshire in 1904. While at Balliol College, Oxford he published his first book of verse. He continued to write throughout his lifetime, and served with the Secret Intelligence Service during the Second World War. He was a member of the Order of Merit and a Companion of Honour. He died in 1991.

Brighton Rock is presented at the Almeida in association with Bill Kenwright.

10 May: More from the Michael Attenborough interview has appeared in Variety:

"The fall season starts in September with the Almeida's -- and Attenborough's -- first musical, "Brighton Rock." It's adapted from the Graham Greene novel whose 1947 movie version starred Richard Attenborough, Michael's pa, as the young psychopath Pinky.

Giles Havergal, a dab hand at Greene rewrites from his work on "Travels With My Aunt," is adapting the book, with music and lyrics from John Barry and Don Black, respectively; Lez Brotherston ("Swan Lake," "The Dark") will design. Bill Kenwright, who has nursed the venture with Barry for some 30 years, brought the show to Attenborough and will move it if reviews and business warrant.

So, are we to expect "Blood Brothers, Part 2"?

Attenborough smiles. "I warned Bill I'm going to do a very hard-nosed production of a bleak, tough, cruel novel. This will be stripped-back, very poor theater" -- though its cast of 18, budgeted for a band of eight, makes "Brighton Rock" the priciest Almeida venture yet."

10 May: There is an article in the Sunday Times (May 9) by Matt Wolf, London theatre critic for Variety, who has been speaking to Almeida director, Michael Attenborough:

"So what do you do for an encore? The Almeida's (and Attenborough's) first-ever musical, for starters, which kicks off his second season in September. The choice of title - Brighton Rock, scored by John Barry, to book and lyrics by Giles Havergal and Don Black - isn't exactly an un- familiar one in the Attenborough household. Michael's Oscar-winning father, Richard, starred as the psychotic Pinkie in the 1947 film, and before that in a separate stage version."

10 April: Award-winning theatre sound designer John A. Leonard has been engaged to design the sound for the forthcoming John Barry / Don Black musical, 'Brighton Rock'.

08 February: An informed source set out the likely dates for the Brighton Rock schedule:

  • Rehearsals: July
  • Fit up: late August
  • First Preview: early September
  • Press: early September
  • Opening: mid September

06 February: A change on the Alan Brodie website. It now says:

BRIGHTON ROCK (Musical) Graham Greene/ Giles Havergal (book), Bill Kenwright Ltd, Almeida Theatre, Autumn.

15 January: Mrs. Barry, speaking recently, said they are all very excited about Brighton Rock which is expected to open late in 2004.


21 October 2003: A very well informed source informed Dave of the John Barry Yahoo group recently: "Brighton Rock is now on the fast track and we hope to open the show next autumn." Thank you Dave, and your source!

06 October 2003: We received news a few weeks ago, saying that "the music had not been completely written and that the show would not be produced within the next twelve months!" So, that would make it October 2004 at the earliest.

Please, don't read too much into this. Musicals take time to develop - Billy took almost 3 years before it was ready. My reading of this is that Barry & Black will continue to polish the songs whilst the producer and director sort out casting and funding, which is also all important.

I'm not surprised it might be another year before it hits the boards and have more faith in this going ahead than I do with any of JB's film projects!

24 July: Brigton Rock is likely to open next year at the Almeida Theatre, Islington, London, where Michael Attenborough (son of Richard) is artistic director. It is hoped that it will eventually transfer to the West End of London and then to Broadway.

29 June 2003: Brighton Rock may replace Blood Brothers

At the launch yesterday of his new biography Wrestling with Elephants, lyricist Don Black revealed more details of the upcoming stage adaptation of Brighton Rock.

Based on Graham Greene's 1938 novel about gang warfare at the English seaside, the musical will have a book by Giles Havergal (who's previously adapted Greene's Travels with My Aunt), with lyrics by Black and music by John Barry.

Speaking yesterday at the Gielgud Theatre, Black described the show as "hell, damnation and Catholic guilt". The stage production will be directed by Michael Attenborough, the Almeida Theatre artistic director and the son of Richard Attenborough, who played outlaw-protagonist Pinkie in the classic 1947 film.

Brighton Rock will be produced by Bill Kenwright and is due to open in the West End in 2004. It may find a home at the Phoenix Theatre, replacing Willy Russell's Blood Brothers, another Kenwright production which, celebrating its 15th birthday this August, may have nearly run its course in the West End.

20 June 2003: The Evening Standard newspaper of June 19 had an interview with Don Black. [page no longer exists] "Brighton Rock" is also mentioned. (JPG format, 260 kB, 1002x1298 pixels).

15 June 2003: Speaking on Michael Parkinson's radio programme Parkinson's Sunday Supplement on BBC Radio2, Sunday the 15th June [page no longer exists], Don Black confirmed that he and John Barry are working together on a stage musical version of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, with Bill Kenwright producing [BR page no longer exists].

The aim is to launch the musical next year, 2004. He said Barry had called it "the first nightmare musical"!! They are very excited about it.

31 August 2002: Brighton Rock is on course for Autumn 2003! But see also:[page no longer exists], which gives no dates.

source: The Daily TelegraphBrighton Rock

More than 35 years ago, John Barry first began work on a stage musical version of Graham Greene’s ‘Brighton Rock’.  His collaborators included the author himself, Wolf Mankowitz and Joseph Losey – who John wanted to direct.  He wrote several songs and Greene provided some lyrics of a kind, but in the end it was never staged.  A few years later John said it had proved too difficult in having a villain as the central character.

However, news is filtering through of another attempt which appears on a much firmer footing.  For a start, they have a powerful producer, theatre-owning impresario Bill Kenwright, who by coincidence was in the cast of John’s first musical, Passion Flower Hotel.   Don Black is once more ensconced as John’s lyricist – they have written arguably the best of John’s songs together.  And they even have a try-out opening date in mind – Autumn 2002.  To date John has written at least half-a-dozen songs and assuming they meet with the approval of the producer, Don Black will start writing the lyrics.

Staging musicals in the UK is a difficult business with very few succeeding financially.  So it is essential the casting and director is just right. 

To play the part of ‘Pinkie’, the central character, it might be shrewd business to cast a well-known pop-star or young actor.  Robbie Williams, anybody?  Well, he plainly thinks he *is* hard enough!!!

31 August: Brighton Rock is on course for Autumn 2003!

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