Book by KEITH WATERHOUSE & WILLIS HALL
Adapted from the novel by Arnold Bennett
Music by TONY HATCH
Lyrics by ANTHONY DREWE
Original Lyrics by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent
"...The show contains showstopper after showstopper,
this lilting, lyrical score soars over any dramatic obstacles.
This period piece which stunningly reasserts the supremacy of the small-scale, book-based musical which replaces special effects with the human heart and spirit in triumph over the odds..."
Like all the great fairytales, from Cinderella to My Fair Lady, The Card is about someone going to a ball, in this case it is Denry Machin, the local boy making good who is the Card of the title of Arnold Bennett's original and classic novel.
What we have now is one of the most joyous musicals of regional British life since Half a Sixpence.
The shows have a good deal in common, both come from bestselling authors of the early century (Bennett and HG Wells), both afford a likely-lad hero surviving a rigid class oppression to turn the tables on their Victorian elders and betters.
Denry is a lovable kind of pioneer yuppie, his morals may be a little shaky, his methods a little suspect, but precisely because he is in there fighting for a future among people who live only in the past, precisely because he is about to overturn a century of snobbery-with-violence, we side with him anyway.
And of course he's been around a bit, way back in 1949 The Card as a film confirmed the wayward understated comics genius as this Everyman. Almost 40 years ago the very first version of this musical established the West End stardom of Jim Dale, Millicent Martin and Marti Webb.
What this film version did not have was box office success, despite some glowing reviews (and some that glowed a little less brightly). But one of the definitions of a great producer is that he stays with a project he believes in long after most others involved have moved on to other shows and other scores. This is the case with Cameron Mackintosh and The Card. He commissioned a whole new set of lyrics from Antony Drewe, had the original Tony Hatch / Jackie Trent score drastically revised, and persuaded the original book-of-the-book writers (Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall) to rethink their contribution.