It’s been called the most important weather forecast of all time. In June 1944, over 150,000 Allied troops would land on five sites in France, in what would prove to be one of the most decisive actions of WWll. After months of meticulous planning, ‘Operation Overlord’ was set to go, but there was one crucial aspect which the military commanders couldn’t control: the weather.
It’s the focus of the wartime drama PRESSURE, written by Olivier Award winner David Haig. The play is set over a 72-hour period leading up to the launch of the operation. Chief meteorologist, Group Captain James Stagg, played by David is the weather adviser to the overall commander General Dwight Eisenhower. Despite a heatwave, Stagg calculates the weather will turn nasty at the time the invasion is scheduled, risking the lives of thousands. This is contrary to the prediction of American celebrity weatherman, Colonel Irving Krick. Stagg has to convince Eisenhower that he is right, delaying the operation by a week, waiting for the weather to improve.
After premiering at Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre in May 2014 to critical acclaim and transferring to the Chichester Festival Theatre at the end of the same month, the original production has now been revived at the West End’s Ambassador Theatre, coinciding with the 74th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The always affable David, signed my sketch last month at the Ambassadors stage door.
The Chichester Festival revival of the classic gambling musical GUYS AND DOLLS arrived in the West End via Manchester and Birmingham to the Savoy Theatre last December before it continues its journey uptown to the Phoenix. Along the way the Gordon Greenberg directed production has gathered great reviews and sell out crowds. The Guardian bylined its review with “outstanding leads (Sophie Thompson, Jamie Parker, David Haig and Siubhan Harrison) and fizzing choreography from Carlos Acosta.”
The production has been nominated for six Olivier Awards, including choreography and nods for Sophie, Jamie and David, who are not transferring to the Phoenix when it starts again on 19 March. I sent this sketch to the Savoy earlier in the run but for some reason it came back ‘return to sender’ ( I know, I feel a tune coming on… wrong musical) and unopened. So I did it the old fashioned way, in person at the stage door yesterday as the central quartet headed in for the matinee and they were all more than happy to graph it.
Alan’s Bennett’s play The Madness of George III premiered in November 1991 on the Lyttelton stage of the National Theatre in London, directed by Nicholas Hytner, with the late, great Nigel Hawthorne in the title role.
It’s the fictionalised biographical study of the latter half of the reign of George III. Critics labelled Nigel’s Olivier Award winning performance as “astonishing” and “unforgettable”. He also played the role in the 1994 film version, entitle The Madness of King George, also directed by Sir Nicholas H. I’ve always liked the film’s tagline: ‘His Majesty was all powerful and all knowing. But he wasn’t quite all there.’ It was nominated for 4 Oscars, including one for Nigel and 14 BAFTAS.
David Haig played the mental monarch in the revival of the play at The Apollo in the Spring of 2012. The Telegraph’s Charles Spencer compared David’s performance to Nigel’s saying, “it seemed an impossible act to follow, but David Haig proves every inch Hawthorne’s equal in a performance of extraordinary emotion, tenderness and humour”. David was nominated for an Olivier Award.