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BLOG: Bette & Joan - By Lisa Wakely

Bette & Joan Blog Post by Lisa Wakley - Frinton Summer Theatre

The McGrigor Hall hosts a smash-hit tale of superstar revenge and rivalry in

Frinton Summer Theatre’s production of Bette and Joan

A piece of Hollywood is coming to Frinton as BAFTA-nominated actress Greta Scacchi revives her role as Bette Davis in Anton Burge’s sizzling catfight of a play Bette and Joan.

Appearing at McGrigor Hall in Frinton from 8th to 12th August, Bette and Joan is one of six performances making up The McGrigor Hall season as part of the Frinton Summer Theatre Festival of the Arts.

The incredible story of two Grand Dames of Hollywood and their intense rivalry was made famous by the 2017 mini-series, Feud: Bette & Joan. Since childhood, Ryan Murphy, a fan of Davis, interviewed the actress just months before her death in 1989. The agreed 20-minute interview lasted four hours, inspiring his characterisation of Davis in Feud. He said, “When I would ask her about Joan Crawford…she would just go on about how much she hated her. But then she would say, ‘She was a professional,’ and I admired that.”

In 1962, a relatively low-budget psychological thriller was released in the United States starring two well-known actresses who needed a career boost, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. The movie, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, was critically acclaimed, became an enormous hit at the box office and is still considered a cult classic.

Despite this success, it wasn’t the most relaxed of shoots. The well-known rivalry between these two iconic actresses spilt over onto the set, and each day was filled with problems exacerbated by their dislike of each other. It was fuelled by an industry that loved nothing more than to see its women tear each other apart. Much of their fighting played out as back-and-forth sniping with the papers, though Crawford was always less openly hostile than Davis, whose iconic burns include the classic “Crawford slept with every male star at MGM – except Lassie.” The first public conflict incident between the pair came out as Crawford upstaging Davis, in what would become a frequent theme.

Anton Burge has turned this clash of Hollywood egos into a wonderful, witty, wise-cracking and comically acerbic exploration of the lives and loves of these two extraordinary actors.

Set in individual dressing rooms, the play charts the machinations and sometimes ludicrous lengths both Bette and Joan were prepared to go to in order to undermine each other. Expect an evening of bittersweet comedy with dazzling one-liners as these two cinema titans let rip.

Frinton Summer Theatre’s artistic director, Clive Brill, said: “We are delighted to welcome Greta Scacchi to Frinton Summer Theatre to perform this iconic role of Bette Davis. Bette & Joan has much to offer theatre lovers, from intense rivalry to rapier wit, with a good dose of 1960s Hollywood glamour thrown in.

Bette & Joan, by Emma Filby at Frinton Summer Theatre

“This is sure to be a particular favourite of the Frinton Summer Theatre’s 2023 season, so it has never been more appropriate to say, book early to avoid disappointment.”

Bette & Joan

The McGrigor Hall, Frinton Summer Theatre - 8th - 12th August

Tues - Sat 7:30pm | Sat 2:30pm

Frinton Summer Theatre Contributor, Lisa Wakely, Writer. Lisa Wakely is a talented writer and performer from Essex. Her passion for writing and teaching performing arts is matched only by her adventurous spirit, which includes heart-pumping activities like skydiving and wing walking - all for raising money for charity. She's a true force to be reckoned with. Her boundless energy and unwavering determination are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

If you liked the sound of Bette & Joan, book Don't Dress for Dinner
Frinton Summer Theatre 2023

If you liked the sound of Bette and Joan, you might also be interested in our production of Don’t Dress for Dinner, a wildly funny sequel to the Broadway hit Boeing Boeing.

Bernard is planning a romantic weekend with his chic Parisian mistress in his charming converted French farmhouse whilst his wife, Jacqueline, is away.

Join us for this side-splitting farce. You won’t regret it! Tickets are on sale now!

The McGrigor Hall Ticket Prices

Evenings £20-25 | Matinees £18-23

Season Discount - Get 10% off when you book a ticket for each show at The McGrigor Hall.

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