Music by John Barry, lyrics by Don Black, book by Dick Clement and Ian
based on Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London 1 May, 1974 (904 perfs)
Billy Fisher lives with Mum, Dad and Gran in Stradhoughton and is an undertaker's clerk - but in his mind he is President of Ambrosia, a film star, a scriptwriter - and anything else glamorous that happens to occur to him! However, nobody else believes him, certainly neither Barbara nor Rita, to both of whom he has promised marriage, though there is only one engagement ring! He frantically tries to lie his way out, so he can run away with Liz, the only girl who understands him, but we know he'll never quite make it. Available for the first time on general release, Biiiy has a strong, funny and tast-paced book, with outstanding songs such as "Ambrosia" and "Some Of Us Belong To The Stars".
Billy, a lower middle-class lad from the North East has big ideas of fame and fortune but has neither the intellect nor the courage to make anything of himself. His family and employer, an undertaker, have to suffer the consequences of his fantasies and habitual lying, things coming to a head when he becomes engaged to two girls at the same time. Barbara, his `official' fiancée, whom he tries unsuccessfully to seduce, comes to tea with the family and announces wedding plans, but unfortunately her visit coincides with both the death of Billy's grandmother and a visit from his other `fiancée' Rita. A fight ensues. Arthur, a friend, tells Billy that Rita's brother is after him, and Billy plans his escape to London to be a TV scriptwriter with Liz - yet another girlfriend. Mum and Dad have strong ideas about all this. Throughout the play, Billy finds refuge from his problems in vivid daydreams in which among others he becomes a doctor, a politician and a general.
Principals: 5 female, 4 male
- Billy Fisher - A Northern lad whose day-dreaming and constant fibbing causes
him endless problems
- Geoffrey Fisher - Billy's dad, a brusque man in his early 50s
who uses the word "bloody" so frequently thatit becomes
- Alice Fisher - Billy's long-suffering mum - a typical housewife
- Gran Fisher - Billy's Gran; an old lady in her 80s who talks constantly
to herself - and to the furniture
- Arthur Crabtree - Billy's best friend and fellow employee at Shadrack
and Duxbury's Funeral Parlour
- Shadrack - In his late 30s, but prematurely aged with the necessary
obsequiousness required for running a funeral parlour
- Stamp - An emplyee at Shadrack and Duxbury. An unpleasant and unattractive
youth and no friend of Billy or Arthur.
- Councillor Duxbury - An aged Town Councillor who nostalgically recalls
how much better it was in the old days
- Liz - Billy's girlfriend and the only person who really understands
- Barbara - Billy's "fiancéee", a simpering, orange-eating little homemaker.
- Rita - Billy's other "fiancée", the
person for whom the word
"common" was invented - a monstrous concoction of plastered
make-up, high heels and bad language.
- Mrs Crabtree - Mother of Arthur and bearer of the brunt of some of BIlly's more inventive fibs.
Chorus members and extras:
Small boy, bandleader, ticket collector, Ambrosians, Shoppers, Funeral Bearers, Housewives, Football crowd, Dance Hallers
Reed I (flute, piccolo), Reed II (oboe, opt. cor anglais), Reed III (alto sax, clarinet), Reed IV (tenor sax, opt. bass clarinet), trumpet, cornet/flugel horn, horn, trombone, bass trombone, keyboard, drum kit and percussion, electric bass
Vocal Score and Vocal Book on hire only (Libretto on sale)
Ambrosia - Chorus
And - Alice, Geoffrey, Gran, Billy
Some Of Us Belong To The Stars - Billy
Happy To Be Ourselves - Billy, Arthur, Company
The Witch's Song - Barbara, Billy
Lies - Barbara, Billy
It Were All Green Hills - Duxbury
Aren't You Billy Fisher? - Billy, Comapny
My Heart Is Ready When YOu Are - Liz, Billy
Billy - Billy, Liz, Barbara, Rita
Remembering - Alice, Geoffrey
Any Minute Now - Rita, Barbara
The Lady From LA - Billy, Company
I Can Make A Difference - Liz, Billy
Why Can't I Feel Something? - Instrumental
I Missed the Last Rainbow - Billy