Bette & Joan – The Final Curtain: Audition Preview

I first saw this show at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2011, and again at the St James’ theatre in Victoria in early 2015. I absolutely loved its wit, humour and staging. Co-created by Sarah Thom and Sarah Toogood (who played all four parts) and their director James Greaves through Foursight Theatre, the play is not yet published, but it’s an imaginative show with a script full of snappy dialogue and some great jokes.

Not to be confused with Jess Osorio’s fine production of Anton Burge’s play of a similar name at SLT last year, the Final Curtain still focuses on the grand dames of Hollywood, but in a very different scenario and contrasting staging.

It’s 1989 and Bette Davis (“old age is no place for sissies”) having suffered several strokes and cancer, is dying. The news travels to Hollywood Heaven, where together with the infamous showbiz/gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, Joan Crawford has taken up residence some years before.

Hedda and Louella send Joan back to bring Bette up safe – but Bette being Bette, of course does not want to go, and their notorious feud is re-ignited as they discuss their lives and times while Joan tries desperately to fulfil her mission.

The play’s main focus is the interchange between Bette and Joan, but Hedda and Louella make frequent appearances on film “beaming down” from Hollywood Heaven to encourage Bette’s ascent.

Because of the substantial filming element involved in this production, I’m auditioning early to enable us to rehearse and produce the film content in late July and early August before rehearsals proper for the play itself begin on Sunday, August 20. For anyone interested, I’ll explain more at the audition (or do email me), but it does mean that the actors cast for Hedda and Louella need to be available in July and part of August, though not for the play itself, October 10-14.

I’ll be looking for 4 actors “of a certain age” for this show, who can do decent American accents. Bette and Joan need to be female, but I’m open to cross-gender casting for Hedda and Louella, characters who are obviously women, but essentially comic devices appearing only on film – so men who can scrub up well as middle-aged women are very welcome to audition!

Auditions will be held at Stanley Halls on Sunday, June 4 at 3.30pm and Monday, June 12 at 8pm. Audition pieces will be available when the auditions are formally announced, so keep an eye on the notices posted to our auditions page here.

– Cal Beckett, Director