When Russ Abbot made his West End debut – 35 years ago in The Stage
May 10, 1984: Comedian Russ Abbot, then at the peak of his popularity thanks to his primetime television show Russ Abbot’s Madhouse – for which he had twice been voted the “funniest man on television in Britain” – was announced to be making his West End debut in the musical Little Me at the Prince of Wales Theatre.
He told The Stage: ”I felt Little Me was tailor-made and that I had to try something new, otherwise I would have been repeating the pattern over and over. If it does well, then a new future becomes possible. I feel I’m essentially a theatre man and I’m surprised to have got this far. It’s been a great career and if it all finished and I didn’t do anything else, I couldn’t complain. I’m learning all the time and I hope that after this entry into the legit theatre that there will be other things to try.
“It’s good to be in a musical. I’ve always enjoyed them when I’ve been in an audience and I don’t mind confessing that they can move me to cry and smile.”
The production went on to run for 334 performances. Since then, Abbot’s theatre roles have included Doctor Dolittle, Alfred P Doolittle in My Fair Lady and Fagin in Oliver!.
If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive
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