Preview periods are “completely vital” – director Sean Foley

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Director Sean Foley has claimed preview periods are “completely vital” for comedies that have West End runs.

The director, who has recently directed Stephen Mangan and Matthew Macfadyen in the Jeeves and Wooster play Perfect Nonsense at the Duke of York’s Theatre, was responding to claims from Tim Rice that preview periods should be reduced or cut completely.

Foley, who will next year direct The X Factor musical I Can’t Sing!, said he found previews “useful for putting a show together”.

“I would say, for a comedy, previews are completely vital. I always think you need about 20 shows [before opening] because it is so much to do with rhythm, confidence and finding the comedy in front of an audience. If you opened after three previews, it would not be the same show,” he said.

Foley added: “Our previews for Perfect Nonsense have been proper previews  - in the sense that it was not a semi-rehearsed thing thrown on stage. They have all been really good shows. But we have been genuinely working on the show every single day – adjusting things, cutting things, inventing new material, to try and give the audience the best evening out we can.”