Acorn Antiques: The Musical!

Acorn Antiques: The Musical! is a musical about an antiques dealer, based on the parodic soap opera of the same name by Victoria Wood. It premiered in the West End in 2005, and starred Julie Walters and Celia Imrie. The musical won the Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical and was nominated as Best New Musical.

Acorn Antiques: The Musical!
Acorn Antiques! – The Musical Poster
MusicVictoria Wood
LyricsVictoria Wood
BookVictoria Wood
BasisAcorn Antiques
Productions2005 West End
2007 UK tour
AwardsOlivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical

Concept and background

Victoria Wood decided to revive the original concept to satirise musical theatre with Acorn Antiques: The Musical!, with the intent to give people a "lovely, happy night in the theatre.".[1] It was directed by Trevor Nunn, and opened at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in February 2005 for a three-month sell-out run.[2] Parodying successful musicals such as Les Misérables and Chicago, it also caricatured the trend for socio-realism in contemporary drama and the conventions of song and choreography in musicals. It featured three of the principal actors from the original reprising their roles (or, strictly, the parts of the fictional actors from the spoof documentary); Duncan Preston returned as Clifford as did Celia Imrie as Babs and Julie Walters as Mrs Overall. Victoria Wood alternated with Walters in that role, and her character Miss Berta was played by Sally Ann Triplett. The musical also introduced Miss Bonnie (Josie Lawrence), a sister of Miss Babs and Miss Berta (in the original series, Berta and Babs were cousins).


The plot revolves around the original (fictional) actors reprising their roles from stage; however, contrary to their wishes, the experimental director adapts it into a gritty commentary on British suburban life, despite the fact that the cast (led by Bo Beaumont (Julie Walters)) want to just have a fun piece with a good tap number. After a disastrous open dress rehearsal, the cast hijack the concept to return it to its original roots, and take it to the West End, funded by Bo Beaumont's lottery win.

The second act is the musical within the musical, and is much more like the original series. Miss Babs (Celia Imrie) and Miss Berta (Sally Ann Triplett) run "Acorn Antiques", and are aided and amused by their friends and cleaner: Mrs Overall (Walters) and Mr Clifford (Duncan Preston). Soon, they discover a third sister, Bonnie (Josie Lawrence) who is initially scheming and devious (for instance, she fires Mrs Overall, even after finding out she's her mother). The plot unfolds, the sisters are faced with financial woes, and family secrets. The show ends with the triumphant return of Mrs Overall, a windfall, and the union of Miss Bertha and Mr Clifford.


The musical received mixed reviews. Mark Shenton of the BBC criticised the show for extending a sketch into a three-hour-long musical, but mentioned that Julie Walters was "inimitable" and to see her "shuffling onto the stage as the perpetually stooped and crumpled Mrs Overall – tea tray in hand with macaroons at the ready – is enough to induce guffaws of recognition."[3] Like Shenton, Philip Fisher of The British Theatre Guide lamented the record-breaking high levels of ticket price (up to £65), but lauded the performances and enthusiasm of the project.[4] A teletext review voiced the opinion that the plot lacked depth, and that it wasn't a great theatrical performance.[5] The Stage said that it would have been better if Victoria Wood had drafted in aid with the musical, and also stated that it really starts at the beginning of the second act (see Revival), but that it contained "enough entertainment and wit to keep the faithful happy", and said that "the second half begins, to the palpable delight of the audience, with the show they have come to see – with missed cues, fluffed lines and preposterous plots gloriously intact".[6] However, it played to full houses, and was nominated for Best New Musical, Best Actress in a Musical (Julie Walters) and Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical (Celia Imrie) at the Laurence Olivier Awards, and won Best Supporting Actress.[7] The original series and the musical were released on DVD in the UK in January 2005 and March 2006 respectively.[8]

A routine from the show closed the 2005 BAFTA tribute to Victoria Wood; however, in 2007 she said that creating the musical was a "bad idea" as it harmed her credentials as a serious playwright.[9]


The DVD (a filmed version of a performance in 2005 with the original cast) was released in 2006. Special features include featurettes which showed Victoria Wood playing the role of Mrs Overall on the nights that Julie Walters did not appear.


In early 2006 it was announced that the musical would be revived and tour around the UK during the Winter season. It was revealed that Victoria Wood (the author) would direct the touring production and an all-new cast will be put together. Mrs Overall will be played by Ria Jones. The touring version essentially omits the London show's first act (in which the players struggle against their director's pessimistic social commentary), interpolating some of the main musical numbers which had featured there into a significantly expanded second act (the "straight" musical of Acorn Antiques).[10] The tour version of the show has received fairly positive reviews, with the BBC calling it "a lot of fun".[11]

In 2010 Phil McIntyre Entertainments gave permission for the first amateur production of the musical to be performed by non-professional actors in the UK.

Original West End Cast and Crew

Source: Official Website, DVD Credits and Program


  • Jenna Boyd – Hatcheck Girl/Mimi
  • Gareth Bryn – Steve/Hugh R Kettlewell
  • Lorraine Chappell – Suzy/Papergirl/Young Mrs Overall/Evelyn
  • Danielle Coombe – Sally/Miss Wellbelove/Debra
  • Paul Grunert – Vic/Mr Watkins
  • Shaun Henson – Ginger/Shopkeeper
  • Celia Imrie – Miss Babs
  • Josie Lawrence – Donna/Bonnie
  • Sydney Livingstone – Ken/Mr Minchin
  • Jill Martin – Lynne/Christine
  • Neil Morrissey – John/Tony
  • Hilary O'Neil – Mavis/Bev
  • Duncan Preston – Mr. Clifford
  • Carl Sanderson – Brian/Mr Furlong
  • Myra Sands – Barbara/Miss Willoughby
  • David Shaw Parker – Tom/Robert Stillman/Derek
  • Nicola Sloane – Pip/Miss Cuff
  • John Stacey – Alan/Postman
  • Sally Ann Triplett – Miss Berta (portrayed by Victoria Wood in the original sketches)
  • Julie Walters – Bo Beaumont/Mrs Overall
  • Victoria Wood – Bo Beaumont/Mrs Overall


  • Set Design – Lez Brotherston
  • Costume Design – Stephen Brimson Lewis
  • Lighting Design – Alistair Grant
  • Sound Design – Paul Groothuis
  • Orchestrator – Chris Walker
  • Casting Director – Pippa Ailion
  • Music Supervisor and Dance Arrangements – Gareth Valentine
  • Choreographer – Stephen Mear
  • Book, Music & Lyrics – Victoria Wood
  • Director – Trevor Nunn

Song List (London)

Because no official soundtrack has ever been released, neither has an official song list. Therefore, all tracks are included in order, but the name of the tracks themselves are disputable, and have been written down by careful inspection of the show on the DVD.

Song List (Revival)

Awards and nominations

DVD release

Acorn Antiques: The Musical was released on DVD on 13 March, 2006.[13]


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