Production History

1983 West End
2006 Revised London Production
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Music by Stephen Oliver

"Who said this piece wasn't educational?"

The Monks, from Blondel

© Dewynters.

Come Back Richard

Tim Rice first envisioned the idea for a show about the Crusades in the early days of his partnership with Andrew Lloyd Webber. Andrew and Tim had done some work on it, entitling the project Come Back Richard Your Country Needs You. It was performed as an oratorio at the City of London School in 1969 directed by Alan Doggett. Also in 1969 a single of the title song was recorded with Tim as lead vocalist and backed with the unrelated "Roll On Over The Atlantic". After this, however, the idea for a musical about the Crusades sank back into obscurity.

Tim Rice first met Stephen Oliver, who had composed for the opera and the RSC, when they both served on a panel at the Sydney Arts Festival in 1977. In 1982 they began collaboration to bring the idea of a musical about King Richard into a reality. Now titled Blondel, the show centered around Richard's minstrel, Blondel, who embarks on a quest to find his missing king . . . while at the same time trying to make it big as a pop singer and songwriter.
© Dewynters.

Blondel Staged

Blondel starred Paul Nicholas as Blondel, Sharon Lee-Hill as Blondel's girlfriend Fiona, Stephan Tate as Richard, David Burt as John, and Chris Langham as the Assassin. It opened in Bath on 12 September 1983. After a two week stop in Manchester, it was the first show in the refurbished Old Vic opening on 2 November and played for 11 months. Blondel then moved to the West End's Aldwych Theatre; a move that was too costly, causing the production to fold after eight months.

Blondel's first American performances were at The University Of Texas at El Paso's The Union Dinner Theatre 11 April 1985 and at a high school in Long Island in early 1986 -- both attended by Tim Rice (who was working on Chess at the time). It has since had many international performances. In addition to being put on by amateur groups, the show has been a favourite of schools.

The London cast recording of Blondel was first released on CD in 1996.

Revised London Production

In the Spring of 2005, Tim Rice was approached by director Patrick Wilde about reviving Blondel, possibly for the Edinburgh Festival. Patrick Wilde was no stranger to Blondel, having previously staged the show in 1987 with the LOST Youth Company in Fulham. That production had been attended by both Tim and Stephen Oliver. Both director and lyricist were eager to revise Blondel for a new staging.
Sir Tim Rice & Pleasance Theatre Cast © 2006 Pete Shaw.

By June 2006, the pair had decided to stage the revised version of the show at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington, North London, that winter. During the summer of 2006, Tim Rice revised the original script, largely while on a working holiday in Italy that August. Using the show's existing music, the plot was streamlined with new lyrics and minor book changes. The romance between Fiona and Blondel was one of the areas to receive attention, with the relationship between them being softened.

The casting for the Islington production was announced on 11 October 2006. Abi Finley, a finalist from How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, was cast as Fiona. The title role of Blondel went to Chris Grierson, already known to Hollyoaks viewers for his portrayal of Chris Fenwick. The cast also included Matt Harrop as Prince John, Napoleon Ryan as the Assassin, and Mark Inscoe as King Richard.

In addition to director Patrick Wilde, the creative team included set designer Jason Denvir, lighting designer James Hamilton and costume designer Tracy Walle. The musical direction and new arrangements were by Matthew Pritchard and musical staging was by Stewart Nicholls.

The limited engagement run of Blondel was produced by Peter Shaw, and presented by Sir Tim Rice in association with The Wild Justice Company. Previews began 21 November 2006. Blondel opened on 23 November 2006 and played its last performance on 31 December 2006.


Blondel received a make-over in 2012 when Greg Taylor, who had staged the first American production of the show, helmed the premiere of Lute! at the University of Texas at Old El Paso Dinner Theatre.

The book for Lute! was penned by Tim Rice, who further adapted the one from the 2006 Pleasance Theatre production for the revised show. Mathew Pritchard, who was the musical director / arranger for the Pleasance Theatre staging, was called on to supply additional music for the new scenes which would blend seamlessly with the exisitng scrore. He also servered as the arranger and orchestrater for Lute!.

The creative team for the production included Greg Tayor as director, choreography by Lisa Lopez, costumes by Jaime Barba, sets and lighting by Mike Spence and musical direction by Patricia Ann Provencio.

C  A  S  T      O  F       L  U  T  E  !
Ricardo Parra - Blondel
Betsy Tinajero - Fiona
Greg Taylor - Prince John
Troy Taylor - King Richard
Jorge Ollivier - The Assassin
Ivan Cano - Duke of Austria
Antonio Motta - Arch Bishop
Eli Ramirez - Baron Reg
Cesar Sanchez - Robin Hood
Estella Levy - Fra. Schwartzenberger

Alex Cervantes
Tanisha Lewis
John Guevara
Sylvia Prieto
Taelon Stonecipher
Davida Washer
Allen Thompson

Andrea Acosta
Estella Levy
Jimmy Lupercio
Antonio Motta
Vanessa Ojeda
Hector Piper
Eli Ramirez
Cesar Sanchez
Euridice Saucedo
Chloe Schafer
Stephanie Torres

Lute! will be staged from 27 January - 12 February 2012 at the University Of Texas At El Paso Dinner Theatre.

Blondel & The Blondette's European Tour © 2004 JJB.

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