London date for Rosenthal's Barmitzvah Boy play

By Jennifer Lipman, February 18, 2011
Jack Rosenthal with Maureen Lipman

Jack Rosenthal with Maureen Lipman

Jack Rosenthal’s play about making the Barmitzvah Boy musical, Smash! is to be shown on a London stage for the first time.

The Bafta-award winning playwright, who died of cancer in 2004, wrote the comedy Smash! after struggling to turn his hit television drama into a musical.

The tale of a Jewish boy’s apprehension about the ceremony made it to the stage in 1978, two years after it appeared on the BBC.

But the production was fraught with difficulties and the show was considered a flop by many, prompting Mr Rosenthal to write a witty expose of the inner workings of the theatre industry.

Smash! premièred in Warwick in 1981 with Mr Rosenthal’s wife, actress Maureen Lipman, in the lead role.

Before it opened Mr Rosenthal told the JC: “I have written a play about the adventures of a group of people trying to mount a musical in England. But it’s more than that…it is also about reality, deception, self-deception and make believe.”

He said he had drawn on his experiences when he wrote it, but added: “It is not a factual history.”

The new production, in the Menier Chocolate Factory from March 24, will star Tom Conti.

As well as Barmitzvah Boy, Mr Rosenthal’s work included the Barbra Streisand film Yentl and many early scripts for Coronation Street.

He was awarded a CBE in 1994 for services to drama.

Last updated: 12:25pm, February 18 2011