The Woman in White is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and David Zippel with a book by Charlotte Jones, based on the novel The Woman in White written by Wilkie Collins.
Musical Production History
Musical adaptation of the book opened in London's West End, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by David Zippel, and book by Charlotte Jones, freely adapted from the novel. Directed by Trevor Nunn, it opened Wednesday, 15 September 2004 at the Palace Theatre in London. It gained attention for its set design, which employed projections rather than traditional scenery. The scenery tended to divide audiences and critics; some found it innovative, but Ben Brantley of The New York Times likened it to being "trapped inside a floating upscale travel magazine." The Broadway production opened on 17th November 2005 at the Marquis Theatre to mostly negative critical reaction. This followed much publicity after the show's star, Maria Friedman, who had created the role of Marian Halcombe in the original London production, was diagnosed with breast cancer during previews; however, she underwent treatment to return for the Broadway premiere.
On Friday 20 January 2006, it was officially announced by producer Sonia Friedman and The Really Useful Theatre Company, following weeks of rumours, that the show would close in London on Saturday 25th February 2006 after a run of 19 months just reaching its 500th performance. It will be replaced at the Palace Theatre, London by Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind for a short and selective period of time from the 15th March to the 12th August 2006 and then the theatre will reopen on the 2nd October with the production of Monty Python's Spamalot
However, it is not the end; The Woman In White will undertake a one-year major national UK tour, which will be opening January 2007 in Milton Keynes. Furthermore, there are even plans to bring the show back to London in a reconcieved production, either before or after the national tour.
A railway cutting near Limmeridge, Cumberland, June 1870
ACT I--Limmeridge, Cumberland
Blackwater House, Hampshire
ACT II--Blackwater House, Hampshire
Back To Limmeridge
On a midnight trip on the way to Limmeridge House as a drawing teacher, Walter Hartright stumbles across a strange woman dressed entirely in white, apparently escaping from someone and urgent to share a terrible secret with him. The next day, he meets his new students: Marian Halcombe and her pretty half-sister Laura Fairlie, the heiress of Limmeridge House. He tells them about his encounter, and they resolve to solve the mystery. Later, he meets up with the woman in white, who is actually named Anne Catherick, in a graveyard, and she reveals the name of her tormentor: Sir Percival Glyde.
Walter and Laura quickly fall in love. Marian, also secretly in love with Walter, informs Walter of Laura's arranged engagement with Sir Percival Glyde and tells him that his relationship with Laura must end. He receives the news angrily and leaves for London. Marian somewhat regrets sending him away, for she secretly loves him as well as Laura.
Before Hartright's departure, Sir Percival Glyde and his friend Count Fosco arrive at Limmeridge to move the wedding date over to Christmas. When questioned by Walter about Anne Catherick, Glyde tells him that Anne Catherick is mad. He mentions that he tried to help her, and she thinks him as her enemy and not her friend. Laura is reluctant to marry Glyde, but Marian encourages her to honor her father's dying wish.
Once Laura and Glyde are married, Marian moves into Blackwater House, Glyde's estate. Laura becomes angry and distrustful of Marian, when her advice led her to marry a man whom she discovers to want nothing more than her money to pay off his debt. In the song "All For Laura," Marian is determined to free Laura from this ill-fated marriage.
The next day, Glyde presents Laura with a document to sign. He will not tell her the contents of the document. Laura is immediately suspicious, and refuses to sign something she knows nothing about. Glyde is furious, but he can't force her to sign the document. More suspicions rise. After the girls witness Glyde sending a completely innocent woman (Anne Catherick) back to the Asylum, they are completely convinced that Glyde and his flamboyant Italian friend are villains.
Later on in the evening, Marian goes off to the library to eavesdrop on Sir Percival and Count Fosco. She overhears their evil plans to steal the Limmeridge Estate. She also overhears their plans for Anne Catherick, but Count Fosco figures out that he's being watched before he reveals anything important about the madwoman. He leaves the library to put Marian to bed.
Not long after that, Marian is woken up by Count Fosco, who tells her that Laura was walking in her sleep and fell out the window. Marian is quite shaken by the tragic news. She vows to avenge her sister's death and punish whom she believes to be the murderers. Count Fosco, who is quite infatuated with Marian, heads off to his London home, and gives her his address in case she needs anything.
Marian goes to London in search of Walter Hartright. She discovers him as a penniless painter living in a rundown old home. At first, he is very angry with her for sending him away, but when Marian gives him the dreadful news, he joins Marian in her quest to learn the Secret of Anne Catherick and avenge Laura's death. In the showstopping number "Evermore Without You," Walter expresses his grief at having the love of his life dead. Marian believes that Anne's location is in the document that Laura once refused to sign.
They both go to Count Fosco's home to retrieve the document. Count Fosco attempts to seduce Marian; she willingly plays along. She sends him to the bathroom to shave as a diversion, and then she finds the document. When Count Fosco comes back, she has figured out the location of Anne's asylum. Count Fosco offers to bring her with him to the Continent to live life to the fullest, but Marian declines his request.
Marian and Walter go to the asylum to talk the Secret out of Anne Catherick. However, when they arrive at Anne's cell, they find not Anne, but Laura! Laura explains the conspiracy: Sir Percival Glyde put Laura in Anne's place at the asylum, killed Anne and buried her in Laura's grave. In desperation, the threesome head to Limmeridge House to try to get the Secret out of Mr. Fairlie, who knows more about Anne Catherick than he says he does.
Meanwhile, Sir Percival Glyde has convinced Mr. Fairlie to give the Limmeridge Estate to him because he was married to Laura. Mr. Fairlie signs the document and Glyde goes off to catch a train.
Marian, Laura and Walter arrive at Limmeridge House right after Glyde has left for the train. Mr. Fairlie admits that he doesn't know her Secret, but he does reveal that Anne Catherick is in fact Laura's half-sister, and they looked identical. Marian tells him of the conspiracy, but Mr. Fairlie sadly tells her that he already signed the document. The three run to the train to stop Glyde from getting away.
Walter and Laura are happily married, Walter inherits Limmeridge House, and Marian is left onstage heartbroken. However, to make the story more appealing, they changed the ending so that Marian goes with them and helps to take care of their children.
N.B.- The Original Broadway Cast was also the final Broadway cast, as the production ran for only just over 100 performances on Broadway, closing on 19 February 2006.
In the role of Marian Halcombe:
In the role of Count Fosco:
In the role of Anne Catherick:
In the role of Walter Hartright:
In the role of Laura Fairlie:
Awards and nominations
Olivier Award Nominations:
Tony Award Nominations: