Book by Shaun McKenna
Music and Lyrics by Charles Aznavour
English Lyrics by Dee Shipman
In 1998, the American producer Mike Merrick approached Shaun to write the Book for a musical about the celebrated painter, Henri Toulouse Lautrec. After extensive research, Shaun established that Suzanne Valadon - later a celebrated painter in her own right and mother of Maurice Utrillo - was one of Lautrec's models and had a sexual relationship with him. Using this as a factual basis for a fictional story, Lautrec explored the artist's addictive personality, his inability to form romantic relationships and his dysfunctional relationship with his profoundly eccentric parents - one a religious zealot, the other a libertine with a penchant for dressing up. Contemporary figures such as Aristide Bruant, La Goulue, Jane Avril and Footit also appeared.
The show opened to excellent reviews at Plymouth in April 2000 but was poorly received when it reached the Shaftesbury Theatre in London's West End later that year. It closed after seven weeks and a cast album was never recorded.
Lautrec was directed by Rob Bettinson, designed by Robert Jones, choreographed by Quinnie Sachs and had arrangements by Michael Starobin.
The cast was led by Sevan Stephan as Henri. Suzanne was played by Hannah Waddingham, who won two awards for her performance and has gone on to become a major West End star.