The story of Bette and Joan comes to Rugby Theatre

Kathy Evans (left) as Bette and Ruth MacCallum as Joan
Kathy Evans (left) as Bette and Ruth MacCallum as Joan

The story of two of Hollywood’s greatest actresses and their personal feud is the subject of the next production at Rugby Theatre.

Once grande dames of the movie world, by 1962 arch-rivals Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were in danger of becoming has-beens. Then an opportunity came along to appear together in a new movie called Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?.

Bette & Joan shows the two stars, in adjacent dressing rooms, between takes on the set of the film.

While Joan manages her anxiety by lacing her Pepsi with vodka and signing photographs for her beloved fans, Bette chain smokes and muses on her love life, and her ability to pick a decent script, never a decent man.

And two of Rugby’s most accomplished actresses have been brought together to play the lead roles – Ruth MacCallum as Joan Crawford and Kathy Evans as Bette Davis.

Behind the bitching and the practical jokes we see each woman’s insecurities and regrets, and their rivalry is revealed to be underpinned by grudging respect as they attempt to identify their new roles in life as well as in their careers.

Director Margaret Dulcamara said: “Anton Burge’s play is wickedly funny, dramatic and poignant.

“It also gives two of Rugby’s most talented actresses two juicy parts into which to sink their teeth.

“Joan is a control-freak with an unhealthy obsession with coat-hangers who confesses that whenever she dispenses with a husband she changes the lock and the lavatory seat but keeps the departed spouse in her heart.

“Bette Davis’s tongue is pretty sharp too. She informs us that during her days at MGM Crawford slept with everyone on the lot except Lassie.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of what we have created so far – it’s going to be a wonderful show.”

The production opens for a seven-performance run on Saturday April 8. Call 01788 541234 or visit rugbytheatre.co.uk to book.