Everything you need to know about All About Eve
Based on the 1950 film, All About Eve made its West End premiere at the Noël Coward Theatre for a 14 week run from 2nd February 2019. The movie has been adapted for the stage by Ivo van Hove, who will also direct the production starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James. A smash hit at the box office, what happened in the stage adaptation?
All About Eve closed in the West End on 11th May 2019
What is All About Eve?
All About Eve starred Bette Davis as Margo Channing and Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington. Directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz, the film centres around Margo and Eve’s developing relationship both on and off stage. Capturing the general public’s obsession with showbusiness, All About Eve seeks to answer why our love for fame and fortune will always remain, especially in a world rife with envy of those who are successful. A classic from Hollywood’s golden age, the movie received an array of awards in the early 1950’s, including the special jury prize at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival. The film’s success is down to capturing the essence of the ageing actress and the growing obsession with showbusiness.
What’s the plot of All About Eve?
Turning 40 sends shudders down famous Broadway actress, Margo Channing’s spine. She worries over how she will look in old age and whether she will continue to be a star. After a performance, Margo meets Eve Harrington, an obsessed fan who will do anything Margo requests. Hiring Eve as her assistant, Margo is catered to her every need. But when Eve is later cast as Margo’s understudy, Eve cunningly invites theatre critics to her performances behind Margo’s back, launching a career that starts her own journey to Hollywood.
Is it based on a true story?
The story is based on a case in the 1940’s where actress Elisabeth Bergner hired as a young fan as her assistant who then tried to steal Bergner’s career. This story was then turned into “The Wisdom of Eve”, a short story published by Mary Orr in a 1946 issue of Cosmopolitan.
When researching for the film, the All About Eve film director Joseph L. Mankiewicz stumbled across “The Wisdom of Eve” and felt the slyness of the assistant would work perfectly. Producer Darryl F. Zanuck then purchased the rights to the story and the film could then start production. Orr received no onscreen credit in the movie.
Who starred in All About Eve?
Gillian Anderson is cast as Margo Channing. Recent credits include Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Young Vic, reprising the role at St Ann’s Warehouse in New York. Anderson was nominated for the best actress award at the 2015 Oliviers for this performance. She has televisions credits on the X Files and Great Expectations.
Lily James will play Eve Harington. Most recently, James played Young Donna in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. She had her film breakthrough when she starred as the title role in Cinderella in 2015, later appearing in the films Darkest Hour and Baby Driver. On television, James played Lady Rose MacClare in Downton Abbey and Countess Natasha Rostova in War and Peace. Her last stage performance was in 2016, when she played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick Theatre, opposite Richard Madden.
Playing Margo’s close friend Karen is BAFTA award winner Monica Dolan, whose latest performing credits include W1A and Vanity Fair, as well as bringing her first play The B*easts to the Bush Theatre in 2017. Sheila Reid will play Margo’s maid Birdie. Reid has starred in a number of National Theatre productions, receiving an Olivier Award nomination for When I Was A Girl I Used To Scream. Most people recognise Reid for her role as Madge Harvey in ITV’s Benidorm from 2007 to 2016. Rhashan Stone takes on the role of Lloyd after performing in many productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as appearing in Southwark Fair and Sweeney Todd at the National Theatre. Stone also appears in episodes of Killing Eve for BBC America.
The stage version of All About Eve is an adaptation and under the direction of Ivo van Hove. In London, he directed the David Bowie musical Lazarus, as well as an adaptation of the film Network, which starred Bryan Cranston. He also directed the Olivier Award-winning production of A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic and the Wyndham Theatre before it then transferred to Broadway. On Broadway, this production won best revival and he won best director at the 2016 Tony Awards. He also directed a revival of The Crucible, which ran against A View from the Bridge for best revival at the same award ceremony.
Music is provided by two time Mercury Prize album of the year winner PJ Harvey. Harvey has released nine studio albums with her discography including hits such as “Down by the Water” and “This is Love”. Her catalogue of rock albums led to her being awarded an outstanding contribution to music honour by NME.
Further casting is to be announced.
All About Eve facts and figures
All About Eve was the first film where two actresses from the same film were nominated for the best actress award at an Oscar ceremony. Even though Anne Baxter and Bette Davis were up for the award, Judy Holliday won for her performance in Born Yesterday.
All About Evereceived 14 Oscar nominations and won 6. It beat the previous record of 13 set by Gone With the Wind.
In 1990, All About Eve was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being historically significant. It joined a group of films including Titanic, Pulp Fiction and Blade Runner.
The movie was a filming breakthrough for Marilyn Monroe, featuring her in one of her earliest roles.
What did film critics say about the storyline?
“All About Eve has substance in virtually every dramatic and romantic mood”
Abel Green, Variety Magazine
“Joseph L Mankiewicz’s film dissects the narcissism and hypocrisy of the spotlight as sharply as Wilder’s, but pays equal attention to the challenges of enacting womanhood”
Ben Walters, Time Out
Photo credit: Perou