The Witches of Eastwick
Playhouse, Edinburgh, Wed 10 Dec–Sat 3 Jan
The compelling formula of Desperate Housewives and Sex and the City can be traced to US writer John Updike’s 1984 novel, The Witches of Eastwick, in which three frustrated women invoke cosmic powers to summon their ideal man. They are delivered by Darryl Van Horne, a memorably cruel, enigmatic character played by Jack Nicholson in the 1987 film and now portrayed by Wet Wet Wet frontman Marti Pellow in a revived musical incarnation.
Rebecca Thornhill, here playing Sukie Rougemont for the second time after the production’s London debut in 2000, is amazed by Pellow’s performance: ‘I’ve worked with him before [in Chicago], but he’s bowled me over in this one. He’s got so much imagination.’ She admits the subject matter can be disturbing: ‘I read the book a long time ago and it was so overly descriptive, I had to put it down. I think the film is quite disgusting and scary too. It’s not something I would have chosen to adapt as a musical – but somehow it works.’
Thornhill appears to relish The Witches of Eastwick’s current success, eagerly anticipating the company’s stint at the Edinburgh Playhouse over the festive season. And, despite the production’s explicit subject matter, she’s convinced that it will survive in the increasingly crowded musical world: ‘Older musicals [like West Side Story] tend to stay the same for many years. Because this is a new piece, hopefully people will keep developing it. They’ll rewrite and change it and it’ll be something that endures.’