Jeeves / By Jeeves: A Timeline

The Timeline offers a chronological view of significant events in the history of the musicals Jeeves & By Jeeves; it only lists major productions and does not include the vast majority of the many professional and amateur productions of the play.


Circa 1971 / 1972
P.G. Wodehouse is approached about the possibility of a musical based on his Jeeves novels by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. He approves the idea and offers complete freedom to use the books as fit.

Alan Ayckbourn is first approached about the idea of writing the book for a musical of Jeeves with Lloyd Webber; at this point Alan is under the impression that Tim Rice is still aboard the project and will write the libretto. A meeting between all three takes place in which it is agreed to go ahead with the project.

November 1973
Tim Rice gives the first indication he may not be involved as lyricist for Jeeves.

24 February 1974
Contract negotiations confirm at this point Alan Ayckbourn is only intended to write the book for Jeeves.

Late February 1974
Andrew Lloyd Webber confirms Tim Rice is not likely to be involved in Jeeves, but he and Alan agree if Tim pulls out they can search for another lyricist who works well with Lloyd Webber.

4 March 1974
Alan Ayckbourn suggests Eric Thompson as director for Jeeves.

Circa mid-March 1974
Tim Rice definitely confirms he will not be writing lyrics for Jeeves and Andrew Lloyd Webber persuades Alan Ayckbourn to write the lyrics as well as the book.

May 1974
Alan Ayckbourn finishes his first lyrics for Jeeves - also the first lyrics he has ever written.

9 May 1974
Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests opens at the Greenwich Theatre, directed by Eric Thompson.

Mid May 1974
Contracts for Jeeves are drawn up which note the lyrics will be written by both Alan Ayckbourn and Eric Thompson; this is never referred to again and Thompson does not contribute lyrics to the show.

4 July 1974
Alan Ayckbourn, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Eric Thompson meet for three days at a flat at 146 Castle Road, Scarborough, to begin work together on Jeeves.

14 July 1974
Alan Ayckbourn completes the second draft of the full synopsis of Jeeves. The synopsis alone runs to 20 A4 pages.

1 August 1974
Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests transfers to The Globe Theatre, London, directed by Eric Thompson.

September 1974
Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber complete the first draft of Jeeves.

October 1974
Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber visit P.G. Wodehouse at his home in Long Island, Manhattan.

15 October 1974
P.G. Wodehouse celebrates his 93rd birthday.

1 January 1975
P.G. Wodehouse is knighted.

Early January 1975
Auditions take place for Jeeves at the Palace Theatre, London.

14 January 1975
The Evening Standard announces David Hemmings, who has never appeared in a West End musical, will be playing Bertie Wooster with Michael Aldridge as Jeeves in a new musical, a month prior to the official announcement. The producers refuse to comment on this leak.

12 February 1975
Jeeves is officially announced with David Hemmings, Michael Aldridge, Gabrielle Drake as Madeline Bassett and Betty Marsden as Aunt Dahlia. The budget is put at £100,00 with the West End opening set for April. Unfortunately, David Hemmings' private life and recent divorce is brought up during the press conference.

12 - 14 February 1975
The media reports the announcement of Jeeves, although most of the major headlines concentrate on David Hemmings and his apparently acrimonious divorce from Gayle Hunnicutt.

14 February 1975
P.G. Wodehouse dies at his home in Long Island, New York.

Circa 21 February 1975
Rehearsals for Jeeves begin.

22 March 1975
Jeeves opens at the Bristol Hippodrome, prior to a West End transfer. The first night performance runs for approximately 4½ hours.

Early April 1975
Betty Marsden is informed her character, Aunt Dahlia, has been written out of Jeeves in a bid to reduce the running time for its London opening. The musical is now running at approximately 3½ hours.

Circa 18 April
Eric Thompson is removed as director of Jeeves. With little option, Alan Ayckbourn takes over as director.

22 April 1975
Jeeves opens at Her Majesty's Theatre, London, directing credit is given to Eric Thompson. The musical is now running at approximately 2¾ hours.

23 April 1975
The first reviews of Jeeves are published; over the next several days, Jeeves will receive the consistently worst reviews of any of Alan Ayckbourn's plays.

25 April 1975
A letter is sent from the producers of Jeeves asking all the creative talent to waive their percentages in order to give the musical a chance to survive.

Circa 12 May
It is announced Jeeves will close in London on 24 May.

24 May 1975
Jeeves closes at Her Majesty's Theatre, London.

Circa September 1975
Original cast recording of Jeeves released.

1980 - 1993
Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber both propose at various times to revive and revise Jeeves.

9 December 1981
Dulwich College Junior Dramatic Society presents the first and last production of Jeeves outside of the original West End production.

By Jeeves

Alan and Andrew Lloyd Webber agree to revise and revive Jeeves to mark its 20th anniversary in 1995.

July 1994
Alan Ayckbourn completes his first draft of the revised Jeeves. A decision is made soon afterwards to do a workshop performance of the musical.

16 September 1995
First try-out of the revised musical By Jeeves in front of a limited audience.

31 January 1996
The Scarborough Evening News announces a revised version of Jeeves will open the new Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough (click here to see the announcement).

24 April 1996
First performance of By Jeeves at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, directed by Alan Ayckbourn.

1 May 1996
By Jeeves press night / official opening at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, directed by Alan Ayckbourn.

May 1996
A live original cast recording of By Jeeves at the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, is released. It is limited in both quantities and advertised as only being available for the duration of the Scarborough run.

29 June 1996
Private preview of By Jeeves at the Duke of York's Theatre, London, for visitors to Andrew Lloyd Webber's 22nd Sydmonton Festival.

2 July 1996
By Jeeves opens at the Duke Of York's Theatre, London, directed by Alan Ayckbourn.

3 October 1996
By Jeeves transfers to the Lyric Theatre, London.

17 October 1996
American premiere of By Jeeves at the Norma Terris Theater, Connecticut, directed by Alan Ayckbourn and produced by the Goodspeed Opera House.

November 1996
By Jeeves is transmitted on BBC Radio, adapted and directed by Alan Ayckbourn.

Original cast recording of the London production of By Jeeves is released.

22 February 1997
By Jeeves closes at the Lyric Theatre, London, before embarking on a UK tour.

4 March 1997
By Jeeves opens at the Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles, directed by Alan Ayckbourn as part of its inaugural season, running until 6 April 1997.

4 June 1997
By Jeeves opens at the John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, Washington, directed by Alan Ayckbourn, running until 31 August 1997.

By Jeeves is recorded for television by the Canadian Broadcasting Company, directed by Alan Ayckbourn and Nick Morris.

1 February 2001
By Jeeves opens at the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, directed by Alan Ayckbourn, running until 4 March 2001.

28 October 2001
By Jeeves opens at the Helen Hayes Theatre, New York, directed by Alan Ayckbourn.

30 December 2001
By Jeeves closes at the Helen Hayes Theatre, New York.

Original cast recording of the Broadway production of By Jeeves is released.

By Jeeves is released on DVD in the UK.

1 February 2011
By Jeeves opens at the Landor Theatre, London, directed by Nick Bagnall. This is a new production adapted with an emphasis on tap dancing.

12 March 2011
By Jeeves closes at the Landor Theatre, London.

The Really Useful Group clarifies
By Jeeves is available for performance by professionals, amateurs, schools and other groups.

6 October 2017
By Jeeves is revived at the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere, to mark the venue's 25th anniversary, directed by Alan Ayckbourn.

4 November 2017
By Jeeves closes at the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere.

8 May 2020
The 2001 television adaptation of By Jeeves is streamed as part of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Shows Must Go On! initiative on Youtube during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

Article by Simon Murgatroyd. Copyright: Haydonning Ltd. Please do not reproduce without permission of copyright holder.