I didn't see the show so can't say whether the book was to blame for the show closing. My inkling is that it's a show that will work better with a regional tour. The story of a chiropodist (Reece Shearsmith) and his wife (Sarah Lancashire) in a small post-war Yorkshire town still under rationing who steals a pig doesn't exactly sound like one for the Londoners. It's decidedly silly and unsophisticated, which probably put people off spending top-whack prices, and isn't based on something well-known (it's based on an Alan Bennett film called A Private Function). Others have mentioned that the name is a bit cringy, which I don't think helped. It's not so much a question of the musical's worth but that new shows simply cannot compete with jukebox musicals, 'the old favourites' and the mega Broadway imports.
What struck me listening to the soundtrack is that it's very catchy. Composers George Stiles and Anthony Drewe have a knack for this; I saw an amateur performance of their musical version of Peter Pan, which was awfully cheesy and yet really good fun. It also has a warm innocent charm that comes through very strongly; I guess you could call it 'feel good'.
The best tracks are: - Magic Fingers: possibly a little innuendo here but genuinely touching, as three women sing about how they miss their husbands, who have either been killed or severely injured in the war. It shows that the show isn't completely about broad humour. - Nobody: the chiropodist's wife's big brassy number. Apparantly Liza Minelli's now doing it in her set and it's a very Liza/Streisand diva song. - Betty Blue Eyes: the song that you come out singing. Cute and ridiculous- even more so when you YouTube the creepy anamatronic pig that played Betty. - Lionheart: nice bit of period music here and again, really cute. - Another Little Victory: jolly little small town feel to this one. Plus, sounds of the pig pooping!
Sarah Lancashire is suitably feisty, with Northern grit and rolled up sleeves, and Reece Shearsmith (one of The League of Gentlemen) is adorable. Best known for playing Papa Lazarou and Edward in TLOG but he also played sweet innocent characters like Benjamin (housebound nephew of hygeine and toad-obsessed Dentons) and Ross (one of Pauline's 'dole scum'). It's lovely to hear Lancashire and Shearsmith's accents come through in the song, as these are very much characters songs. They may not be Elaine Page and Michael Ball but the show requires people who sound suitably ordinary.
It may not be hard-hitting satire but its lack of intellectualism makes it refreshing and very accessible. Personally I love the tweeness but then, I live in a small rural town; towns which tend not to have changed much from the post-war era. I don't think London audiences could really appreciate this or identify with it.
I would definitely recommend a listen of this- maybe quickly Wikipedia it first for the story but it's not as complex as something like Grand Hotel. You can happily follow it along with a basic knowledge of the story.