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Oct 17th

Alexandra Burke Leads The Bodyguard UK Tour

By Cameron Lowe

Following her sell-out run at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End, producers Michael Harrison and David Ian are delighted to announce that three-time Brit nominee and X-Factor winner, Alexandra Burke, will star in the leading role of ‘Rachel Marron’ in the forthcoming UK and Ireland tour of Thea Sharrock’s hit musical THE BODYGUARD 
www.thebodyguardmusical.comThe tour opens at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton on 12 February 2015 and makes its Scottish premiere at the King’s Theatre Glasgow on 4 March 2015.

Alexandra Burke said "I couldn't be happier to be joining the tour and I'm excited to get started. Being on the theatre stage has brought me great happiness. It is an honour to have been asked to join the team and I look forward to creating new and long lasting memories with the cast.

Alexandra Burke photo by Uli WebberAlexandra Burke rose to fame after winning the fifth series of The X Factor. Her debut number one single Hallelujah sold over one million copies in the UK, a first for a British female soloist. Burke’s first album, Overcome saw the release of her subsequent number one singles Bad Boys and Start Without You. In 2011 she embarked on her first solo tour and was invited by Beyoncé to support her I Am... Tour. Her second album, Heartbreak on Hold, was released in June 2012 and later this year sees the release of her third studio album.

Alexandra Burke will perform the role of ‘Rachel Marron’ at all evening performances. At the matinee performances, the role of ‘Rachel Marron’ will be played by Zoe Birkett.

Zoe Birkett is probably best known as the highest placing female contestant in ITV’s Pop Idol, 2002. Since then she has appeared in the West End productions of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and originated the female lead in Thriller Live. Her other theatre credits include the Acid Queen in Tommy and Maureen in Rent.

Based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 Oscar nominated Warner Bros. film, THE BODYGUARD, which starred Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, was nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and Best Set Design and won Best New Musical at the Whatsonstage Awards.

Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge; what they don’t expect is to fall in love. A romantic thriller, THE BODYGUARD features a host of irresistible classics including Queen of the NightSo EmotionalOne Moment in TimeSaving All My LoveI’m Your Baby TonightRun to YouI Have NothingI Wanna Dance with Somebody and one of the biggest selling songs of all time – I Will Always Love You.

Photo by Uli  Webber,  courtesy of Ambassadors Theatre Group 

























































Aug 18th

God Help The Girl & Belle and Sebastian Live By Satellite (15)

By Kirstie Niland

The Dukes, Lancaster

Saturday, 16 August

“You don’t make a band, a band makes you. It picks you up and sweeps you along,” says James, as he lies in the grass with fellow musicians Eve and Cassie.

God Help The Girl

And this is exactly what Stuart Murdoch’s film Gold Help the Girl does, taking you on a musical journey through Glasgow with Eve as she overcomes anorexia and forms her own band.

Belle and Sebastian frontman Murdoch’s directorial debut won him awards at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and The Dukes was one of 77 UK cinemas to screen the film in tandem with the Edinburgh premiere on Saturday night.

This was followed by a live satellite performance by Belle and Sebastian and the film cast, with audiences treated to a performance by Catherine Ireton as Eve. Sadly the film’s heroine was unable to perform, which was a shame as Australian actress Emily Browning is captivating from the start.

She opens the film by breaking the fourth wall and into song to tell her story through the tracks of Belle and Sebastian’s 2009 album, Gold Help the Girl.

The Glasgow location and flashes of Blondie in the background establish the Indie-Pop feel, as Eve draws you into her troubled world, beginning with a brief escape from rehab when she meets James (Olly Alexander) and his “pupil” Cassie (Hannah Murray).

As Eve works her way up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to reach the goal of “art, morality and music” set by her therapist, James and Cassie take on supporting roles in her songs and coming of age.

James is the stereotypical boy that a beautiful girl depends on but will never fancy. Cassie is the quirky posh girl for whom the idea of forming a band is a welcome escape from convention. And Eve is the one who will eventually leave them behind and go on to stardom.

The ups and downs include a fun 60s pop jam at a social club; Eve’s overdose as she struggles to believe in a happy ending; and the trio’s search for a guitarist and a name for their band. The latter providing an enlightening education into the meaning of Pearl Jam and 10cc.(Google it).

The two characters who propel Eve back and forward include love interest Anton, who dismisses her songs as depressing and self indulgent, and the hairdresser and healer who assures her she will be somebody important one day.

Eve battles to beat her demons and continues to write her feelings down, like her therapist told her to, and as the time lapse photography reflects the change in season, so Eve leaves her friends behind to start a new life at music school

Meanwhile James reflects on the “greatness that happened that summer”, and speaks for many a group of friends who have formed a close alliance before life disbands them, when he ponders: “For a moment we were all in the right place and the possibilities were infinite.”

For me, the outstanding moment was the rendition of the upbeat Musician, Please Take Heed, and the lyrics: “I made a daisy chain from phrase, verse, and punctuation.” This line epitomises the charm of God Help the Girl. Yes it’s disjointed at times, and there are some blips in continuity, however Stuart Murdoch’s compilation of insightful scenes interspersed with song is a characterful daisy chain in itself, which I’m sure many an angst-ridden teen can identify with.

As for self indulgent? Maybe, but I guess that’s the essence of the story – a talented but troubled girl’s recovery through introspection and a musical rite of passage.

God Help the Girl will be released in UK cinemas on August 22.

Aug 18th

Over The Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story - 10th Anniversary Tour

By Steve Burbridge

Brochure Image 2014.jpeg


World On Stage Limited is proud to announce the sensational tenth anniversary UK tour of Over The Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story. Since its first performance in 2004, this compelling musical play has received rapturous receptions, garnered five-star reviews, and inspired cathartic outpourings of emotion.


This is the poignant and moving story of Washington-born singer Eva Cassidy. By the time of her death, she was unknown outside Washington but within four years Terry Wogan discovered and promoted her haunting interpretation of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ to the top of the chart.


This sad but uplifting musical play journeys through her life, from her idyllic childhood growing up in a musical family, to her studio work with boyfriend and mentor Chris Biondo; to the exuberant live recording of Blues Alley and finally to her tragically premature death at the age of only 33 years.


Featuring a truly talented all-star cast of performers and musicians, Over The Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story is an award-winning musical that captures the qualities of this wonderfully talented and spiritual song stylist. Not since Blood Brothers has a musical received such an emotional response, with sell-out performances and standing ovations throughout the UK and Ireland.



Over The Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story

has already wowed audiences all over Europe and includes more than 27 of her best-loved songs, recreated by a multi-talented cast of West End performers, including unforgettable classics such as Fields of Gold, Songbird, Autumn Leaves, Kathy’s Song and many more.



NICOLE FARADAY (Bad Girls; Emmerdale; Casualty) stars as Eva Cassidy, TOM VAUGHAN (Hollyoaks) as Danny Cassidy and ROSE-MARIE (Blood Brothers; Doctors) as Mary Annn Redmond, whilst accomplished West End actor ROBERT GROSE (The Lion King; Starlight Express & Five Guys Named Moe) plays larger-than-life legendary music mogul, Chuck Brown.




More than a musical life-story, Over The Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story is a show for anyone who has lost someone they love. A thoroughly entertaining and a truly memorable experience.




What the critics say:



Over The Rainbow is two hours of fabulous entertainment . . . Really worth going along to see the show!”  - BBC West Midlands



“An unmissable evening for Eva’s fans” - Peterborough Evening Telegraph



“Cassidy’s final public performance closed with What a Wonderful World as did this tribute and though infused with lyrics of optimism, tears flowed throughout the auditorium. Thus, demonstrating live theatre is most powerful when it has the ability to reach out and touch the heart of its audience” - Grimsby Telegraph



“Simply wonderful . . . a beautiful show” – Northern Echo



“Spontaneous standing ovation for Eva Cassidy musical” – Waterford News



“Fantastic performances all round” – Hull Daily Mail



“If you’re a fan of Eva Cassidy’s music, you will love this” – British Theatre Guide



“A shining example of everything good theatre should be” – The Public Reviews



“A performance that is worth travelling some distance to see” – What’s On Stage?




Tenth Anniversary Tour Dates



9th                   Wellingborough Castle Theatre

11th                 Llandudno Venue Cymru

12th                 Barnstaple Queens Theatre

13th                 Bristol Hippodrome Theatre

14th                 Milton Keynes Theatre

16th                 South Shields Customs House

17th, 18th         Lancaster Grand Theatre

19th                 Glenrothes Halls

20th                 Skegness Embassy Theatre

21st                  Ayr Gaiety

23rd                 Whitley Bay Playhouse

24th, 25th          Swansea Grand Theatre

26th                  Crawley Hawth Theatre

27th                 Wimbledon New Theatre

28th                 Reading Hexagon Theatre




1st                   Yeovil Octagon Theatre

3rd, 4th             Darlington Civic Theatre

6th, 7th            Greenock Beacon

8th                  Blackpool Grand Theatre

9 10, 11         Motherwell Theatre

15th,16th         Woking New Victoria Theatre

17th                Newark Palace Theatre

18th                Manchester Palace Theatre

19th                New Brighton Floral Pavilion

21st                 Tewkesbury Roses

22nd                Southsea Kings Theatre

23rd                 Rotherham Civic Theatre

24th                 Scarborough Spa

26th                 Richmond Theatre

28th                 Dartford Orchard Theatre

29th                 Bradford St Georges Halls

30th                 Grimsby Auditorium

31st                 Swindon Wyvern Theatre



3rd                   Galway Town Hall Theatre

5th                    Armagh Market Place

6th                    Dublin Helix Theatre

7th & 8th         Waterford Theatre Royal

17th                  Epsom Playhouse

19th                  Maidstone Haslitt

20, 21 & 22     Churchill Bromley












Jul 9th

Forbidden Planet Returns!

By Cameron Lowe
25 years after Captain Tempest and his crew first journeyed into hyperspace, and 14 years after the last UK tour, Olivier Award-winning rock spectacular Return to the Forbidden Planet is back and exploding onto stage in a major new 25th Anniversary production.
Return to the Forbidden Planet

Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and packed with rock n’ roll classics including Great Balls of Fire, Good Vibrations, Heard It Through the Grapevine and Born To Be Wild, Return to the Forbidden Planet is a musical of meteoric proportions that will be remembered for light years to come. With stunning special effects, a brilliant cast of actor-musicians, a mad scientist, a huge green-tentacled monster and a rock ’n’ roller-skating robot, your in-flight entertainment is guaranteed! So fasten your seatbelts, set your ray guns to stun and prepare for blast off!
“Deliriously addictive”

Return to the Forbidden Planet opened at the West End’s Cambridge Theatre in September 1989, where it ran for over 1500 performances and won the 1990 Olivier Award for Best Musical (sorry Miss Saigon, spaceships trump helicopters!).
Forbidden Planet Returns

The original design team return to recreate their award-winning original production, helmed by writer by Bob Carton, who directed the West End production and as artistic director of Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch now returns to direct this highly anticipated 25th Anniversary tour.
Bob Carlton said today: “It was an incredible time when Return to the Forbidden Planet landed in West End, in what was a vintage year alongside shows such as Miss Saigon and Buddy. And it’s thanks to the audiences, who took it to their hearts and rocked out every night, that it became such a cult success. I can’t wait to bring it back 25 years later, to introduce it to a whole new generation and to reunite with original fans of the show. I’m thrilled to be able to return to the Forbidden Planet, along with the original design team, and get reacquainted with Captain Tempest and his crew once more!”
Return to the Forbidden Planet is directed by Bob Carlton and choreographed by Frederick ‘Frido’ Ruth, with musical direction by Greg Last. It is designed by Rodney Ford with lighting design by Mark Dymock and sound design by Rick Clark.
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May 29th

Tip Top Cast Announced for Top Hat Tour

By Cameron Lowe

UK TOUR: 12 August 2014 – 25 July 2015

Top Hat
Top Hat, winner of three Olivier Awards, for ‘Best New Musical’, ‘Best Choreography’ and ‘Best Costume Design’ from a total of seven nominations and winner of the Evening Standard Award for ‘Best Night Out’, is setting off on an epic 47-week UK tour, visiting 24 theatres nationwide. Opening at New Wimbledon Theatre on Tuesday 12 August 2014 the production will tour until Saturday 25 July 2015. 
The world premiere stage production of Top Hat opened in the West End at the Aldwych Theatre on 9 May 2012 where it played over 600 performances during its run of nearly two years. Prior to the West End, the production previously enjoyed a sell-out UK Tour in 2011.
Stepping into the shoes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the lead roles of Jerry Travers and Dale Tremont, are Alan Burkitt and Charlotte Gooch, who both return to Top Hat having previously performed these roles in the West End. They are joined by Clive Hayward who returns as Horace Hardwick, the role he played in the West End, Rebecca Thornhill as Madge Hardwick, Sebastien Torkia as Alberto Beddini and John Conroy as Horace’s valet Bates. 
Top Hat is directed by Matthew White and choreographed by Bill Deamer (Olivier Award winner for Best Choreography), set designs are by Hildegard Bechtler (Olivier Award nominee for Best Set Design), costume designs by Jon Morrell (Olivier Award winner for Best Costume Design), lighting design by Peter Mumford, sound by Gareth Owen (Olivier Award nominee for Best Sound Design), new orchestrations by Chris Walker, musical supervision by Richard Balcombe.
Jerry Travers (Alan Burkitt), the famous American tap dancer, arrives in London to appear in his first West End show. Travers meets the irresistible Dale Tremont (Charlotte Gooch), the girl of his dreams, and follows her across Europe in an attempt to win her heart.  
With music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and based on the RKO motion picture, the screenplay by Dwight Taylor and Allan Scott has been adapted for the stage by Matthew White and Howard Jacques and is presented by arrangement with RKO Pictures LLC, Warner Bros Theatre Ventures Inc. and the Irving Berlin Music Company.  
Performed by a cast of 29 and accompanied by 11 live musicians, this multi award-winning musical comedy includes Irving Berlin classics from the movie such as Cheek to Cheek, Isn’t It a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain and Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.  In addition, from Berlin’s 1200 strong back catalogue, a further ten numbers have been interpolated including well-loved favourites Let’s Face the Music and Dance and Puttin’ On the Ritz.

Alan Burkitt Alan Burkitt started his career winning the All England Tap Dancer of the Year award. A member of the original West End cast of Top Hat at the Aldwych Theatre, Burkitt understudied the lead role of Jerry Travers for both Tom Chambers and Gavin Lee. He received rave reviews when he stood in for Lee on press night, a success story documented by Channel 4 for the TV series ‘The Sound of Musicals’. Other recent stage credits include: Singin’ in the Rain, Andy Lee in 42nd Street (Chichester Festival Theatre), the Prince in Adam Cooper’s Shall We Dance (Sadler’s Wells), Cats (German Tour) and We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre).

Charlotte Gooch Charlotte Gooch took over the lead role of Dale Tremont from Summer Strallen in the West End, performing alongside Tom Chambers as Jerry Travers. Gooch performed the lead role of Penny Johnson in Dirty Dancing in the West End at the Piccadilly Theatre and also in the original national tour. Other recent stage credits include: the lead role of Sandy in Grease (UK Tour), Cats (German Tour) and the workshop of Swing Time, dancing a duet with Anton du Beke.
Oct 10th

Disney's The Lion King's Reign Begins in Edinburgh

By Cameron Lowe
"From the day we arrived on the planet ... and blinking, stepped into the sun ..." With these words there is a real sense that something EPIC is about to happen ... AND IT IS!!

The Lion KingDisney’s legendary musical THE LION KING will begin performances tomorrow night at the Edinburgh Playhouse, in advance of its official opening on Tuesday 22nd October. This will mark the first time that Julie Taymor’s internationally celebrated production will have played in Scotland.

An international cast of 52 performers from 18 different countries are today undergoing final preparations for their debut in Edinburgh. A fleet of 23 trucks has been utilised to transport Disney’s enormous production to Edinburgh, making it the largest theatre production ever to tour Europe.


Excitement has been building across the region since the season was announced in January. Ticket sales have been extremely strong, with over 210,000 seats already sold. Great seats are still available, particularly for midweek performances during the month of November.


The company is led by 11 principals; Gugwana Dlamini as Rafiki, Cleveland Cathnott as Mufasa, Meilyr Sion as Zazu, Stephen Carlile as Scar, Me’sha Bryan as Shenzi, Daniel Norford as Banzai, Philip Oakland as Ed, John Hasler as Timon, Lee Ormsby as Pumbaa, Nicholas Nkuna as Simba and Ava Brennan as Nala.

Four years in development, this first ever UK tour of Disney’s THE LION KING will play a four-month season in Edinburgh. The award-winning production will then play seasons in, Plymouth, Bradford and Liverpool, with additional cities to be announced shortly. In total, the production will visit 10 cities in the UK and Ireland over two and a half years.



Jo Beale, General Manager of The Edinburgh Playhouse, said:

"We are thrilled that Disney’s The Lion King opens it’s only Scottish season at The Edinburgh Playhouse tomorrow for a spectacular four month run. We look forward to welcoming several hundred thousand people to the Scottish premiere of this wonderful production, making it undoubtedly the greatest theatrical event the venue has ever seen.”

A free exhibition – EXPLORING THE LION KING – From Inspiration to Realisation – is also on display at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre until 12 January. This interactive exhibit includes costumes, masks and puppets from the production, along with original character models, sketches, set model and more.

The acclaimed stage adaptation of Disney’s 1994 animated film was first seen on Broadway in 1997, where it recently celebrated its 15th anniversary. The production has now been seen by over 70 million people across five continents and the acclaimed West End production continues to sell out at London’s Lyceum Theatre in its 15th triumphant year.






EXPLORING THE LION KING (The Lion King Exhibition)

From Saturday 28th September


City Art Centre

2 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DE

0131 529 3993 /
Sep 27th

SHREK is Coming to Glasgow!

By Cameron Lowe

SHREK the MusicalProducers of SHREK THE MUSICAL® today announced that the larger-than-life production will coming to the King’s Theatre on 29 April - Sunday 17 May 2015,  direct from London, where it was seen live on stage by nearly a million people. SHREK THE MUSICAL® will be directing by Nigel Harman who starred as Lord Farquaad in the west end production, winning him the 2012 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.


King’s Theatre General Manager, James Haworth said: "We are delighted to be hosting the Scottish Premiere of Shrek The Musical  on this, its first ever tour. The King’s has been attracting some large scale productions such as Dirty Dancing and Wicked and to host a show of this scale and profile is a huge reflection of the importance theatre producers place on the Glasgow audience."


Producers Caro Newling, Neal Street Productions, and Nick Salmon, Playful Productions say: "We are very excited to be bringing SHREK THE MUSICAL to the Kings Theatre in April 2015 as part of our tour of the best venues across the UK and Ireland. Many years of fun with some of the best talents working in theatre today have gone in to its making and as a result it has thrilled audiences all over the world with its boundless enthusiasm and fun- we know that the people of Glasgow will take SHREK to their hearts, just as we did at Drury Lane!"


SHREK THE MUSICAL®, originally directed (in the west end) by Jason Moore and Rob Ashford, is based on the story and characters from William Steig’s book Shrek! and the Oscar®-winning DreamWorks Animations feature film.


Bill Damaschke, Chief Creative Officer of DreamWorks says:


"We are thrilled that Shrek and his fairy-tale friends will be heading out on tour across the UK and Ireland and delighted that our very own Nigel Harman will be directing SHREK THE MUSICAL® on the road. It has been such a joy to bring this loved story to life and we can’t wait for families up and down the country to experience their beloved swamp-dwelling ogre, Princess Fiona, Donkey and all their pals live on stage, as so many have on Broadway and in the west end."


Director of SHREK THE MUSICAL® UK and Ireland Tour, Nigel Harman says:


"I am delighted to be returning to Shrek as its director. This show is very special to me with its dizzying blend of great characters, a hilarious script and sublime music. This production is visually stunning, and the story has the magic ingredient of moving at great pace while still being surprisingly intimate. In short, there was no way I was going to say no to the challenge of realising the production for the UK and Ireland.  I really can't wait to take this show on the road!"


SHREK on TourSHREK THE MUSICAL® opened on Broadway in 2008 before touring to nearly 150 cities in the USA and Canada. Productions of SHREK THE MUSICAL® have played in Spain, Poland, France, Malaysia, China, Brazil, Italy, Denmark, The Netherlands, Estonia, Israel and Turkey. The UK and Ireland tour will be presented by Dreamworks Theatricals, Neal Street Productions, Playful Productions, Lee Menzies, Ron Kastner, Robert G Bartner, Mark Cartwright, Gavin Kalin, Peter Clayton and Adam Blanshay.

With "Wicked" confirmed to run at the King's in April 2014, Glasgow is fast becoming the West-End of Scotland!
Jul 29th

Shakespeare's Globe Takes 'Hamlet' to the World!

By Cameron Lowe

On 23 April 2014 – the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth – Shakespeare’s Globe will embark on a two-year global tour of Hamlet that will aim to take in every country in the world. The ‘Globe to Globe Hamlet’, directed by the Globe’s Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole, will be a completely unprecedented theatrical adventure.

The company will travel to all 205 nations in the world to stage Hamlet in a huge range of unique and atmospheric venues, from village squares to national theatres, from palaces to beaches. They will travel by boat, sleeper train, jeep, tall ship, bus and aeroplane across the seven continents.

The Globe to Globe Hamlet will reinforce the Globe’s continuing commitment to internationalising Shakespeare following the runaway success of the 2012 ‘Globe to Globe’ festival. During the festival 110,000 people – 80% of whom were first-time visitors to the Globe – flocked to watch 37 works of Shakespeare performed in 37 different languages over just six weeks. This new tour will bring one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays to some of the most inaccessible places in the world.

Theatre director Peter Brook said: The six simplest words in the English language are TO BE OR NOT TO BE.  There is hardly a corner of the planet where these words have not been translated. Even in English, those who can't speak the language will at once recognise the sound and exclaim 'Shakespeare!' Hamlet is the most all encompassing of Shakespeare's plays.  Everyone, young or old can today find an immediate identification with its characters, their pains and their interrogations. To take Hamlet in its original language around the world is a bold and dynamic project. It can bring a rich journey of discovery to new audiences everywhere.”

The Globe’s Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole said: “In 1608, only five years after it was written, Hamlet was performed on a boat – the Red Dragon – off the coast of Yemen. Just ten years later it was being toured extensively all over Northern Europe. The spirit of touring, and of communicating stories to fresh ears, was always central to Shakespeare’s work. We couldn’t be happier to be extending that mission even further. By train, coach, plane and boat we aim to take this wonderful, iconic, multifarious play to as many fresh ears as we possibly can.”

Globe on TourThe small-scale production, which toured the UK, Europe and the United States in 2011 and 2012, is a fresh version of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy of deferred revenge that emphasizes the play’s gallows humour and celebrates the exuberance and invention of its language. A new cast of just eight actors will perform over two dozen parts on a stripped-down booth stage in a brisk two hours and forty minutes. The New York Times applauded “a production that prizes efficiency, clarity, accessibility and above all energy”, the Mexican newspaper La Jornada called it “bright, light and nimble” and in Austria Die Presse described it as “boisterous, funny, fast-paced and highly musical”, while the Daily Telegraph praised its “young, unjaded and open-hearted” portrayal of the Danish prince.

The tour will finish on 23 April 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. This will also be the date of Dominic’s departure from the Globe, after a decade as Artistic Director. 

Feb 28th

Interview with Alexander Wright, writer of 'Some Small Love Story'/'Beulah'

By Sue Casson

As a double bill of new musical theatre, ‘Some Small Love Story’ (a four-handed boutique piece) and ‘Beulah’ (featuring original folk music and puppetry), billed as ‘the next generation of must-see musicals’, sets off on national tour, I caught up with writer, the Flanagan Collective’s Alexander Wright, for a quick chat.


SC       So what are you up to?


AW      The show consists of two new pieces of musical theatre. Often, when someone mentions a musical, you think of a quite glitzy, high spec show, with a big chorus, orchestra and dance routines, but these two shows are very much about the relationship between the people on stage and the people sitting with them, so there’s no set as such. In ‘Beulah’, everything is about the instruments that the two guys make all the music on, object manipulation and projections, while ‘Some Small Love Story’ is just four people standing on stage, talking to you. Nothing else. So they’re both very stripped back; not at all what you might expect from a traditional musical whatsoever. Both are very open, honest, accessible pieces. I’ve written both scripts and all of the lyrics, although all credit due to the original cast who helped to put everything in the right order! My editing process is quite lengthy. It can start with giving the actors and director a big, rambling thing and they, thankfully, far more intelligently that I could, pare it down in the right way.


Q. Are the two shows linked?


They were developed independently rather than as a double bill, but I watched them for the first time together at an open dress rehearsal two days before the tour started, and I thought ‘I hope these work together’. Rather stupidly, I hadn’t thought of that until that point but they seem to work together remarkably well. ‘Beulah’ is a very colourful, busy, and fanciful piece, while ‘Some Small Love Story’ is very still and very much about us and our real world. Both pieces are about the joy, beauty and love you can find in the world and how important other people are to us, but both articulate this in different ways. I guess they both have a similar, I guess clichéd, notion that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. So they’re two very different pieces, but they complement each other beautifully


SC       What does the musical element add to the show?


AW      The music for ‘Beulah’ was composed by Jim Harbourne, who’s in the show and Ed Wren. Ed’s on another tour at present, so Ryland Teifi, a multi-award-winning Welsh musician has joined our cast. Jim and Ryland play about twelve different instruments between them, all live, so there’s harmoniums, accordions, bazukis, guitars, whistles—you name it, we’ve probably got one. The music for ‘Some Small Love Story’ was composed by Gavin Whitworth, who’s a musical director and theatre composer. It’s stunning, with some very moving, soaring harmonies for the four-strong cast. The two shows have very different sounds but they’re both very deeply woven. Unlike in ‘Les Mis’, where the whole story is sung, the songs in these shows sit just sit within the narrative, adding a lot of texture and feeling.


SC       Have you used music in all of your productions?


AW      I think I’m just a frustrated band member really! If I could choose whether to be a playwright or be in a famous band, I’d choose the latter! If you listen to a song, it can move you in a moment, even if you’ve never heard it before. You might not know what they’re singing about, but music does something to you which is quite remarkable. I think that a well-written piece of music can do something that’s so much greater than any words I could ever write, so I find it a very important aspect of telling a story. I think we hear music far more in our lives than we listen to constructed narratives. I always have the radio or a CD on, but we don’t always have someone walking around with us reciting a script so I think it’s a really nice way to articulate a story and something we can easily connect with. I just like music really. It’s stunning.

Alexander Wright cr. Luke Thompson.jpg
Alexander Wright. Photo: Luke Thompson

SC       How did the team come together for the show?


AW      The show is produced by Hartshorn-Hook, who’re based in Manchester. I’ve got to know them quite well over the past few years. They do quite a lot of work at the Edinburgh Fringe, and in London and Manchester, and so our paths cross quite often. They came to see ‘Some Small Love Story’ in Edinburgh in 2011, loved it, and wanted to do more with it and for it to be seen by more people, so they really helped this project get off the ground. They secured funding, very kindly, from the Arts Council for ‘Some Small Love Story’, to take it to bigger audiences, so it’s been really nice to work with a new group of people. Due to circumstances, we needed to recast and change the team slightly so it’s exciting to work with Noreen Kershaw, a BAFTA-winning director, and for her to have her input into ‘Some Small Love Story’, and then to get Ryland in on ‘Beulah’ and modify some of the music to suit the instruments he can play. It’s really exciting to bring new people in to the stories. It helps you as a director/writer to re-understand what’s exciting about that story and why you wrote it in the first place. These are scripts that I wrote quite a while ago now and it’s exciting to have a new, fresh, set of eyes on them. You go, ‘Oh, yes I remember what this bit was or why I put that bit in’. It’s really exciting.


SC       Have you found anything particularly challenging about this project?


AW      I think that touring as an activity is quite challenging. The idea that every three days you up sticks, make friends with a new venue, figure out how they work, hopefully attract a new audience, try to have a conversation with ten different audiences around the country. It’s tough. A new experience for us. Neither Flanagan Collective nor Harsthorn-Hook have done a traditional tour in this sense, where you do Monday to Wednesday in one venue and then Thursday to Saturday in another. It’s a great learning curve and something that very valuable to do. How to make two shows and get them out on tour. Again, it’s how to be economical with it, so the practical side is very interesting and it’s great that the Arts Council can support our learning and development in that way.


SC       How have audiences been reacting to the show so far?


This is why Twitter is such a great invention! Cos I can listen to what people are saying in Manchester, when I’m not there. We’ve had an excellent response, and you forget, when you’re so attached to something, quite what it’s like to watch it for the first time. I went to see the shows in Hull the other day and remembered how much I loved them and what it would be like to go and see them for the first time and find yourself in the magical world of ‘Beulah’ and the heart-breaking world of ‘Some Small Love Story’. It’s been clear from listening to people’s responses that they find themselves lost in a place that they weren’t necessarily expecting to be on a Tuesday night when you’re in Hull and it’s snowy outside but you end up in a warm, loving story, so we’ve had really good responses. I’m looking forward to going to York because that’s where I’m based and where we spend a lot of time making stuff, so it’ll be really exciting to take the shows there. Then on Saturday 9th March, we’re at the Fauconberg Arms in Coxwold, a pub in the town where I grew up, so that all the local folk who I grew up with and my family can see the show. It’s great having such a diverse bunch of venues because you get a diverse audience with lots of different opinions, which is lovely.


SC       Do you have any future plans for these two shows?


AW      We’ve got a week at the Arts Theatre in London, which will be a great opportunity, hopefully, to get a lot of conversations started about the future of the shows, where they can go next and how we carry on this journey. We’re not over yet. We’ll carry on making new work, but I definitely think there’s more life in these shows. I’m also busy trying to wrestle a massive story down into a tellable tale for a piece called ‘Bablyon’, a romping, stomping folk party, that’ll be a nice jolly evening full of fantasy, drinking and singing, and I’m also writing a more delicate piece called ‘The Cloud People’ which will be mainly visual with lots of puppets. We’re starting some conversations with a great company called The River People about collaborating on some work, so there’s plenty going on.


SC       What kind of people inspire you as a writer/director?


AW      I get excited by people who lead you into a world, whether it’s a physical one, like when an entire warehouse is transformed so that you can run around in it for three hours, or an imaginative one, where someone quietly leads you into an imaginative place. There are performers who just stand on stage and introduce themselves, like Tim Crouch, but an hour later you’re lost in quite a wonderful story, believing something which is by no means in front of you but all in your imagination. There’re people who allow audiences into their pieces and the imaginative world of the narrative, which I find remarkable.


SC       Any final comments?


AW      I hope people will come and watch. We’re all still quite young and trying to figure out how to best make things work. In the Flanagan Collective particularly, we’re always up for a chat. People are very welcome to talk to us after the shows, or get in touch with us on Twitter or online or give me a ring. We want to know what people think, so we hope they’ll be involved in the conversation.


‘Some Small Love Story’ and ‘Beulah’ Tour Dates:


South Hill Park, Bracknell, 14 - 16 Feb

Slung Low’s The HUB, Leeds, 18 - 20 Feb

The Lowry Studio, Salford Quays, 21 - 23 Feb

The Fruit Space, Hull, 25 - 27 Feb

Summerhall, Edinburgh, 28 Feb - 2 March

York Theatre Royal, Cocktail Room, York, 5 - 7 March

Fauconberg Arms, Coxwolds, 9 March

The musicals will show independently at The Arts Theatre

Beulah only – The Arts Theatre, West End, 18 – 20 March

Some Small Love Story only - The Arts Theatre, West End, 21 – 23 March


Samples of the music are available at:


Some Small Love Story: