Musical theatre

Plays

All the Angels

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Handel's Messiah is the world's most popular choral work. But its story begins in the unlikely setting of a room above a pub in Chester, when the great composer, detained by bad weather on his way to a season of concerts in Dublin, invites some local choristers to rehearse excerpts. It is not a success. So begins Handel's struggle to stage the premiere of his masterpiece, confronted by seemingly insurmountable challenges, including the tricky librettist Charles Jennens, the actress Susannah Cibber who he trains to sing the most moving arias, and the mysterious Crazy Crow.

Nick Drake’s musical play All the Angels premiered at Shakespeare’s Globe in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London, in June 2015.

The Beggar's Opera

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Gay’s ‘ballad opera’ set in eighteenth-century London’s underworld is at once a vigorous satire on the moral and financial corruption of a fast-growing commercial society, and a groundbreaking piece of theatre. Combining spoken dialogue with popular songs, The Beggar’s Opera is in effect the first musical. Witty, barbed and fast-moving, the play was a theatrical sensation when it opened in 1728 at the Theatre Royal, London, with the romance between the feisty innocent Polly and the rogue Macheath seizing the popular imagination.

Polly Peachum, daughter of a fence and a thief-taker, has secretly married the notorious highwayman Macheath. Horrified at their daughter throwing herself a way on such a man, Mr and Mrs Peachum plot to extricate Polly from the marriage, as well as to profit by it, by turning in their son-in-law, collecting the reward for doing so, and seeing him hanged. The besotted Polly helps Macheath escape, but he is betrayed by a group of whores and taken to Newgate prison, where he is once again helped to escape, this time by Lucy Lockit, daughter of the prison-keeper, who is pregnant by and betrothed to him. Through their eternal love triangle, Gay explores the pleasures and dangers of romantic and social aspiration, while the double-dealing Mr Peachum embodies the ruthless self-interest of his age and the fine line between respectability and criminality.

Blood Brothers

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A compelling story of friendship, loyalty and fate, Blood Brothers is one of the longest-running and most successful ever West End musicals, as well as one of the most moving.

Twin brothers are separated at birth because their mother cannot afford to keep them both; one of them is given away to a wealthy woman, the other remains with his mother. They become friends and swear to be blood brothers, all the time unaware of their true fraternity. But as they grow older, the two brothers find they can no longer ignore the class difference that divides them, and the love triangle that has dominated their lives erupts into a quarrel. The staggeringly emotional climax of the play questions whether it was destiny, or the inevitable difference of class, that led to the fatal conflict of two brothers who were once so close. Blood Brothers was first performed at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1983.

Bound  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

A tragedy of maritime decline, Bound follows the fortunes of six trawlermen from Devon as they embark on one final voyage. Compelled by the threat of bankruptcy, the ageing fishing trawler The Violet is forced out into treacherous weather. Risking storms, friendships and relationships ashore, will the crew lose more than a way of life?

Bound by Jesse Britton premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2009, where it was awarded a fringe First amongst other awards. It has since toured in the UK and Australia, where it won the Adelaide Advertiser Critics Circle Award 2010.

Brief Encounter

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Your heart dances. The world seems strange and new. You want to laugh and skip and fall forever… You are in love. You are in love with the wrong person. Laura, the respectable suburban wife, and Alec, the idealistic, married doctor, meet in a station buffet, fall passionately in love but are doomed never to find fulfilment.

David Lean's iconic 1945 movie, Brief Encounter, was written by Noël Coward and was based on one of his one-act plays, Still Life, written a decade earlier. This version for the stage was adapted by Emma Rice, Artistic Director of Kneehigh Theatre Company, bringing this timeless tale of joy and heartache into the theatre. Also included within the romantic action are nine songs originally written by Coward.

Kneehigh’s production Brief Encounter was first presented by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Cineworld at the Cinema Haymarket on 2 February 2008.

Cavalcade

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

‘It is a magnificent play in which the note of national pride pervading every scene and every sentence must make each one of us face the future with courage and high hopes’ The Daily Mail, 1931. Such was the reception for Coward’s spectacular pageant when it first appeared at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London. Telling the story of a great swathe of history, from the Boer War, the sinking of the Titanic, World War I and the coming of the Jazz Age, Coward’s great coup de théâtre was to channel these historical moments through the prism of the lives of one Mayfair family.

Although there have been some revivals, no subsequent production of Cavalcade has ever matched the premiere for its scale. As Sheridan Morley writes in his introduction, ‘Cavalcade was a prodigious feat of sheer stage-management . . . a grandiose stage epic in three acts and twenty-two scenes that was to cost an almost unprecedented thirty-thousand pre-war pounds and to keep a cast and backstage crew of three hundred people employed at Drury Lane for more than a year, playing to a total box office take of well over three hundred thousand pounds. Cavalcade was the kind of show of which a latterday Cameron Mackintosh or Andfrew Lloyd Webber would be proud.’

Conversation Piece

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Set in the decades after the French Revolution, Conversation Piece tells the story of Paul, Duc de Chaucigny-Varennes, who has come to Brighton to escape the terrors in France. In his company is Melanie, a dance hall singer whom Paul passes off as his ward and the offspring of his murdered friend. He hopes to marry her off to a member of Brightonian high society; she, however, has other plans and, with the help of her suitor Edward, tries to outmanoeuvre Lady Julia Charteris, in the hope of getting her heart’s desires.

Writing about the original production, the Daily Telegraph said: ‘It was a big occasion before ever the curtain rose . . . It became a great one as soon as Yvonne Printemps appeared . . . Mr Coward shares her triumph. Or, rather, since he is author, composer, producer and chief male actor in this brilliant show, he enjoys a separate triumph all to himself.'

Conversation Piece, a musical comedy, was first performed at His Majesty’s Theatre, London, in 1934.

The Coronation of Poppea

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Coronation of Poppea, freely adapted from the libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello for L'incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi, depicts the triumphant adultery between Poppea and the Roman emperor Nero. Ravenhill updates Tacitus’s scathing portrayal of imperial degeneracy with language which is contemporary, spare and brutally powerful.

This version of the The Coronation of Poppea opened at the King’s Head theatre, Islington, in April 2011, in a production directed by the author.

Donegal

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

The Day family are Irish country-music royalty and Irene is their queen. Her relatives are completely dependent on her success. But as Irene's star fades, the Days are facing financial destruction.

When the heir to her musical throne, Jackie Day, returns from the States with a new girlfriend, resentments simmer. Does Irene have the strength to hold the clan together. And will Jackie save them with the gift of a song?

Frank McGuinness's Donegal premiered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, in October 2016.

audio Dugout III: Warboy (and the Backboard Blues )

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Drawing upon his childhood memories of West Texas, artist, musician and writer Terry Allen has created this magical, multi-layered evening in the tradition of Southern story-telling. As Allen explains, “Dugout is a love story; an investigation into how memory is invented.”

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jo Harvey Allen, Terry Allen, Richard Bowden and Lloyd Maines.

Featuring: Jo Harvey Allen, Terry Allen, Richard Bowden, Lloyd Maines

End of the Rainbow

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

End of the Rainbow is a savagely funny and deeply moving drama, infused with all the glamour and melancholy of stardom.

It is Christmas 1968, and with a six-week booking at London’s famed cabaret restaurant 'Talk of the Town', it looks as though Judy Garland is set to make a comeback. The failed marriages, suicide attempts and addictions are all behind her: at forty-six, with her new fiancé at her side, she seems determined to reclaim her crown as the greatest talent of her generation.

Yet in her suite at the Ritz Hotel, Garland battles with a tornado of drugs and alcohol as the exhausting series of concerts takes its toll. A tough, compelling woman, armed to the teeth with a razor-sharp wit, she finds that happiness continues to elude her.

End of the Rainbow premiered at the Sydney Opera House in 2005.

Gabriel (Adamson)

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

This is noisily Protestant England - the England of William and Mary's Glorious Revolution at the end of a century of civil strife. This is London in the 1690s, the monster city tamed into awe by our only Orpheus: Henry Purcell.

Monarchs, princes, prostitutes, wigmakers, composers, tapsters, musicians, transvestites and watermen jostle for attention in the teeming, unruly world of late seventeenth-century London, where enthralling stories both real and imagined merge and intersect.

Gabriel premiered at Shakespeare's Globe, London, in July 2013 with Alison Balsom, one of the world's finest trumpeters, performing the music of Purcell and Handel.

audio The Goodbye Girl

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In this unique audio adaptation of Neil Simon’s screenplay, Paula McFadden’s a down-on-her-luck actress who’s forced to take in a new roommate – the eccentric, noisy, and generally unpleasant Eliot Garfield– who also happens to be an actor. As their careers and finances hit new lows, their reluctant partnership threatens to turn into something neither one wants. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast recording, starring (in alphabetical order): Ellis Greer and Donna and others; Anna Mathias as multiple characters; Matthew Floyd Miller as Eliot Garfield; Amy Pietz as Paula McFadden; Raini Rodriguez as Lucy; André Sogliuzzo as multiple characters; Inger Tudor as Mrs. Crosby and others; Matthew Wolf as Mark Bodine and others; Adam Wylie as multiple characters Directed by Rosalind Ayres. Recorded live in performance at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater in January 2018.

Hoodoo Love

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Young Toulou has run away from the cotton fields of Mississippi to big city Memphis to make it as a blues singer. When she falls in love with a rambling bluesman, Ace of Spades, she gives into the suggestions of the local madam, Candylady, and conjures up a hoodoo trick to make him fall in love with her back. When her brother Jib, a born-again Christian missionary, arrives in town, Toulou is forced to confront all that she was running away from, and a chain of events with devastating consequences is set in motion.

The first of Katori Hall’s ‘Memphis Plays’, Hoodoo Love is set during the Great Depression, when the memory of slavery, and the slave belief in hoodoo folk magic, is still very much alive. With original music and lyrics by Katori Hall, the play was first produced by Cherry Lane Theatre, New York City in 2007.

audio J. Edgar!

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A sidesplitting musical about one of the most powerful men of the 20th Century. Learn about his secret love life, his need for personal privacy, and his obsession with knowing the private affairs of others. If you weren’t so busy laughing and humming the tunes, the show might upset you!

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Dan Castellaneta, Ethan Glazer, John Goodman, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Guest, Rudy Hornish, John Kapelos, David L. Lander, Tom Leopold, Michael McKean, Marian Mercer, D.W. Moffett, Marnie Mosiman, Judith Owen, Julie Payne and Harry Shearer.

Featuring: Dan Castellaneta, Ethan Glazer, John Goodman, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Guest, Rudy Hornish, John Kapelos, David L. Lander, Tom Leopold, Michael McKean, Marian Mercer, D.W. Moffett, Marnie Mosiman, Judith Owen, Julie Payne, Harry Shearer

John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

John, Paul, George, Ringo . . . and Bert was the first major hit for Willy Russell, one of Britain’s best-loved playwrights. A musical about The Beatles, it won the Evening Standard and London Critics’ awards for Best New Musical of 1974.

Commissioned and directed by Alan Dosser for Liverpool's Everyman Theatre where it opened in May 1974, the critically acclaimed production transferred to the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London in August. At the time, Time Out wrote that it was ‘Funny, incisive, well-acted and makes its points without any arty philosophising’.

Full of Willy Russell’s trademark wit and local Liverpudlian colour, John, Paul, George, Ringo . . . and Bert is a humourous and heart-warming story of Liverpool’s most famous four sons . . . and Bert.

Josephine and I

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Josephine Baker a captivating performer, political activist and international icon, who lived from 1906 to 1975, is brought vividly back to life in this startling debut play from Cush Jumbo. From the ragtime rhythms of St Louis and the intoxicating sounds of 1920s Paris, to present-day London, Josephine and I intertwines the story of a modern-day girl with that of one of the greatest, yet largely forgotten, stars of the twentieth century.

Of the play, the Sunday Times wrote: ‘a short show that, in the best possible sense, leaves you longing for more: more knowledge of its fascinating muse, Josephine Baker; more great parts for its jaw-droppingly talented author and star, Cush Jumbo. but also more time to discuss afterwards the serious points it raises about race and gender, today and in Baker's lifetime . . . a brave, exhilarating 100 minutes that redefine Josephine as less flapper, more rights-fighter, and pose important questions about her legacy.'

Josephine and I centres on the legendary American entertainer and her impact on a contemporary young woman.

In the original production, live music combined with dance to bring to life the contemporary legacy of a woman Ernest Hemingway described as "the most sensational woman anyone ever saw, and ever will." It premiered at The Bush Theatre, London on 12 July 2013.

Junkyard  

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Jack Thorne's Junkyard is a play, with music by Stephen Warbeck, about the creation of a playground out of junk. It was first performed at Bristol Old Vic Theatre on 2 March 2017 (previews from 24 February), in a co-production between Headlong, Bristol Old Vic, Rose Theatre Kingston and Theatr Clwyd.

The play's action takes place in a playground in Lockleaze, Bristol, in 1979. A group of kids from a Bristol school, seen as misfits and disregarded simply for coming from troubled backgrounds, are invited by a man named Rick to join him in building an adventure playground on a plot the headmaster has earmarked for the new maths block. Initially suspicious of the project, they nonetheless hang about watching Rick at work, feigning lack of interest but making bonds. By the end of the summer, they would die to defend the playground, and one of them almost does.

In an Introduction to the published script, Jack Thorne writes that the play was inspired by his own father and the 'junk playground he built with some kids at Lockleaze School in Bristol... But Junkyard is not about my dad... Rather,

it’s an attempt to walk the high wire he walked – and to tell the truth about the type of kids who built these playgrounds, the places they come from, the lives they lead.'

The premiere production was directed by Jeremy Herrin and designed by Chiara Stephenson. It was performed by Scarlett Brookes, Calum Callaghan (as Rick), Josef Davies, Erin Doherty, Kevin McMonagle, Enyi Okoronkwo, Seyi Omooba, Lisa Palfrey, Jack Riddiford and Ciaran Alexander Stewart

La Belle Vivette

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

La Belle Vivette is Michael Frayn’s reworking of Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène (1864). Frayn eschews the original’s setting in Ancient Sparta in order to give his adaptation a metatheatrical twist, creating an opera about the creation of an opera in Second Empire Paris in the 1860s.

A parody of the Helen-Paris love story from classical mythology, Frayn’s operetta has the lovely Vivette as the face that launched a thousand ships. Kept under tight control by her protector (a pseudo-Menelaus), Monsieur Ploc, she nevertheless falls in love with the smitten new composer, Monsieur Berger. Secrecy, mistaken identity and chaos ensue, and the opera ends with the ‘perfect chance to start / The Franco-Prussian war!’

First performed at the English National Opera in 1995, La Belle Vivette starred Lesley Garrett and Neill Archer as Vivette and Berger.

London Calling!

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

'A sketch for a revue must be quick, sharp, funny (or sentimental) and to the point, with a good, really good black-out line. Whether the performers are naked or wearing crinolines is quite beside the point; the same rule applies'.

Thus did Noël Coward describe the ingredients for a successful revue sketch; in the 1920s and 1930s he mastered and defined the art of the revue – short and often topical or satirical sketches, many of which were a lead-in to a song. He started producing sketches for some of the most famous revues of the period.

London Calling! was first presented by André Charlot at the Duke of York's Theatre, London, on 4 September 1923. It ran for 316 performances.

London Road

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

London Road is a verbatim-theatre musical with book and lyrics by Alecky Blythe and music by Adam Cork. It is about the impact on the community around London Road in Ipswich of the series of murders carried out there by Steve Wright in 2006, and the frenzied media interest that ensued.

It was developed by the National Theatre, London, and first performed there in the Cottesloe auditorium on 14 April 2011 (previews from 7 April).

The musical traces the impact of the murders on the residents of London Road over a period from December 2006 until July 2008. The community had struggled for years with the soliciting and kerb-crawling that they frequently encountered in the area. As Steve Wright, the occupant of number 79, was arrested, charged and then convicted of the murders, residents grappled with the media frenzy and what it meant to be at the epicentre of this tragedy.

The book and lyrics are based on Alecky Blythe's extensive recorded interviews with the real residents of London Road, and composer Adam Cork’s score is a response to the melodic and rhythmic speech patterns captured on those recordings.

The National Theatre premiere was directed by Rufus Norris and designed by Katrina Lindsay. The cast was Clare Burt, Rosalie Craig, Kate Fleetwood, Hal Fowler, Nick Holder, Claire Moore, Michael Shaeffer, Nicola Sloane, Paul Thornley, Howard Ward and Duncan Wisbey.

Critical reaction was generally favourable with the Evening Standard describing it as ‘a startling, magically original success’, and Time Out declaring that 'this is something very new for the musical form, a powerful, beautiful and unsettling articulation of the ambivalence that underpins all communities'. Less enthusiastically, Brian Logan in The Guardian reported that 'the inarticulacy gets frustrating' and complained that 'the conventionally dramatic parts of this story are [often] happening offstage'.

London Road won the 2011 Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical and the production was revived in the National Theatre's larger Olivier auditorium with performances from 28 July 2012. This time the critical response was even more favourable, with Michael Billington in The Guardian reporting that 'This miraculously innovative show finds a new way of representing reality [and] opens up rich possibilities for musical theatre'.

A feature film version of the musical, written by Alecky Blythe and again directed by Rufus Norris, was released in June 2015. It starred Olivia Colman, Anita Dobson, Tom Hardy and the entire original cast of the National Theatre production.

The Monster in The Hall

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Duck Macatarsney cares for her biker dad, Duke, whose MS is getting worse. Duke is a spliff-smoking (for medicinal reasons you understand), bike-riding, heavy-metal- and horror-movie-loving, pizza-eating widower who has brought up Duck since the death of her mum in a crash. The two of them are just about surviving when one morning the Duke wakes up blind and the Duck hears Social Services are coming to take her away.

The Monster in the Hall follows Duck as she tries to protect her world from the terrifying prospect of change.

The Monster in the Hall premiered at the Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, in autumn 2010, and was staged at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh in 2011 as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

audio Monticello

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A timely and hauntingly beautiful new opera with libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winner Leroy Aarons and score by accomplished composer Glenn Paxton. Scandal erupts in the White House - and in the national press - when Thomas Jefferson's longtime love affair with his slave mistress Sally Hemings is revealed.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Shana Blake Hill, Annette Daniels, Cynthia Jansen, Christopher Schuman, Haqumai Sharpe and Michael Paul Smith. Composed by Leroy Aarons, libretto by Glenn Paxton.

Featuring: Shana Blake Hill, Annette Daniels, Cynthia Jansen, Christopher Schuman, Haqumai Sharpe, Michael Paul Smith

A Mouthful of Birds

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

A Mouthful of Birds is a collaboratively written theatre piece by Caryl Churchill and David Lan, combining text and dance to explore the nature of madness, possession and violence. It was inspired by Euripides’ Bacchae. The play was first performed in association with Joint Stock Theatre Company at Birmingham Repertory Theatre on 27 November 1986 and opened at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 27 November 1986.

The play consists of 32 short vignettes relating to the theme of madness and possession. Lena is a mother who hears voices commanding her to drown her baby. A new spirit guide is taunting voodoo practitioner Marcia whilst Yvonne is a desperate alcoholic. Meanwhile, businessman Paul falls inexplicably and suddenly in love with a pig. A female prison warder bemoans the appearance of a new prisoner who is killing all her female inmates using magic, while Doreen is suffering from grotesque delusions. Herculine Barbin, played by a women but dressed as a man, delivers a monologue at the start of Act Two, while Dionysos, played by a man in a white petticoat, performs a series of dances that punctuate the action.

A Mouthful of Birds was developed in workshop with Joint Stock Theatre Company over a period of twelve weeks. As Caryl Churchill explains in the Introduction to Plays: Three, 'Ian Spink (choreographer) worked with the company continuously, making some material before any text was written, and some to fit specifically into scenes that were written to have dance in them.'

The Joint Stock production was directed by Ian Spink and Les Waters, and designed by Annie Smart. The cast included Tricia Kelly, Dona Croll, Christian Burgess, Vivienne Rochester, Philippe Giraudeau, Stephen Goff, Marjorie Yates and Amelda Brown.

Mr Puntila and His Man Matti

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Written in 1940 during Brecht’s brief exile in Finland, Puntila is one of his greatest creations – to be ranked as a character alongside Galileo and Mother Courage. A hard-drinking Finnish landowner, Puntila suffers from a divided personality – when drunk he is human and humane; when sober, surly and self-centred.

Oscillating unsteadily between these two poles, Puntila plays havoc with his workmen, his women, his daughter’s marital arrangements and the loyalty of his sardonic chauffeur, Matti.

Mr Puntila and his Man Matti contains some of the best comedy Brecht wrote for the theatre. It was first staged in Zurich in 1948 and a year later was the first production of the newly formed Berliner Ensemble.

This translation by John Willett is accompanied by Brecht’s own notes and relevant texts, as well as an extensive introduction and commentary by John Willett and Ralph Manheim, editors of Brecht’s collected plays in English.

The Muddy Choir  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

It's November 1917 and the Third Battle of Ypres is lurching towards its bloody conclusion. Young soldiers Will, Robbie and Jumbo are thrust into a landscape starkly different to the playing fields and estates of their Sunderland home. When the trio's singing causes a disturbance up the line, they face unwelcome attention from their commanding officers. Is music their ticket away from the front, as Robbie dreams, or will the passion it brings about prove more dangerous than bullets and gas?

The Muddy Choir is a story about boys growing up and the humanising power of music. The play, which includes period songs, tells the story of three young boys serving with the Durham Light Infantry in 1917.

Marking the centenary of the First World War, Jesse Briton's The Muddy Choir was first performed in a UK tour in 2014 produced by Theatre Centre.

Narvik

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Present day. Liverpool. All alone, an old man falls in a basement and loses consciousness.

World War II. Norway. A young sailor with a heart full of hope, longing and courage falls in love.

A Liverpudlian man and a Norwegian woman are pulled together and torn apart by war as the events of one summer cause ripples across an ocean of time.

A play with songs, Narvik by Lizzie Nunnery premiered at the Liverpool Playhouse Studio in September 2015 in a Box of Tricks production and was revived for a UK tour in January 2017.

Once

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Based on the 2006 film written and directed by John Carney, Once is a musical with a book by Enda Walsh and music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (who both starred in the original film). The musical was originally developed at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in April 2011; it was first performed at New York Theatre Workshop on 15 November 2011.

The musical is performed with an onstage group of musicians and singers who are already mid-session as the audience enters. The narrative action follows that of the film: when an Irish busker, 'Guy', and a young Czech mother, 'Girl', meet through a shared love of music, their songwriting sparks a deep connection and a tender, longing romance that neither of them could have expected.

The New York Theatre Workshop production was directed by John Tiffany with movement by Steven Hoggett. It was designed by Bob Crowley. The cast included Steve Kazee as Guy and Cristin Milioti as Girl.

The production subsequently transferred to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, New York, on 18 March 2012, where it won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Book.

Once received its European premiere at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, on 22 February 2013, before transferring to the Phoenix Theatre, London, on 9 April 2013 (previews from 16 March). The cast included Declan Bennett as Guy and Zrinka Cvitešić as Girl.

In his Author's Note to the published edition (Nick Hern Books, 2013), Walsh writes 'The story of Once existed in movie form but needed its own stage style, and also its own specific stage language and pace. Really the key to that was the 'Girl' character, who, on page one, became the driving force, the idiosyncratic swagger of the piece, the person who would change everything'.

On With the Dance

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

'A sketch for a revue must be quick, sharp, funny (or sentimental) and to the point, with a good, really good black-out line. Whether the performers are naked or wearing crinolines is quite beside the point; the same rule applies'.

Thus did Noël Coward describe the ingredients for a successful revue sketch; in the 1920s and 1930s he mastered and defined the art of the revue – short and often topical or satirical sketches, many of which were a lead-in to a song. He started producing sketches for some of the most famous revues of the period.

On with the Dance was first presented by Charles B. Cochran at the London Pavilion, on 30 April 1925. It ran for 229 performances.

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Young, lost and out of control, a bunch of Catholic schoolgirls go wild for a day in the big city, the singing competition a mere obstacle in the way of sex, sambuca and a night back home with the submarine crew in Mantrap.

Funny, sad and raucously rude, Lee Hall's musical play Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, adapted from Alan Warner's novel The Sopranos, premiered at the Traverse Theatre in August 2015, in a production by the National Theatre of Scotland and Live Theatre.

The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See …

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Owl and the Pussycat want to get married – but they’re in the middle of the sea! They reach the land where the Bong Trees grow, and alight to find a vicar and a ring. Over the course of their seach, they meet a whole host of characters, including the Dong with the Luminous Nose, who has lost his Jumbly girl at sea, the lively Quangle Wangle, the timid Runcible Spoon, the eccentric Professor Bosh, the grumpy Pig and the absent-minded Turkey. Will the Owl and the Pussycat have their dream wedding with their new friends before they all get gobbled up by the Plum Pudding Flea?

Based on the nonsense verse of Edward Lear, David Wood and Sheila Ruskin’s pantomime, The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See . . . , was first produced at the Swan Theatre, Worcester in 1968, before transferring to the Jeanetta Cochrane Theatre, London the following year, with David Wood as director.

audio Pericles: Prince of Tyre

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

This musical audio adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless tale opens when our hero is at the palace of Antioch with King Antiochus to solve the riddle that will win the King’s daughter’s hand in marriage. They are surrounded by the heads of men who have died trying before him. Pericles solves the riddle, learning the terrible truth about the incestuous relationship between the Princess and the King. Pericles flees Antioch, fearing Antiochus’ wrath.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Akuyoe, Phyllis Applegate, Patti Austin, David Downing, Judyanne Elder, Bennet Guillory, Rif Hutton, Bob Devin Jones, Ted Lange, Eugene Lee, Carl Lumbly, Don Reed, Michele Lamar Richards, Don Willis

Singers: Mary Bond Davis, Edie Lehmann and Raymond Patterson.

Featuring: Akuyoe, Phyllis Applegate, Patti Austin, David Downing, Judyanne Elder, Bennet Guillory, Rif Hutton, Bob Devin Jones, Ted Lange, Eugene Lee, Carl Lumbly, Don Reed, Michele Lamar Richards, Don Willis. Singers: Mary Bond Davis, Edie Lehmann, Raymond Patterson

Playing from the Heart

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Commissioned by Polka Theatre and nominated for TMA's Best Children's Play award, this is a poetic yet gritty piece exploring the trials of the young Evelyn Glennie to become a percussionist despite her profound deafness. It provides an opportunity for movement, music and text to be combined in performance. For eight years and over.

The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Insect Committee won’t take any notice of complaints against the Big Ones’ using insect spray to clear Slug, Greenfly and Maggot off their garden plants, so the injured parties decide it’s time to take the matter into their own hands. The plotters down in Cabbage Patch Corner plan to ruin the garden for the Big Ones, by eating all the vegetation and capturing the other insects. Glow Worm, Ladybird, Bumblebee, Red Admiral and Ant must work together to break free of their trap and stop the plotters from wrecking the garden before they all lose their homes. Can their community reunite before it’s too late?

A lively show of song and dance, The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner was first produced for the Christmas season at the Swan Theatre, Worcester in 1970, before transferring to the Shaw Theatre, London the following year.

'Red Peppers'

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A lovingly cynical tribute to the music hall, ’Red Peppers’ features a performing couple whose onstage choreography and off-stage marriage leave something to be desired.

Lily and George are still doing the same venerable routine of lamely comic songs and hackneyed patter that George’s parents were doing before them, and as they change out of their sailor costumes after a disastrous performance, they snap and scrap in a comic but sympathetic picture of variety show life.

’Red Peppers’ is a short play from Tonight at 8.30, originally starring Gertrude Lawrence and Coward himself, conceived by Coward as an antidote to the boredom of a long run of the same script. It is a sequence of ten plays to be performed by the same cast in sets of three, alternating matinees and evenings, ranging from farce to melodrama to romantic comedy.

After touring, Tonight at 8.30 was produced at the Phoenix Theatre in London in 1936.

Red Red Shoes

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Commissioned by Unicorn Theatre for Children and The Place, this play is based on Hans Christian Andersen's well-known tale The Red Shoes. It uses dance, music and drama to explore the inner world of a traumatised child fleeing war in Eastern Europe, powerfully dramatising a life and death conflict. For nine years and over.

Save the Human

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Save the Human, we see a future where human beings, having destroyed their world with war and pollution, have become an inferior species. Now, animals are in charge. Becky Bear and her family even have a pet human, Norman. When Norman is captured by H.A.R.M., the Human Analysis and Research Ministry, Becky launches a campaign to ‘Save the Human’. She gathers more and more support from her fellow animals worldwide in her peaceful protest, but a few of her schoolfriends break away from the campaign and free all the humans being held in the H.A.R.M. labs for testing. As the humans seek revenge, Becky and her friends are left contemplating if humans and animals can ever live together successfully.

Save the Human is based on a story by Tony Husband and David Wood. It was first produced at the Cambridge Arts Theatre in 1990.

Set to Music

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

'A sketch for a revue must be quick, sharp, funny (or sentimental) and to the point, with a good, really good black-out line. Whether the performers are naked or wearing crinolines is quite beside the point; the same rule applies'.

Thus did Noël Coward describe the ingredients for a successful revue sketch; in the 1920s and 1930s he mastered and defined the art of the revue – short and often topical or satirical sketches, many of which were a lead-in to a song. He started producing sketches for some of the most famous revues of the period.

Set to Music was first presented by John C. Wilson at the Music Box Theatre, New York, on 18 January 1936. It ran for 129 performances.

The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petty Bourgeoisie: Ballet

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petty Bourgeoisie two sisters, both named Annie, make their way from Louisiana to Los Angeles and back, as one sister’s success as a starlet and desired woman (in tandem with her sister’s attendance as manager and guide) are tracked through the seven deadly sins of Sloth, Pride, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Avarice and Envy.

Written in exile in May 1933, a few months after Adolf Hitler had come to power in Germany, it was written when, according to John Willett, ‘Brecht joined Weill in Paris . . . and supplied a libretto which was essentially a cycle of songs for [Lotte] Lenya in the old pseudo-American vein.’

This translation by the poets Chester Kallman and W. H. Auden was first published in 1961.

Shadow Play

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Victoria and Simon’s marriage isn’t going very well, and they’re both trying not to mind. After an anxious evening at the theatre, Victoria takes some sleeping pills to calm herself and drowsily slips into reminiscences. The play trips back into their past of lilting romance and blissful adoration, with an innovative blurring of past and present: a fascinating and infatuated dream.

Shadow Play is a short piece from the Tonight at 8.30 cycle, conceived by Coward as an antidote to the boredom of a long run of the same script. It is a sequence of ten plays to be performed by the same cast in sets of three, alternating matinées and evenings, ranging from farce to melodrama to romantic comedy.

After touring, Tonight at 8.30 was produced at the Phoenix Theatre in London in 1936.

Sigh No More

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

'A sketch for a revue must be quick, sharp, funny (or sentimental) and to the point, with a good, really good black-out line. Whether the performers are naked or wearing crinolines is quite beside the point; the same rule applies'.

Thus did Noël Coward describe the ingredients for a successful revue sketch; in the 1920s and 1930s he mastered and defined the art of the revue – short and often topical or satirical sketches, many of which were a lead-in to a song. He started producing sketches for some of the most famous revues of the period.

Sigh No More was first presented by John C. Wilson and H. M. Tennent Ltd at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, on 22 August 1945. It ran for 213 performances.

Sleeping Beauty

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Sleeping Beauty is driven by the notion of duality. Everything and everyone in the play has a complementary aspect; King and Queen, castle and forest, bright witch and dark witch. Gryff, half-dragon, half-human is the physical embodiment of the idea of duality and is at war with himself. ‘Hovering deliciously between the scary and fairytale, this is a show with fire in its belly and bewitching theatre for anyone over six.' Time Out

The Sum

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Eve's been doing the maths her whole life. But when the squeeze comes, how do you balance a life that doesn't add up and a family that refuses to read the bottom line?

A play with songs about searching for the magic formula in hard times, The Sumpremiered at Liverpool Everyman in May 2017.

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)  

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A fun, silly and sad show for anyone whose brain isn't always on their side. Sally's a happy person. She doesn't let little things get her down and almost never cries. But she's got an illness. It makes her feel like she isn't the person she wants to be....But she doesn't want anyone to know about it. Written by Olivier Award-winner Jon Brittain with original music by Matthew Floyd Jones this new musical comedy mixes storytelling, live music and sketch comedy. 

Swallows and Amazons

Nick Hern Books
Type: Text

Helen Edmundson's stage adaptation of Arthur Ransome's 1930 novel, Swallows and Amazons, with songs by Neil Hannon, was first performed at the Bristol Old Vic on 1 December 2010. The production was remounted by the National Theatre in association with the Children’s Touring Partnership at the Vaudeville Theatre in London’s West End, with performances from 15 December 2011 and a subsequent national tour.

The stage version begins in the attic of an old house, where Titty, an old woman, comes across some old photographs while dusting. As the photographs spring into life, and the duster is transformed into a parrot called Polly, Titty is transported to the Lake District in the summer of 1929 to relive the adventures of her childhood along with John, Susan and Roger; Nancy and Peggy, the self-proclaimed Amazon Pirates; and the dastardly Captain Flint.

In a production note included in the published text, Helen Edmundson writes: 'Imagination is at the very centre of Swallows and Amazons. The children in the story are given the freedom to act out an ambitious, enthralling, imaginative game. And that proved to be the key to this adaptation, and to the staging of it. No need for real boats on real water, no need for owls and cormorants, no need, even, for children (they were played by adults in the first production, although I would love to see children perform it).'

The Bristol Old Vic production was directed by Tom Morris, with movement by Toby Sedgwick and set and costume design by Robert Innes Hopkins. The cast was Celia Adams, Amy Booth-Steel, Rosalie Craig, Akiya Henry, Stuart McLoughlin, Stewart Wright, Alice Barclay, Trevor Michael Georges, Fionn Gill, Pieter Lawman, Richard Standing and Kyra Williams.

Ten Plagues

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

London is infected. The dead fall in the streets. As the plague pits fill, the people of London struggle to maintain a society in the face of overwhelming mortality. Based on eye-witness accounts from 1665 and drawing poetic parallels with modern epidemics, Ten Plagues relates one man’s journey through a city in crisis.

Told entirely through a series of songs, Ten Plagues explores humanity’s struggle with sickness and death and celebrates our capacity for survival.

Ten Plagues was first performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, on 1 August 2011.

This Year of Grace!

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

'A sketch for a revue must be quick, sharp, funny (or sentimental) and to the point, with a good, really good black-out line. Whether the performers are naked or wearing crinolines is quite beside the point; the same rule applies'.

Thus did Noël Coward describe the ingredients for a successful revue sketch; in the 1920s and 1930s he mastered and defined the art of the revue – short and often topical or satirical sketches, many of which were a lead-in to a song. He started producing sketches for some of the most famous revues of the period.

This Year of Grace! was first presented by Charles B. Cochran at the London Pavilion, on 22 March 1928. It ran for 316 performances.

The Threepenny Opera (Modern Classic)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Brecht’s adaptation of John Gay’s eighteenth century The Beggar’s Opera anatomises bourgeois capitalist society with a sharp cocktail of comic satire, musical profanity and social criticism.

First staged in 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin, the musical is set in the seething criminality and desperate romanticism of mock-Victorian Soho. Peachum is a racketeer who controls, exploits and outfits London’s beggars, and has turned pitiable misery into an art form. He is horrified to discover his daughter Polly has married the notorious criminal Macheath, or Mac the Knife.

Under pressure from Peachum, the Chief of Police betrays his friendship with Macheath, who is arrested in the middle of a song in a brothel. Despite the efforts of his adoring wife and equally adoring fiancée, Macheath is condemned to hang, and the play is only diverted to a comic ending by Peachum’s call for a deus ex machina.

With Kurt Weill's unforgettable music – one of the earliest and most successful attempts to introduce jazz to the theatre – Brecht’s revolutionary satire became a popular hit throughout the western world.

The Threepenny Opera (Student Edition)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

This student edition includes in-depth commentary, notes and questions for study to contextualise the work and allow students expand their understanding of Brecht's classic play.

Brecht’s adaptation of John Gay’s eighteenth century The Beggar’s Opera anatomises bourgeois capitalist society with a sharp cocktail of comic satire, musical profanity and social criticism.

First staged in 1928 at the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in Berlin, the musical is set in the seething criminality and desperate romanticism of mock-Victorian Soho. Peachum is a racketeer who controls, exploits and outfits London’s beggars, and has turned pitiable misery into an art form. He is horrified to discover his daughter Polly has married the notorious criminal Macheath, or Mac the Knife.

Under pressure from Peachum, the Chief of Police betrays his friendship with Macheath, who is arrested in the middle of a song in a brothel. Despite the efforts of his adoring wife and equally adoring fiancée, Macheath is condemned to hang, and the play is only diverted to a comic ending by Peachum’s call for a deus ex machina.

With Kurt Weill's unforgettable music – one of the earliest and most successful attempts to introduce jazz to the theatre – Brecht’s revolutionary satire became a popular hit throughout the western world.

audio Tradition!

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Since it first opened on Broadway in September, 1964, Fiddler on the Roof has constantly been onstage somewhere, including five Broadway revivals, four productions on London's West End and thousands of schools, army bases and countries from Argentina to Japan. Barbara Isenberg interviewed the men and women behind the original production, the film and significant revivals-- Harold Prince, Sheldon Harnick, Joseph Stein, Austin Pendleton, Joanna Merlin, Norman Jewison, Topol, Harvey Fierstein and more-- to produce a lively, popular chronicle of the making of Fiddler. Published in celebration of Fiddler's 50th anniversary, Tradition! is the book for everyone who loves Fiddler and can sing along with the original cast album.

The Villains' Opera

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

Under the cover of his South London pub, Peachum plies a successful trade in small-time scams. But his world is shattered when the charismatic villain, Macheath, not only plans to marry his daughter, Polly, but to move into dangerous levels of criminal activity.

In Nick Dear's contemporary version of Gay's The Beggars' Opera, we are shown a modern London teeming with petty thieves, gangland hoods, corrupt politicians and bent coppers.

The Villans' Opera premiered at the National Theatre, London, in April 2000.

Wind Resistance  

Faber and Faber
Type: Text

An immersive musical essay. A meditation on sanctuary. A moor walker’s journal. A personal memoir of maternity. An archaeology of flight science and football, medieval medicine and compassion. A wonder tale.

Wind Resistance is co-produced with the Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and was originally presented in association with Edinburgh International Festival 2016, supported through the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund.

Words and Music

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

'A sketch for a revue must be quick, sharp, funny (or sentimental) and to the point, with a good, really good black-out line. Whether the performers are naked or wearing crinolines is quite beside the point; the same rule applies'.

Thus did Noël Coward describe the ingredients for a successful revue sketch; in the 1920s and 1930s he mastered and defined the art of the revue – short and often topical or satirical sketches, many of which were a lead-in to a song. He started producing sketches for some of the most famous revues of the period.

Words and Music was first presented by Charles B. Cochran at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on 16 September 1932. It ran for 164 performances.

audio Working

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The first revised and updated version of this 1970’s cult classic. A rousing musical with a cast of twenty, Working is for anyone who has ever punched a clock, a cow or a supervisor - or wanted to.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Eileen Barnett, Orson Bean, Harry Groener, Kaitlin Hopkins, Michael Kostroff, Kenna Ramsey, Vickilyn Reynolds, Vincent Tumeo and B.J. Ward.

Featuring: Eileen Barnett, Orson Bean, Harry Groener, Kaitlin Hopkins, Michael Kostroff, Kenna Ramsey, Vickilyn Reynolds, Vincent Tumeo, B.J. Ward

A stage entertainment or film that tells a story using a mixture of dialogue, songs, and dance routines. Probably the single most impressive contribution made by Broadway to the modern theatre, the musical developed from many sources, including vaudeville, revue, melodrama, and operetta.

The first work to combine these influences to create a recognizably new genre was William Wheatley’s spectacular ballet-melodrama The Black Crook, first produced in New York in 1866. George Edwardes’ In Town, produced at his old Gaiety Theatre, London, in 1892, is usually considered the first British musical. Edwardes developed a highly successful formula that involved the use of a sketchy plot as a framework for memorable songs and expensive production numbers featuring attractive chorus girls.

A stage entertainment or film that tells a story using a mixture of dialogue, songs, and dance routines. In the early 20th century US musicals remained heavily indebted to the tradition of European operetta. After World War I, however, a more energetic and sophisticated, but still essentially lightweight, type of show was pioneered by such writers as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwin brothers, and Rodgers and Hart. In 1928 Jerome Kern’s Show Boat gave a new prominence to plot and demonstrated that the musical could encompass more serious themes.

These developments were taken further in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s landmark production Oklahoma! (1943). The same combination of an exciting plot, memorable songs, vigorous professional dancing, and extravagant costumes and sets characterized their subsequent hits Carousel (1945), and South Pacific (1949). The tradition they had established was continued by Lerner and Loewe in international successes such as My Fair Lady (1956) and Camelot (1960). Other hits of the 1950s and 1960s included West Side Story (1957), Hello Dolly! (1963), Fiddler on the Roof (1964) and Cabaret (1966).

In the late 1960s and 1970s the tradition of the classic Broadway musical appeared to decline. The only important US writer to continue in the genre was Stephen Sondheim, whose sophisticated and idiosyncratic works won critical praise but lacked popular appeal. The main development of this period was the advent of the rock musical, as represented by Hair (1967) and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (1968), and Jesus Christ Superstar. In the 1970s and late 1980s Lloyd Webber led a revival of the large-scale spectacular musical with a series of shows that proved immensely successful on both sides of the Atlantic: these included Evita (1978), Cats (1981), Phantom of the Opera (1986), and Sunset Boulevard (1992). The blockbuster musicals of this era also include the Cameron Mackintosh productions Les Misérables (1985) and Miss Saigon (1987), both by the French team of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. A more recent trend has been the creation of a stage show from an already familiar corpus of hit songs, as with the hugely successful Abba musical Mamma Mia! (2001), or from a well-loved film, as with Mel Brooks’s The Producers (2004) or Billy Elliot (2005).

from Jonathan Law, ed., The Methuen Drama Dictionary of the Theatre (London, 2011).