I enjoy most types of shows in the genre of musical theatre, but I do have a particular soft spot for those of a more serious nature. Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Once…these are all musicals which seek to move their audience and take them on a rollercoaster ride of emotion. Drama, tragedy, passion and heartbreak are at the core of all the musicals I love best, but theatre is about more than just musicals of course. I’ve certainly seen more musicals than plays, though I don’t prefer one over the other really, and again, the more hard-hitting productions tend to pack more of a punch with me. Comedy is good. Comedy can be more than good. It doesn’t necessarily leave a long-lasting impression on me though, in the same way that a play that has a more serious tone to it will do.
One production which is soon to appear on the scene embodies much of what I look for in the theatre experience. The stage adaption of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas is set to tour the UK throughout 2015, and débuts at Chichester Festival Theatre on 19th February 2015. Set in the midst of World War I and told through the eyes of 8-year old Bruno, the son of a concentration camp commandant, it centres on the unlikely friendship between Bruno and a Jewish boy on the other side of the fence. A film version was released in 2008, but this stage production is based on the original best-selling novel by John Boynes, published in 2006 and which has since sold millions of copies around the world. It was adapted for the stage by Angus Jackson and features music by Stephen Warbeck, choreography by Lizzi Gee and the direction of Joe Murphy. The play is produced by The Children’s Touring Partnership, led by Fiery Producer, Chichester Festival Theatre and a consortium of regional theatres, and is set to tour the UK until 27th June 2015.
The play spent two years in development, but is now ready to make its world première The full cast for the show was recently announced and includes a child team to share the leading roles of young boys Bruno and Shmuel. Jabez Cheeseman, Cameron Duncan, Finley Wright-Stephens play the role of Bruno, while Tom Hibberd, Colby Mulgrew and Samuel Peterson play Shmuel. Featured in the adult cast are Eva Bell (Eve), Phil Cheadle (Father), Helen Anderson (Grandmother), Eleanor Thorn (Gretal) – Andrew Bone (Herr Liszt), Ed Brody (Kotler/Soldier 4), Rosie Wyatt (Maria), Marianne Oldham (Mother), Robert Styles (Pavel), Kitt Lessner (Soldier 3) and Lisa Baird (Ensemble).
Jonathan Church, Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre, said they were ‘delighted’ to receive the world première of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, while Edward Snape for The Children’s Touring Company spoke of their excitement in regards to this story being told on stage in a way which fit in with their aim to produce and tour innovative, ambitious and engaging large-scale theatrical productions for children and families.
The play moves on to Northampton following its première in Chichester, and will also visit venues in Malvern, Nottingham, Canterbury, Liverpool, Salford, High Wycombe, Kingston, Norwich, Plymouth, Newcastle, Blackpool, Wolverhampton and Coventry, before its final run at the the Cambridge Arts Centre from 23rd-27th June 2015. I’ll be looking to catch it somewhere along its touring schedule as the emotive tale has everything to make it into a theatre experience to remember.
By Julie Robinson: @missjulie25
Thursday 22nd January 2015