Introduction

Fresh from London’s Turbine Theatre, MTFestUK 2021 comes to Birmingham, bringing you the very best in new musical theatre.

This new musical theatre festival, sets out to promote quality artistry, showcasing new musicals to UK audiences with a view to elevating them to full production, and give audiences an insight into the process of creating new work and the art of collaboration.

The 2021 festival line-up includes an exciting and diverse selection of eight new musicals: Far From Heaven, #50days, The Man In the Ceiling, Millennials, HouseFire, Cake, Daisy and Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera).

A huge mix of exciting creative talent is involved in this year’s festival including: Tasha Taylor-Johnson, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Jack McManus, Drew McConie, Caroline Kay, Matt White, Thabo Stuck, Scott Frankel and Poppy Burton Morgan.

Far From Heaven

Cathy Whitaker seems to be the picture-perfect wife and mother in 1957 suburban Connecticut. But roiling beneath the surface, secret longings and forbidden desires cause her world to unravel, with incendiary consequences.

With a lush score that is both jazz-inflected and hauntingly lyrical, Far From Heaven is a powerful story of romance, betrayal, and intolerance, as a woman grapples with her identity in a society on the verge of upheaval.

Based on the Focus Features/Vulcan Productions motion picture written & directed by Todd Haynes.

Book: Richard Greenberg
Music: Scott Frankel
Lyrics: Michael Korie
Director: Matthew White


Credits

Richard Greenberg is an American playwright and  television writer known for his subversively humorous depictions of middle-class American life. He has had more than 25 plays premiere on and off-broadway in New York City and eight at the South Coast Repertory Theatre (Costa Mesa, California), including The Violet Hour, Everett Beekin, and Hurrah at Last. Greenberg is perhaps best known for his 2003 Tony Award winning play, Take Me Out about the conflicts that arise after a Major League Baseball player nonchalantly announces to the media that he is gay. The play premiered in London and ran in New York as the first collaboration between the Donmar Warehouse and New York’s Public Theater. After its Broadway transfer in early 2003, Take Me Out won widespread critical acclaim for Greenberg and numerous prestigious awards.

Scott Frankel worked as a music director, conductor and pianist, on Broadway shows including Into the Woods, Les Misérables, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Rags and Falsettos, and also Off-Broadway on Putting It Together starring Julie Andrews. He accompanied Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep in the film Postcards from the Edge party scene. He then became a musical theatre composer, notably through collaborations with lyricist/librettist Michael Korie. Their musical Doll was workshopped at the University of Houston as part of Stuart Ostrow’s Musical Theatre Lab in 1995. A professional production premiered in Ravinia Festival in a staged reading in 2003, and was further developed at the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab, White Oak, Florida in December 2005.

Their musical Grey Gardens premiered Off-Broadway in 2006, and transferred to Broadway. For Grey Gardens, Frankel received a Tony Award nomination, as well as the ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award and The Frederick Loewe Award for Dramatic Composition. Their musical Happiness opened Off-Broadway in March 2009 Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center, with a book by John Weidman, direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. In 2012, their musical Far from Heaven, starring Kelli O’Hara, premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. The show, adapted from the film by Todd Haynes, subsequently received a production at Playwrights Horizons in 2013.

Most recently, Frankel and Korie wrote the music and lyrics, respectively, for the musical War Paint, about Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden. The musical, with the book by Doug Wright and directed by Michael Greif, premiered at the Goodman Theatre, Chicago, in the summer of 2016 with stars Patti Lupone as Helena Rubinstein and Christine Ebersole as Elizabeth Arden. The musical is based on the 2003 book by Lindy Woodhead and on the 2007 documentary The Powder and the Glory by Ann Carol Grossman and Arnie Reisman. The production transferred to Broadway and opened on April 6, 2017.

Michael Korie is an American librettist and lyricist whose writing for musical theater and opera includes the musicals Grey Gardens and Far From Heaven, and the operas Harvey Milk and The Grapes of Wrath. His works have been produced on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and internationally. His lyrics have been nominated for the Tony Award and the Drama Desk Award, and won the Outer Critics Circle Award. In 2016, Korie was awarded the Marc Blitzstein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

#50days

#50days is a Grime Musical which tells the story of the period when the very foundations of England were shattered. It is December 1641 and King Charles is about to be formally challenged by a handful of MPs and radical commoners, who share the belief that ALL men are born equal. Many in England, now a Protestant country, are enraged by the notion that the French-born Catholic Queen Henrietta and King Charles are ruling over them. One of these critics is John Pym, a Member of Parliament and prominent opponent of Kingship, who issues a challenge to the King’s power.

In a world ruled by men, who are the women in this story? What are they fighting for? Through propaganda and shrewd political manoeuvring, the nation is about to be plunged head first into a conflict that pitted neighbour against neighbour and shattered the very core of our constitution.

Created and written by Thabo Stuck
Musical Supervisor: Duramaney Kamara
Director: Ajjaz Awad

TONY!

TONY! is a reckless reappraisal of the life of former Bad Rumours front man and Britain’s first pop Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The story of how one man went from peace loving, long haired hippy and would-be pop star to warmongering multimillionaire in just a couple of decades. A hilarious tragedy of political intrigue, religion, power and romance that plays fast and loose with the facts, owing as much to Citizen Kane as it does to The Marx Brothers – Karl and Groucho .

Throw in a cast of larger-than-life characters – Cherie Blair, Princess Diana, John Prescott, Peter Mandelson, Alistair Campbell, Ossama Bin Laden, George W Bush, Saddam Hussein, Gordon Brown and of course that dodgy dossier.

All set to rockin’ tunes.

Book and Lyrics by Harry Hill and Steve Brown
Music by Steve Brown
Director: Peter Rowe
Musical Director: Sarah Travis


Credits

Harry Hill has won numerous awards for his stand up comedy and TV Shows, including 3 BAFTAs in a career that has spanned almost 30 years. He also wrote ‘I Can’t Sing!’ The X Factor Musical with his friend Steve Brown.

Composer, lyricist, arranger & record producer Steve Brown has worked with some of the biggest names in British TV, radio and theatre for over 35 years.

Theatre: Spend, Spend, Spend!,  It’s A Wonderful Life, I Can’t Sing,  Magic Goes Wrong

Television: The Goes Wrong Show, This Time With Alan Partridge (BBC), Spitting Image, SM;TV, Dead Ringers, New Tricks, My Parents Are Aliens, Not Going Out & countless others.

Record Production: Seasons  of my  Soul   by Rumer for Atlantic, MOBO  winner LAURA MVULA, Sing to the Moon  for RCA, & others

Steve has had a long term working friendship with Harry Hill completing several UK tours and providing all music on |TV  Burp, The All New Harry Hill Show (ITV), Alien Fun Capsule and Teatime for SKY. He also composed the songs/score on Harry Hill The Movie.

And now this…

The Man in the Ceiling

12 year-old Jimmy Jibbett would rather be a successful cartoonist than be in 7th grade. His father disapproves. His mother is busy. His uncle tries to understand but is too wrapped up trying to write a love song for his next flop musical. Where can Jimmy turn for inspiration and hope? Maybe The Man in the Ceiling can lead him to his true destiny…If only Jimmy would look up!

A collaboration between Jules Feiffer, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning cartoonist and celebrated author, and Tony-nominated composer-lyricist Andrew Lippa, The Man in the Ceiling is an uplifting tale about following your creative passion against all odds.

Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Book by Jules Feiffer

 


Credits

Andrew Lippa is a composer, lyricist, singer, actor, conductor, and record producer. His “Unbreakable” had its world premiere with The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in June 2018 with 300 artists onstage, including himself. In May of 2018, he conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a new production of his and Brian Crawley’s A Little Princess in concert at the Royal Festival Hall to a sold-out crowd of nearly 3,000 people. His hit song “Evil Like Me” appears in Disney’s Descendants. Written for Kristin Chenoweth, the soundtrack hit #1 on the “Billboard 200” album chart, #1 on the iTunes and Billboard soundtrack charts and “Evil Like Me” was certified gold in 2017. He has conducted celebrated pianist Lang Lang and the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra in the world premiere of a commissioned symphonic work for piano, soprano, tenor, children’s chorus, and orchestra. His epic oratorio for men’s chorus, orchestra and soloists, has seen over 30 productions including Disney Hall and Lincoln Center. Lippa’s newest musical, The Man in the Ceiling, based on Jules Feiffer’s book (and co-written with Feiffer) released a world premiere studio album in May of 2019. His obsession with Netflix’s Tiger King yielded two songs/videos in April, 2020 and, for a while, got his mind off the pandemic.

Broadway credits include: music and lyrics for Big Fish; the Tony®-nominated music and lyrics for the Broadway musical The Addams Family directed by Jerry Zaks, as well as the music for Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway play The Farnsworth Invention directed by Des McAnuff. Other musicals include the Drama Desk award-winning musical The Wild Party (book/music/lyrics); John & Jen (music/book); Asphalt Beach (music and lyrics); Life of the Party (a compendium of Lippa’s works/Menier Chocolate Factory); and You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (additional music/lyrics and arrangements).

Awards include Tony® and Grammy® nominations; shared Emmy for Nickelodeon’s The Wonder Pets; SFGMC Vanguard Award; The Drama Desk Award; The Outer Critics Circle Award. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Lippa serves as president of the board of The Dramatists Guild Foundation www.dgf.org

Millennials

Millennials turns up the microphone on the lives, the losses and the frustrations of young people in the modern world. A generation that is so often defined by tabloid headlines, tweets and of course, avocados, pick up the mic and transport us inside their extraordinarily ordinary lives.

Written and composed by Elliot Clay, this powerful and uplifting collection of songs runs the gamut of modern pop-music and sends musical theatre hurtling into the 21st Century.

Music, Book and Lyrics by Elliot Clay
Director: Luke Sheppard


Credits

Elliot Clay is an award-nominated composer, lyricist and actor for musicals, plays and film. He wrote and starred in his debut musical ‘The State of Things‘ (Jack Studio Theatre) and has performed on the West End and UK/International Tours (Million Dollar QuartetPeter PanOliver!The Wizard of OZ).

HouseFire

An Eco Rock Musical

“I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.” – Greta Thunberg 2019

A trio of endangered animals form a rock band to protest against the climate crisis. Leo, the snow leopard lead singer, rages against the annihilation of their world, Ginger the Orangutan, on keys, has her own tale to tell about the traumas of deforestation, while Alan the elephant is keeping time on the drums. But their newly rebranded group ‘HouseFire’ is under threat from their corporate manager getting them to pander to the very capitalist system they want to destabilize.

Entering Britain’s Got Talent is a great way to reach more people with their message, but it puts a strain on their already fractious relationships, and is it all just too little too late… Fierce, frenetic and fun – this gig-theatre musical will set your world on fire.

Book & Lyrics: P Burton-Morgan who also directs
Music Felix Hagan

 


Credits

P Burton-Morgan is a Writer and Director working across musical theatre, plays and opera. Musical Theatre writing credits include Cold Front (MT Fest 2020), In The Willows (Exeter Northcott and UK tour) for which they won the WGGB award for musical theatre bookwriting 2020, Little Mermaid (Theatre By the Lake & UK tour) and Blown Away (Exeter Northcott and UK tour). Other musicals in development include Great Expectations (National Theatre Studio), and The Rhythmics (The Other Palace). Their plays include Wondr (Edinburgh Festival) and Jungle Book (Windsor Theatre Royal, UK & International tour). They have directed over 40 productions to date including Mouthful (Trafalgar Studios), Cosi fan tutte (New Theatre, Oxford), Arab Nights (Soho Theatre and UK tour), Comedy of Errors (Exeter Northcott), As You Like It (Wirksworth Festival) and Gotcha (Riverside Studios). They are the founder and Artistic Director of the mid-scale touring company Metta Theatre, established in 2005.

Cake

Cake combines rap and RnB with 18th century France to retell a story that sparked a revolution. When Marie Antoinette married King Louis, her reputation was already tarnished by gossip. But when she is implicated in a crime to defraud the crown jewellers of a diamond necklace, it is not just her reputation at stake, but the monarchy and France itself.

Music and Lyrics by Jack McManus and Tasha Taylor-Johnson
Book and Lyrics by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm
Director: Drew McOnie

 


Credits

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm was commissioned by The Globe to write Emilia which be- came a sell out in summer 2018 and transferred to the West End at the Vaudeville theatre in 2019. It won three Olivier awards in 2020 including for Best Comedy or Entertainment.

Previous theatre includes Belongings and The Wasp. Current theatre commissions with Headlong, Lyric Hammersmith, Royal Court and Cleanbreak.

She is working with Lucky Chap, Fremantle and Dog Rose Productions, Gaumont and Moonage. She is also adapting her play The Wasp into a screenplay for Paradise City Films.

Tasha Taylor Johnson is a composer, lyricist, writer & performer.

She’s been tipped as ‘One to watch’, Sunday Times, and her work ‘Different, fresh and Original’ by Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer the Opera)

She was awarded the prestigious Cameron Macintosh Resident Composer position at Leicester Curve in 2017 & continues as an Associate Artist there.

Recent theatre credits: Spring Awakening’ (The Young Vic), ‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’, (Curve) ’Cat in the Hat’ (UK tour/ Curve),‘The Wheel’  (Guildhall),’Cotton Fingers’ (National Theatre Wales), ‘Woman & Scarecrow’  (RADA), ’Memoirs of an Asian Casual’  (Curve), The Crucible’  (Curve), ’George’ s Marvellous Medicine’ (Curve), ‘To You’ (National Youth Ballet & Drew McOnie)

For TV & film: ‘Dance with Me’ (The Old Vic) ’Rinderland’ (Channel 4), & ’Clean as You Like’, (Amazon), ’Wearing Thin’  (Short – 2021.)

Her collaborations with the McOnie Company include:‘Good Morning Midnight’ (Jermyn Street Theatre), ’A Ballet, with Love’ (The Royal Albert Hall) & ‘Shine’ (Sadlers Wells).

She releases her own electronic music under the alias Siren Red.

For more info visit tashataylorjohnson.com

Daisy

This story explores several forms of loss, challenges the resilience of a family, and celebrates the healing-power of storytelling. After waking from a coma with no memory of life before her accident, a young woman must try to move on knowing little more than her name: Daisy.

Her enduring passion for writing finds her escaping into the world of stories she creates in her notebook, but this coping mechanism still leaves Daisy feeling as though she can only move forward if she regains memories from her past. She never considers that perhaps some of the memories she’s so desperate to unlock might be even more difficult to accept than her new life without them. What begins as a story of personal struggle soon becomes a family’s shared experience of hardship, loss, and love.

Book, Music and Lyrics by Caroline Kay
Director: Seimi Campbell


Credits

Caroline Kay is a Dublin-born singer-songwriter who graduated with a Masters in Musical Theatre Performance from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. She has performed in musicals, concerts, studio album recordings, workshops, and is also passionate about creating her own work. Caroline’s first original EP, Notes, went straight to #1 in the Irish iTunes Album Charts upon release in 2017, and her second EP,tricks , followed suit in 2019. After producing her own solo gig, Notes & Other Stuff, in Dublin, Cork, London and New York City, she went on to do a number of other solo gigs in London in places like Live at Zedel and The Other Palace.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, Caroline paired up (virtually) with West End Star, David Hunter, and together they wrote, recorded, and produced a Musical Short, The Space Between, which is available to  on YouTube, and available as an EP on all music platforms to download or stream

Caroline hopes to see her original musical, Daisy, fully staged in London in the near future, and her long-term goal for the show it to have it on a Dublin stage where the show is set.

Séimí Campbell is an Irish theatre director, based in London. Graduating from Trinity College Dublin and the Royal Irish Academy of Music, he then studied in the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Ferenc Academy, Hungary, and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, London. Séimí most recently directed Jason Robert Brown’s SONGS FOR A NEW WORLD at The London Palladium – which transfers to the Vaudeville Theatre in February ‘21.

Other recent directing credits include; the UK of Stephen Schwartz’s MY SON PINOCCHIO (Southwark Playhouse), MOZART (Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts), OLIVER! (An Grianan Theatre). Recent assisting credits include COME FROM AWAY (Phoenix Theatre), JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (Barbican), AMOUR (Charing Cross), and the upcoming BREAKFAST ON PLUTO (Associate Director; Donmar Warehouse). He is Artistic Director of Irish Youth Musical Theatre (IYMT), and musical theatre coordinator at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.