New at the Stephen Joseph Theatre

John Barr in The Boy Who Fell Into A Book
John Barr in The Boy Who Fell Into A Book

Alan Ayckbourn directs a new musical version of his 1998 play The Boy Who Fell Into A Book.

The show premieres in the Round at the Stephen Joseph Theatre on Friday (July 18) and runs until August 31, and brings together an amazing musical team and musical theatre cast with contributions ranging from award-winning musicals to West End hits.

Ten-year-old Kevin Carter falls into his book and meets his fictional hero, tough hard-bitten Private Investigator, Rockfist Slim – two hundred and twenty pounds of solid muscle and now only too real.

Together the gallant, incongruous pair, pursued by arch-enemy Monique, set out on the most exciting journey of their lives on a quest to save the world!

The production reunites the team responsible for The Demon Headmaster (National Theatre Studio and UK No. 1 Tour), and sees Ayckbourn collaborate with Paul James, who has written the musical adaptation and lyrics, and composers Cathy Shostak and Eric Angus who have created the music.

Alan Ayckbourn said: “I think they’ve caught the spirit of the play very closely; Paul, Cathy and Eric obviously love the piece and, as a director, I’ll happily hitch a ride along with that sort of enthusiasm.

“It’s a family show - not a children’s show. It’s for anyone who ever secretly read under the bed clothes as a child and who has ever been captivated by a story in a book. In terms of a musical it’s small scale, in that it doesn’t have a cast of hundreds, but I feel with big potential.”

Musical adaptor and lyricist Paul James says: “I think it’s important when writing any musical, particularly a family show, to repeatedly ask questions like ‘Is the plot clear?’ ‘Do the songs move things along?’ ‘Do they sing well?’ And – most important of all – ‘Is it fun?’

Having worked closely with Alan, as both original author and director, having successfully work-shopped the show, and having now assembled such a hugely talented cast, I think we can holler ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!’ And it really is a show for all ages – the kids’ll love the clever stuff, the adults the slapstick.”

The cast features Nicolas Colicos (By Jeeves, SJT; The Bodyguard, Adelphi Theatre) as Rockfist Slim; Evelyn Hoskins (This is My Family, Sheffield Crucible) who plays Kevin; Katie Birtill (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, UK Tour; Dreamboats and Petticoats, West End) as Monique and Mummy Wubbly; Stephen Matthews (The Lion King, Lyceum Theatre) as Red Gareth and Ebeneezer; John Barr (Hairspray, Leicester Curve) as Red Bishop; Natasha J Barnes (Chess, Union Theatre) in four parts including the White Queen.

Later in the season Alan Ayckbourn also directs his 78th play, Roundelay, which can be seen from September 4 to October 4 at the SJT. Tickets for both plays, priced from £10 to £24.50, are available from Box Office on 01723 370541 and online at www.sjt.uk.com