Ayckbourn play adapted into musical for Scarborough run

Janie Dee
Janie Dee

Alan Ayckbourn’s 1998 fantasy play The Boy Who Fell Into a Book is being developed into a musical – featuring one of the playwright’s favourite actresses Janie Dee – for a run at the Stephen Joseph Theatre next year.

The Scarborough-based writer’s work is being adapted for the stage by composers Cathy Shostak and Eric Angus, whose previous credits include a musical adaptation of the BBC children’s drama The Demon Headmaster.

Paul James is writing the musical’s book and lyrics, and the production has musical direction by Mark Warman.

The show is currently being workshopped, with Ayckbourn directing.

Dee, previously worked with him on his productions of Woman in Mind and the musical Dreams From a Summerhouse, which was based on Beauty and the Beast.

Shostak said: “After discovering Boy several years ago, I thought the play would work really well as a musical. I contacted my amazing collaborators Eric Angus and Paul James who agreed with my idea. We went to Scarborough last year and played Alan some songs from the show and now here we are – in the rehearsal room with Alan and some brilliant actors working on it.”

Dee revealed her involvement with the production when she took part in the Singular Sensations series at the Charing Cross Theatre.

Speaking at the event, Dee hit back at claims musical theatre performers are not capable of appearing in straight plays.

“It is possible to train to be a dancer, a singer and an actor and have integrity in all three. My agent said once ‘You have got to start turning down this dancing and singing if you want to be taken seriously as an actress’, and I said ‘No, I have worked really hard to dance and sing and I am not going to shut the door on it’. I love it,” she said.

Dee was in the award-winning My Family musical which ran this year at Sheffield and was written by Calendar Girls’ Tim Frith – who started his playwriting career at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.