New Cole Porter musical premieres in King’s Head season

Published April 17, 2008

The King’s Head theatre has announced a 2008 season packed with premieres. The season, the first in a decade that the Islington theatre is able to produce in its entirety, features four musical world premieres including Cole Porter’s The Black And White Ball. Playing alongside the musicals are the world premieres of Grand Slam by Lloyd Evans, The Shadow Master adapted from JM Barrie’s Dear Brutus and the UK premiere of David Gow’s Cherry Docs.

The season opens in the newly refurbished theatre – now with an increased capacity of 135 on raked, padded bench seating – with the surprising world premiere of new Porter musical The Black And White Ball, a musical mystery concerning a 20-year-old murder. This new musical was created at the behest of the Porter estate, which commissioned Warner Brown to write a new book to accompany existing music. The resulting musical is premiered under the direction of Matthew White, who previously directed the Menier Chocolate Factory’s successful production of Little Shop Of Horrors, between 25 March and 4 May.

Joining The Black And White Ball in the King’s Head season are new musicals Betwixt, Street Magic and Godiva.

Betwixt (6 May-22 Jun) features book, music and lyrics by Ian McFarlane and tells parallel stories set in the real world and the world of In-Between, where fantasy novelist Bailey Howard and friend Cooper Fitzgerald are transported, fulfilling an ancient prophecy.

Street Magic (21 Oct-7 Dec) is based on a true story and follows the daughter of a Brixton brothel owner. On her 13th birthday, she discovers both the wonder of young love and the horror of prostitution. The piece began life when Brett Kahr (music & lyrics) was asked to compose a song for the charity Kids & Co. Through collaboration with Lisa Forrell (book & direction) it has since evolved into a musical.

Though the majority of Vivan Ellis’s musicals were premiered between 1925 and 1958, Godiva (9 Dec 08-25 Jan 09) has never been given a full production. Featuring a soundtrack of lutes and debauched singing it tells the old tale of a woman, a horse and very few clothes.

Like the season’s musicals, the straight plays are a mixture of new and old with a twist.

New comes in the form of the world premiere of Evans’s Grand Slam, a comedy about a failed British tennis player and her hired bodyguard. Evans, theatre critic for The Spectator, has previously written A Right Royal Farce with fellow critic Toby Young. Grand Slam (24 Jun-27 Jul) will be shown during Wimbledon fortnight, when pre-show matches will be screened in the pub and the bar will serve Pimms and strawberries and cream.

Also brand new is the UK premiere of Cherry Docs, which follows a Jewish lawyer hired to defend a violent skinhead accused of a racist murder. Gow’s two-hander, which plays between 9 September and 19 October, examines racism, class and economic disadvantage in the 21st century.

A world premiere, but based on JM Barrie’s Dear Brutus, The Shadow Master (29 Jul-7 Sep) is a tragi-comic social satire. In an odd old house a group of people meet for a summer party. Stranger than the house is the eerie wood which can only be entered on Midsummer Night. It being that very eve, the guests enter the forest for a night that will reveal much more than the second chance they all secretly long for. When The Shadow Master has completed its run at the King’s Head, it will move to a film studio, where it will be shot as a movie.

MA