The St James Theatre is taking a tuneful turn for its forthcoming spring season with premieres of two musical offerings – acclaimed play with music The Pianist Of Willesden Lane and new musical Miss Atomic Bomb – and a rare revival of Charlotte Keatley’s My Mother Said I Never Should.
The Pianist Of Willesden Lane will receive its UK premiere from 20 January to 27 February, kicking off the season.
Based on Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen’s The Children Of Willesden Lane: Beyond The Kindertransport: A Memoir Of Music, Love, And Survival, the critically acclaimed play charts the true story of young Jewish pianist Lisa Jura – Golabek’s mother – as she dreams of making her debut at Vienna’s Musikverein concert hall.
The 1938-set tale, which has been adapted for the stage by Hershey Felder, follows Lisa as she is torn from her family and set on to the Kindertransport to London after new ordinances are issued under the Nazi regime. But one thing remains unchanged: her love of music and the pursuit of her dream.
The London premiere will feature some of the world’s most beloved piano music played live on a Steinway concert grand piano, and follows sold-out runs across the States.
The Pianist Of Willesden Lane will be followed by the world premiere of new musical Miss Atomic Bomb (7 March to 9 April), which is co-directed and choreographed by Top Hat’s Olivier Award-winning Bill Deamer.
Created by Adam Long, Gabriel Vick and Alex Jackson-Long, Miss Atomic Bomb is set in 1952 Las Vegas where tourists are going nuts for nuclear.
Inspired by the real-life nuclear tests and pageants of the era, the musical charts the story of what’s happening in the midst of the euphoria. While tourists are sipping cocktails and watching atomic blasts ignite the sky, Candy’s sheep have mysteriously died, Joey has deserted the army, Myrna is designing clothes for pigs and time is running out for four friends.
The season is completed by My Mother Said I Never Should (13 April to 21 May). The first major London revival of Keatley’s debut play for more than 25 years, it charts the story of Doris, an illegitimately born child of 1900, who exchanges her budding teaching career for marriage and motherhood.
Talking about the season, the St James Theatre’s Creative Director James Albrecht said: “As we embark on our fourth year at the St James, it is a joy to be fulfilling our objective to present ambitious new plays, musical theatre and revivals of ground-breaking works, from both sides of the Atlantic. In our spring season we bring you absorbing and entertaining tales inspired by true stories and notable for their leading roles for women.”
Alongside the new season the venue will continue its new writing initiative St James: RE:act, which sees each production accompanied by an evening for emerging theatremakers to stage response pieces of the shows.