Menier Chocolate Factory's 2023 season will conclude with three musicals: the world premieres of The Third Man and Close Up–The Twiggy Musical, and a revival of Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures, which opened earlier this year at the Nissay Theatre in Tokyo.
The trio of musicals will kick off June 10-September 9 with The Third Man, featuring music by George Fenton, a book by Christopher Hampton, and lyrics by Don Black. Directed by Trevor Nunn, opening night is scheduled for June 19. Based on Graham Greene’s story, published as a novella and made into a film, the new musical is set in post-war Vienna as Holly Martins arrives at the invitation of his friend and hero, Harry Lime, only to discover that Harry has been killed in a car accident. Originally developed by Vereinigte Bühnen Wien Gmbh in Vienna, the production will also have set and costume design by Paul Farnsworth, lighting design by Emma Chapman, sound design by Gregory Clarke, orchestrations by Jason Carr, musical supervision and direction by Tamara Saringer, and movement and choreography by Rebecca Howell.
The story of a kid from Neasden who became the most famous teenager on the planet and the face of the 1960s will be explored in Close Up—The Twiggy Musical, playing the London venue September 18-November 18 with an official opening September 27. Written and directed by Ben Elton, the musical will feature the hits that were the soundtrack to Twiggy's life as she faced snobbery and sexism in a pre-Me Too world and achieved her dreams without compromising who she was. The world premiere will also have set and video design by Tim Bird, costume design by Jonathan Lipman, sound design by Gregory Clarke, musical supervision and orchestrations by Stuart Morley, and choreography by Jacob Fearey.
The year will end with a revival of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's 1976 Tony-nominated musical Pacific Overtures. The co-production with Umeda Arts Theater will play the Chocolate Factory November 25, 2023-February 25, 2024, with an official opening December 4. The musical—set in 1853, after 200 years of stability, as Japan faces an American expedition determined to open the “floating kingdom” to trade—will have direction by Matthew White, set design by Paul Farnsworth, costume design by Ayako Maeda, sound design by Gregory Clarke, choreography by Ashley Nottingham, musical supervision by Catherine Jayes, and orchestrations by Jonathan Tunick. Pacific Overtures, featuring such tunes as “Someone in a Tree,” “Pretty Lady,” and “A Bowler Hat,” will complete the Menier’s trilogy of Weidman-Sondheim musicals following productions of Assassins and Road Show. This production, following successful runs in Tokyo and Osaka, marks the first time the revisions made by Sondheim and Weidman in 2017 will be seen in the U.K.
Casting and additional creative team members for all three musicals will be announced at a later date.
Artistic Director David Babani says, “Musical theatre is at the heart of what we do at the Menier, and not having been able to stage a musical for the last three years, we’re thrilled to announce a season of three back-to-back musicals—comprising two world premieres and a reinvention of Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures. We’ve had the immense privilege to stage many Sondheim works on our stage, so it’s wonderful to collaborate with Umeda Arts Theater and bring his unique voice back to our theatre. We look forward to welcoming Trevor Nunn back to helm The Third Man—a brand-new musical by George Fenton, Christopher Hampton, and Don Black—for the first time since the Olivier Award-winning Fiddler on the Roof; and also, to collaborate with Twiggy and Ben Elton for the first time with Close Up—The Twiggy Musical.”