Clare Burt makes her RSC debut in the lead role of Miss Littlewood, a new musical about theatre director, Joan Littlewood. Previews begin in the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon on 22 June 2018.
With book, music and lyrics by Sam Kenyon and directed by deputy artistic director Erica Whyman, Miss Littlewood tells the story of Joan Littlewood, the anarchic revolutionary of 20th century theatre.
Born into poverty, Littlewood raged her way to have lasting influence on British culture. Anti-establishment, communist, visionary, rude and glorious, she fired the imagination of a generation.
Littlewood’s unique Theatre Workshop was responsible for a raft of successes including Oh, What A Lovely War!, A Taste of Honey and The Hostage, and breathed new life into the then-derelict Theatre Royal Stratford East. This new musical of Littlewood’s life story, told with her own uncompromising candour, reveals a mighty love story at its heart.
Along with Clare Burt, Aretha Ayeh, Sandy Foster, Amanda Hadingue, Dawn Hope, Emily Johnstone and Sophia Nomvete will also play the part of Littlewood at different stages of her life.
The cast also includes: Daisy Badger (Rosalie), Greg Barnett (Jimmie Miller/Cedric Price), Laura Elsworthy (Shelagh Delaney), Solomon Israel (Gerry Raffles), Natasha Lewis and Tam Williams (Murray Melvin).
Miss Littlewood is directed by Erica Whyman and designed by Tom Piper. Lighting is by Charles Balfour, sound by Jonathan Ruddick, movement by Lucy Hind, and video by Nina Dunn. The piece is developed in collaboration with Theatre Royal Stratford East.
Sam Kenyon said:
“I’d always wondered about the imaginative moment when Fanny Brice became Funny Girl; when Gypsy Rose Lee became Gypsy; when Eva Perón became Evita. When I read Joan Littlewood’s autobiography, Joan’s Book, and she wrote that she’d quit RADA aged 19 and walked – walked! – to Manchester, I knew immediately that I was on to something. And then I found the most searing love letters buried in the centre of the book. I’ve written this in homage to the Stockwell-born ‘illegitimate’ daughter of a teenage mother, who has inspired theatre makers worldwide and yet is barely known by her name.”
Clare Burt’s recent theatre credits include: The Divide (Old Vic at Edinburgh International Festival), Big Fish (The Other Palace), Flowers for Mrs Harris (Sheffield Crucible, Chichester Festival Theatre autumn 2018), London Road, The Miracle/DNA/Babygirl and Coram Boy (National Theatre), and Sunspots (Hampstead Theatre).
Sam Kenyon composed music for the RSC’s Vice Versa (2017), A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation (2016), and The Christmas Truce (2014). He wrote music and lyrics for The Borrowers, which won the UK theatre award for Best Show for Children and Young People in 2013, and in 2010, with Erica Whyman, he co-directed Joan Littlewood’s Oh! What a Lovely War for Northern Stage/national tour. He studied at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, and has performed in numerous stage productions including John Doyle’s productions of Sweeney Todd (2004), Amadeus (2006) and Merrily We Roll Along (2008).