The Menier Chocolate Factory today announces the full company for their brand new production of Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 – The Musical which opens in Adrian’s 50th birthday year. Luke Sheppard directs Dean Chisnall (George), Lara Denning (Doreen), John Hopkins (Mr Lucas/Mr Scruton), Barry James (Bert), Kelly Price (Pauline) and Gay Soper (Grandma).Benjamin Lewis, Ilan Galkoff and Samuel Menhinick share the role of Adrian; Asha Banks, Georgia Pemberton and Lara Wollington (Pandora), Jason Rennie, Callum Mcdonald and Connor Davies (Barry), and Amir Wilson, Edward Hooper and Max Robson (Nigel).
Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary’s musical of Leicester’s favourite teen has undergone a period of further development since its original production at Curve in 2015, and Luke Sheppard’s new production will open at the Menier on 26 July at 3.30pm, with previews from 14 July, and runs until 9 September.
“Honestly. My family just don’t understand me. Perhaps when I am famous and my diary is discovered people will understand the torment of being a 13 3/4 year old intellectual” Adrian Mole.
Set in 1980s Leicester, Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, follows the daily dramas and misadventures of Adrian’s adolescent life. With dysfunctional parents, ungrateful elders, a growing debt to school bully Barry Kent and an unruly pimple on his chin, life is hard for a misunderstood intellectual who is only 13 3Ž4… To top it off, when new girl Pandora captures his heart, his best friend Nigel steals hers. Can Adrian win back her love and escape his chaotic family life?
With an infectious original score, this new adaptation rediscovers this much-loved novel and brings Adrian’s story to life once more.
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 was Townsend’s first novel, published by Penguin Books in 1982. It has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, been translated into 30 languages, and spawned 7 sequel Adrian Mole novels. The novels have previously been adapted for the stage, radio and television. This year Adrian celebrates his 50th birthday, and in March saw the publication of a new edition of the first two diaries.
Sue Townsend (1946 – 2014) was one of Britain’s most popular and most loved writers, with over 10 million copies of her books sold in the UK alone. She wrote in secret for many years, eventually joining a writers’ group at the Phoenix Theatre, Leicester in her thirties. At the age of 35, she won the Thames Television Playwright Award for her first play, Womberang, and began her writing career. Other plays followed including The Great Celestial Cow (1984), Ten Tiny Fingers, Nine Tiny Toes (1990), and most recentlyYou, Me and Wii (2010).
Her most famous creation The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 was published in 1982, and was followed by The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1984). These two books made her the best-selling novelist of the 1980s. They have been followed by several more in the same series including Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years (1993); Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years (1998); Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (2004); and most recently Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (2009).
Her other books include Rebuilding Coventry (1988), The Queen and I (1992 – also adapted for the stage), Ghost Children (1997), Queen Camilla (2006) and The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year (2012).She was an honorary MA of Leicester University, and in 2008 she was made a Distinguished Honorary Fellow. She was an Honorary Doctor of Letters at Loughborough University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her other awards include the James Joyce Award of the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin, and the Frink Award at the Women of the Year Awards. In 2009 she was given the Honorary Freedom of Leicester.
Jake Brunger (book and lyrics) and Pippa Cleary (music and lyrics) met at Bristol University, where they were studying Drama and Music respectively. Their musicals together include: Jet Set Go! (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Theatre 503 and Jermyn Street Theatre; licensed by Josef Weinberger Ltd), The Great British Soap Opera (Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Jermyn Street Theatre), Red Riding Hood, Treasure Island (Singapore Repertory Theatre) and Prodigy for National Youth Music Theatre. They also wrote the music and lyrics for the 2013 Rose Theatre Kingston Christmas show The Snow Gorilla. In 2013, Cleary won the Arts Foundation Fellowship for Musical Theatre Composition.
Dean Chisnall plays George. He previously appeared in the company’s production of La Cage Aux Folles in the West End. His other theatre work includes Working (Southwark Playhouse), Blood Brothers (UK tour), Shrek (Theatre Royal Drury Lane and UK tour),Love Never Dies, Evita (Adelphi Theatre), Never Forget (Savoy Theatre and UK tour) and The Woman in White (Palace Theatre).
Lara Denning plays Doreen. Her theatre work includes Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Matilda (Cambridge Theatre), The Rocky Horror Show (European tour), Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance, All The Fun of the Fair, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers, Dirty Dancing in Concert (UK tours) and Can Can (Sadlers Wells). Her television work includes Toast of London.
John Hopkins plays Mr Lucas/Mr Scruton. His theatre work includes The Boys in the Band (Park Theatre and Vaudeville Theatre), Ross (Chichester Festival Theatre), Ben Hur (Tricycle Theatre), Holy Warriors (Shakespeare’s Globe), Private Lives (Edinburgh Lyceum), A Mad World My Masters, Titus Andronicus, Candide, Antony and Cleopatra, The Tempest, Venus and Adonis, King John, Julius Caesar, Love In A Wood (all RSC), Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (Sheffield Crucible), The Deep Blue Sea (Chichester Festival Theatre) and The 39 Steps (Criterion Theatre). For television, his work includes Poldark, Endeavour, The Lodge, Stan Lee’s Lucky Man, Catastrophe, Dancing On The Edge, Hacks, Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, Merlin, Identity, Wire In The Blood, Robin Hood, The Path to 9/11, Nicholas Nickleby, Love In A Cold Climate, and two series as Detective Sergeant Scott in Midsomer Murders; and for film, The Face Of An Angel, Alice In Wonderland, The Experiment and The Pool.
Barry James returns to the Menier to play Bert – he previously appeared in Little Shop of Horrors (also at Duke of York’s and Ambassadors Theatres). His other theatre work includes for the National Theatre at The Old Vic; The Merchant of Venice, A Woman Killed with Kindness, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Volpone, Edward II, Three Sisters, Sancho Panza; for the National Theatre The Rivals, Love for Love, The Threepenny Opera, American Clock, Danton’s Death, Sweeny Todd; and in the West End, Billy, Jesus Christ Superstar, Little Shop of Horrors, Les Miserables, Grand Hotel, She Loves Me, Chicago and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. For television his work includes Thriller, Porridge and The Merchant of Venice; and for film, A Christmas Carol and Further Up Pompeii.
Kelly Price returns to the Menier to play Pauline – she previously appeared in A Little Night Music (also Garrick Theatre – Olivier Award nomination for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical). The Woman in White (Palace Theatre), Mamma Mia (Prince Edward Theatre), It’s a Wonderful Life (Avalon), Guys and Dolls (Piccadilly Theatre), Desperately Seeking Susan (Novello Theatre), Chicago (Cambridge Theatre), The Misanthrope (Comedy Theatre), Zack, That Day We Sang, Little Shop of Horrors (Royal Exchange Manchester), Stepping Out (Salisbury Playhouse), Boeing Boeing, Company (Sheffield Crucible), Perchance to Dream (Finborough Theatre), One Man Two Guvnors (National Theatre tour) and All the Angels: Handel and the First Messiah (Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre). Her television work includes Endeavour, Waterloo Road, Accused – Helen’s Story, Massive and Kombat Opera; and for film, The Sense of An Ending and A Bunch of Amateurs.
Gay Soper returns to the Menier to play Grandma – she previously appeared in Funny Girl (also Savoy Theatre) and Sunday in the Park with George (also Wyndham’s Theatre). Her other theatre work includes Death Takes a Holiday (Charing Cross Theatre), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Apollo & Gielgud Theatres), Canterbury Tales (Phoenix), Godspell (Roundhouse and Wyndham’s Theatre), Billy (Theatre Royal Drury Lane), Les Miserables (Palace Theatre), Side By Side By Sondheim (Wyndham’s Theatre), Good (RSC), Mother Courage (National Theatre), Which Witch (Piccadilly Theatre), Lend Me a Tenor, The Mitford Girls (Gielgud Theatre) & Salad Days for Ned Sherrin. Her television work includes Unforgotten, Romany Jones, Rude Health, The Needle Match, Father Dear Father, Bless This House, Barbara, The Ups and Downs of a Handyman, Lace and A Christmas Carol.
Luke Sheppard directs. His credits include Working, Casa Valentina (Southwark Playhouse), Jersey Boys (international tour), Murder for Two, Oliver! (Watermill Newbury), In The Heights (Southwark Playhouse and King Cross Theatre – winner of 3 Olivier Awards), Peter and the Starcatcher (Theatre Royal Northampton), Night Must Fall (Salisbury Playhouse), Stig of the Dump (Arts Theatre), The History Boys (South Hill Park), 101 Dalmatians (Castle Theatre) and Soho Cinders (Arts Ed). As Associate Director, Sheppard has worked on Singin’ in the Rain (Palace Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre) and Matilda (RSC), and as Assistant Director on Into The Woods (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre).
This production is co-produced with Curve, Leicester in association with Anthony Clare & David Ian Productions.