A partnership between a leading London-based theatre production company and one of Manchester’s newest arts venues have announced a hat-trick of shows for 2017. Aria Entertainment first joined forces with Hope Mill Theatre, based in Ancoats, in January 2016 to spearhead the venue as a platform to showcase, revive and bring new musical theatre to the North. This year, they have had an extended hit with Parade and this weekend launches a revival of Hair.
Building on this success, Aria Entertainment and Hope Mill Theatre have today announced three headline musicals for 2017 – the UK premieres of American musicals Yank! and Little Women and the regional premiere of The Stationmaster.
Yank! will run from 9 March to 8 April 2017. The UK premiere of this new Musical which ran Off-Broadway. Yank! is a World War Two love story, with the book and lyrics by David Zellnik and music by his brother Joseph. It tells the story of Stu, a scared mid-western youngster who is called up in 1943. He becomes a photographer for Yank Magazine, the journal ‘for and by the servicemen’. With a score that pays homage to the timeless music of the 1940s, the musical explores what it means to be a man, and what it is to fall in love and struggle. Yank will also be produced with Ben Millerman and directed by James Baker.
The Stationmaster will run from 7 September to 30 September 2017. This is a musical Aria Entertainment produced a workshop production of in 2015 as part of their annual From Page To Stage Festival Of New Musicals. The musical is inspired by Horvath’s Judgment Day, translated by Christopher Hampton with a book by Susannah Pearse and Music and Lyrics by Tim Connor. Set in a small town in the Lake District in 1958, railway stationmaster Thomas Price is the pillar of his local community. But when a young woman unexpectedly arrives on the platform, his well-ordered life begins to unravel. The Stationmaster is directed by Bronagh Lagan.
Little Women will run from 9 November to 9 December 2017. This is the UK premiere of the Broadway musical which starred Sutton Foster who was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance. The musical originates from a book by Allan Knee, with lyrics by Mindi Dickstein and music by Jason Howland. Based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic 1869 semi-autobiographical novel, Little Women follows the adventures of the March sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy. Jo is trying to sell her stories for publication, but the publishers are not interested – her friend Professor Bhaer, tells her that she has to do better and write more from herself. Begrudgingly taking this advice, Jo weaves the story of herself and her sisters and their experience growing up in Civil War America.
Aria Entertainment is a theatrical production company headed up by Manchester-born Producer and Company Director Katy Lipson, who has a wealth of experience in producing new and established works in the West End, Off West End, Edinburgh Festival and UK tours. Each year, Aria Entertainment produces at least one musical revival; new British musical; new American musical; a play; new cabaret show; and a season of new musical theatre called From Page To Stage.
Katy Lipson commented:
“I am absolutely delighted to announce our 2017 season at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester. I am also excited to be on-board as resident producer on all in-house musical productions and to lead our vision on producing exclusively musical theatre with a focus on new musicals. We hope through our productions of Yank!, The Stationmaster and Little Women, we can bring even more audiences into the theatre to discover the intimacy and wonderful work we are investing in.”
Hope Mill Theatre opened in December 2015 and is located in the Grade II Listed Hope Mill. The 120-seat theatre is the brainchild of Joseph Houston and William Whelton who, after a career in theatre and living in London, were inspired by the highly regarded Off-West End Theatres and wanted to replicate it by forming a creative hub in Manchester. The five-storey mill is also home to writers, artists and designers.
Joseph Houston added: “We are absolutely thrilled to announce our 2017 season of musicals in collaboration with our resident producer Katy Lipson. All three titles are extremely exciting not only for Hope Mill Theatre – but for the musical theatre industry. Staging the UK premiere of two exciting shows such as the Off-Broadway musical Yank! and Broadway hit Little Women solidifies the theatre’s vision for producing never been seen before works and, the staging of new British musical The Stationmaster, we show our commitment to supporting new British musicals. These titles are sure to cement Manchester and the North’s position as a key driving force in musical theatre.”
To conclude the partnership’s programme for 2016, next up for Aria Entertainment and Hope Mill Theatre is colourful musical Hair. Previews are on Saturday 12 November and Sunday 13 November, followed by a three-week run from Tuesday 15 November to Saturday 3 December.