Blackeyed Theatre has announced a major revival of Oh What a Lovely War to mark the 60th anniversary of Joan Littlewood’s epic anti-war musical. A cornerstone of modern musical theatre and one of the very greatest stage satires, Oh What a Lovely War will tour nationally from September, including a stop at the Mercury Theatre Colchester and a three-week run at Southwark Playhouse Borough.
Conceived and developed by Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop in 1963, Oh What a Lovely War remains a classic of modern theatre, a fusion of timeless songs including Pack Up Your Troubles and It’s a Long Way to Tipperary with razor-sharp satire and high jinks, offering a satirical account of the First World War as seen through the eyes of the common soldier.
Wildly satirical, visually stunning, and deeply moving, the show is a hilarious, heart-breaking snapshot of life for those caught in the crossfire of conflict, a unanimous voice from the trenches and a timely warning from the theatre of war itself. Now, more than ever, it holds a mirror up to the world and speaks to us all.
Oh What a Lovely War stars Christopher Arkeston (Only Fools and Horses: The Musical, Theatre Royal Haymarket; Revolting Women, Mikron Theatre Company; Much Ado About Nothing, Cambridge Shakespeare Festival), 2023 Rose Bruford graduate Tom Crabtree, Harry Curley (Once, Barn Theatre; Summer in the City, The Gatehouse; Caligari, Underbelly), Alice E Mayer (Frankenstein, Blackeyed Theatre; The Chronicles of Wild Hollow, Audible; Y Mabinogi, Welsh tour), Chioma Uma (Brief Encounter, New Wolsey and UK tour; Kiss Me Kate, Watermill Theatre; Cinderella The Rockin’ Panto!, New Wolsey Theatre) and Euan Wilson (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Vienna English Theatre; The Great Gatsby, Immersive London; Stick Man, UK tour).
The production is directed by Nicky Allpress (The Shape of Things, Park Theatre; The Walworth Farce, Southwark Playhouse Elephant; My Brilliant Friend, National Theatre), with musical direction by Ellie Verkerk (Burnt City, Punchdrunk; The Color Purple, UK tour; SIX, West End and UK tour) and movement direction by Adam Haigh (The Mikado, Theatre Royal Bath and UK tour; Ruddigore, Wilton’s Music Hall; Kiss Me Kate, Leicester Curve).
Director Nicky Allpress commented, I’m so thrilled to be directing this unique piece of theatrical history, having followed Blackeyed Theatre and their extraordinary work for many years. One of the most exciting things about Oh What a Lovely War is how universal, timeless, and ever relevant it is, and testament to the brilliance of the work is how it can bear endless reinterpretation. Our concept will explore the idea of war as a circus, with an incredibly talented company of actor-musicians bringing Joan Littlewood’s ground-breaking classic to life with music, comedy, and stories.
Oh What a Lovely War will be at the Mercury Theatre Colchester from Thursday 21 – Saturday 23 September.
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