Stage Version of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons to Play London's Vaudeville at Christmas

News   Stage Version of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons to Play London's Vaudeville at Christmas Swallows and Amazons, a stage version of Arthur Ransome’s celebrated children’s novel of the same name, is heading to the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre for a five-week Christmas season, prior to a U.K. tour.

It will begin performances in the West End Dec. 15, prior to an official opening Dec. 19, for a run through Jan. 14, 2011.

Directed by Tom Morris, the Tony winning co-director of War Horse, it features songs by Neil Hannon (composer-performer of the pop band “The Divine Comedy”) and a book by playwright Helen Edmundson (who also adapted the National Theatre’s production of Coram Boy, subsequently seen on Broadway).

The production originally premiered at Bristol Old Vic, where Morris is now artistic director, last Christmas, after being developed at the National Theatre Studio. According to press materials, the show is a musical adventure for those ages six and over, and is described as a story of an idyllic era, of endless summer evenings and the beauty of youthful imagination. It follows Captain John and his able crew as they set sail to Wildcat Island on an exotic adventure to encounter savages, capture dastardly pirates and defeat mortal enemies.

The director of movement is Toby Sedgwick, who won an Olivier Award for War Horse, with set design by Robert Innes Hopkins, costume design by Robert Innes Hopkins & Liesel Corp, musical direction and arrangements by Sam Kenyon, lighting design by James Farncombe, sound by Jason Barnes and additional musical arrangements by Andrew Skeet.

Published in 1930, "Swallows and Amazons" was the first in a series of  12 books by Arthur Ransome (1884-1967). Set in 1929 in the Lake District, it tells of the school holiday exploits of the Walker and Blackett children and their sailing dinghies – the Swallow and the Amazon. Edmundson’s other adaptations include Anna Karenina, Mill on the Floss, War and Peace and Gone to Earth, all for Shared Experience, and a version of Calderon’s Life is a Dream for London’s Donmar Warehouse. Original plays include The Clearing and Mother Teresa is Dead (premiered at the Bush and Royal Court respectively); her new play, The Heresy of Love is due to open at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon in February 2012.

Hannon is a singer, lyricist and composer. Best known for writing, recording and performing as The Divine Comedy, he has also written extensively for TV and film, including the music to "Father Ted" and "The IT Crowd." He has collaborated with everyone from Michael Nyman to Tom Jones, and his cricket-themed project The Duckworth Lewis Method was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award. Swallows and Amazons is his first venture into the world of musical theatre.

Morris was appointed artistic director of Bristol Old Vic in September 2009. As associate director of the National Theatre from 2004 to 2009, he developed and co-directed War Horse (with Marianne Elliott) and co-directed Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (with Felix Barrett of Punchdrunk). Previously he was artistic director at Battersea Arts Centre from 1995 to 2004. He sits on the board of Complicite and is Chair of the JMK Trust.

Dates for the U.K. tour are to be announced Sept. 1; for more information, visit www.swallowsamazons.co.uk. To book for the Vaudeville Theatre run, contact the box office on 020 7452 3000, or visit www.nationaltheatre.org.uk.

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