De Profundis, New Musical Based on Oscar Wilde's Letter, to Premiere at London's Leicester Square Theatre

By Mark Shenton
17 Mar 2014

De Profundis, a new musical based on the Oscar Wilde letter of the same name, is to receive its world premiere in the Lounge space at London's Leicester Square Theatre, after winning the venue's inaugural New Musical Project competition.



Featuring music and lyrics by Paul Dale Vickers, based on the letter playwright Oscar Wilde wrote to his young lover Bosie from his prison cell in Reading Jail in 1897, it will begin performances May 1, prior to an official opening May 6, for a six-week run through June 8.

Directed by Katie Pesskin and with musical direction by Micahel Riley, it will feature Alastair Brookshaw, who has been seen as Leo Frank in Jason Robert Brown's Parade at Southwark Playhouse and at Israel's Jerusalem Theatre. His West End credits include Cabaret and Blood Brothers.

It is produced by Martin Witts and Lesley Ackland for London International Arts Ltd.

In a press statement, Vickers commented, "I first read 'De Profundis' when I was at drama school over 20 years ago and was immediately drawn to the obvious sense of drama within the letter. I created a short ‘non-musical’ version and then left it. When I came back to it, many years later, I realised that it had potential as a sung-through piece of theatre. I was always fascinated by Wilde’s ability to forgive, his intense love for Bosie and how he used writing as a form of therapy. At the beginning of the letter he is full of anger; he then agonises over Bosie's nature and how he could have been complicit in Wilde's downfall; then, towards the end of the letter he offers staggeringly profound observations on the nature of forgiveness and, as he puts it, 'the meaning of Sorrow and its beauty.' For this musical version I let the rhythm of the words themselves dictate the shape of the music and allowed the sentiment to drive the chords and melodies. Much of the lyrical content is taken directly from the letter with some invention required to tie ideas together. De Profundis is a piece of musical theatre in the conventional sense; however, I am experimenting with form in terms of structure as the piece is essentially an elaborate soliloquy."

Vickers entered the musical in Leicester Square Theatre’s The New Musical Project, set up to discover and nurture a new British musical that showed great writing talent. On offer was a process of mentoring and rehearsals that would ultimately lead to a fully staged show for the winner in the Lounge at Leicester Square Theatre. More than 100 musicals were received and considered. Six projects were chosen as finalists and showcases of them were produced and directed by Stuart Saint and Katie Pesskin.

To book tickets, contact the box office on 08448 733433 or visit www.leicestersquaretheatre.com.