The recently announced @sohoplace, the West End's first newly built theatre in 50 years, has set its inaugural production with a transfer of Marvellous from the New Vic Theatre. The production will begin performances October 15 and run through November 26, with opening night set for October 20. New Vic Artistic Director Theresa Heskins will direct.
Based on the true story of Neil "Nello" Baldwin, who co-wrote the adaptation with Heskins from his story co-written with Malcolm Clarke, the play follows Baldwin from childhood in the 1950s, when no one expected him to amount to anything, to hitchiking across the country, becoming a famous clown, winning a BAFTA award, and more.
The play will feature a company that includes neuro-divergent actors. Michael Hugo will star as Real Neil with Suzanne Ahmet, Charlie Bence, Gareth Cassidy, Alex Frost, Jerone Marsh-Reid, and Daniel Murphy.
Heskins' creative team includes designer Lis Evans, original music director and composer Conrad Nelson, additional music director and composer James Atherton, movement director Beverley Norris-Edmunds, lighting and projection designer Daniella Beattie, original sound designer James Earls-Davis, additional sound designer Alex Day, and London transfer sound designer Paul Groothuis. Marvellous is produced by Nica Burns, the mastermind behind @sohoplace.
"What a thrill it is, to see a new theatre in the round opening in London!" shares Heskins in a statement. "And what a very special honor to be collaborating with Nica Burns so that the first show produced in it will come from the New Vic. Nica's decision to make a West End venue which deliberately nurtures an inclusive relationship between stage and audience is a radical one, and it's matched by creative programming. When she first proposed we open her new theatre with Marvellous, I was speechless: I could never imagine we would receive an extraordinary invitation like this. Nello’s special magic rubs off on everyone he encounters, and bringing that magic from audiences in Staffordshire to audiences in London will be such a privilege."
"Theresa said, ‘I would like to make a play about you,’ and I thought, ‘Why make a play about me?,’ which is the same thing I said about the film!" adds Baldwin. "The cast are lovely, we’re friends. It was great. The theatre was full and I made friends with the audience. I am excited about going to London. There’s more people, so hurry up and get your ticket!’"
Marvellous will be followed at @sohoplace by two new productions, the first directed by Josie Rourke and the second by Dominic Cooke. Further details have not yet been revealed.