Connor Arnold to star in Tim Rice’s revamped musical comedy Blondel

Fresh faced rising star, Connor Arnold, is to play the titular role in Tim Rice’s revamped version of his musical comedy, Blondel, which comes to the Union Theatre next month.

Following the trials and triumphs of an ambitious minstrel in King Richard the Lionheart’s court, Blondel will get its London premiere on June 23. Previews start two days earlier. The production runs until July 15.

Blondel has lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Stephen Oliver. The book is by Tom Williams and Tim Rice, with additional music by Mathew Pritchard.

Connor graduated from Mountview Academy Of Theatre Arts in 2016. He recently played The Pardoner on a European tour of Canterbury Tales. His previous credits include Silent Witness (BBC1) and Catch Me at the Arts Theatre.

The rest of the cast features: Courtney Bowman (Winner Stephen Sondheim Performer of The Year 2016); Michael Burgen (Spamalot, West End & The All-Male Pirates of Penzance, UK Tour); Lauren Byrne; David Fearn (A Christmas Carol, Lyceum Theatre); Ryan Hall; Oliver Marshall (Forty Years On at Chichester Festival Theatre, Side Show, Southwark Playhouse); Jessie May (Rock of Ages, UK tour & Mamma Mia!, West End); Katie Meller (Closer to Heaven, Union Theatre & The Phantom of the Opera, West End); Calum Melville; Neil Moors (Jesus Christ Superstar, UK Tour & The All-Male Pirates of Penzance, UK Tour); Craig Nash (Rent); Michaela Stern (Soho Cinders, Union Theatre & You Won’t Succeed on Broadway, If You Don’t Have Any Jews, international tour); James Thackeray (Compliance, Theatre503 & A Haunting, King’s Head Theatre) and Jay Worthy (Call Me Madam, Little Shop of Horrors, Parade).

Tim Rice said: “I’m delighted Blondel is returning to the stage. It was one of the most enjoyable projects of my career.

“I’ve always felt Stephen Oliver’s wonderful music deserved a larger audience than it reached back in 1983 when the show first ran. I hope this new production at the terrific Union Theatre will please old fans and find some new ones.”

Struggling court musician, Blondel, is forced to stay behind to write songs in praise of the King’s evil and ambitious brother, Prince John when King Richard announces that he’s off on a Middle East Crusade to give Saladin a piece of his mind (and sword).

Worse, Blondel is separated from his sweetheart, Fiona, who has been press-ganged into the King’s official crusade dry cleaning dept.

However when Richard is captured by the murky – and rather cunning – Duke of Austria (just before the interval), Blondel decides to embark upon a pan-European adventure to save his King, Fiona, and England.

An irritable assassin, a proto-Robin-Hood and a quartet of monks all aid and/or hinder Blondel’s efforts to write himself both a place in history and love song to dedicate to Fiona.

Blondel premiered in the West End starring Paul Nicholas in 1983. It was the first musical Tim Rice wrote with a composer other than Andrew Lloyd Webber, following hits with Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.

Tim first had the idea for a show about the Crusades in the early days of his partnership with Andrew. They initially worked on it together, with the project titled Come Back Richard Your Country Needs You.

However their idea for a musical about the last seven days in the life of Jesus Christ took precedence and the idea for a musical about the Crusades sank into obscurity.

Tim later met Stephen Oliver and, in 1982, they began collaborating to bring the idea of a musical about King Richard into a reality.

Now titled Blondel, the show centred around Richard’s minstrel, Blondel, who embarks on a quest to find his missing King.

Blondel, directed by Sasha Regan, will run at the Union Theatre from June 21 – July 15.

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