An award-winning production and a world première is heading to the Leicester Square Theatre with the opening of a new British musical, De Profundis, based on an Oscar Wilde story.
De Profundis, by Paul Dale Vickers, is based on the letter playwright Oscar Wilde wrote to his young lover, Bosie, from his prison cell in Reading jail in 1897.
It has won Leicester Square Theatre’s The New Musical Project, and will première in a six-week season in The Lounge at the venue from May 1-Sunday 8 June.
It stars Alastair Brookshaw.
The Project was set up to find 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.
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
Composer Paul Dale Vickers has taken Wilde’s 50,000-word letter (Latin translation “from the depths”) and set the words of one of English literature’s greatest wordsmiths to a stunning score to tell a story of love, loss and freedom.
Said Paul: “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.
“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 is the inaugural winner of the The New Musical Project initiative.
He originally trained as an actor, playing the role of Jean Valjean in the West End production of Les Misérables, James in the 2000 film adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar and Michael in the BAFTA award winning TV drama Cops.
The writer then diversified and turned his hand to composing for theatre.
The Project involved 27 actors, 18 panellists, 180 hours of rehearsal, and six public readings, which were attended by the public.