Olivier Award-winning stage actor George Maguire, who starred in the Kinks’ musical, Sunny Afternoon, is set to lead a revolution in a new political musical The Buskers Opera at London’s Park Theatre.
Maguire is joined by Bend It Like Beckham actress Lauren Samuels in this new show from the pen of Dougal Irvine (Departure Lounge, The Snow Queen, Britain’s Got Bhangra), which is inspired by John Gay’s 18th century piece, The Beggar’s Opera. It opens at Park Theatre April 28.
Directed by Lotte Wakeham, The Buskers Opera will also star Natasha Cottriall (Into The Woods, Future Conditional), John McCrea, Maimuna Memonas and Giovanna Ryan.
Elements of the piece have been workshopped with Cardboard Citizens, who have been making theatre with people who have experienced homelessness, or are at risk of homelessness, for nearly 25 years. It was in such a session that the creative team discovered actor and songwriter Ishmael Gander who also will be part of the company.
It’s London 2012. The world is watching. Can the city deliver the greatest Olympics ever?
Pulling the strings is media mogul, broadcaster and puppet master, Jeremiah Peachum. Together with his star of the show, Lockitt, the Mayor of London, they are perfectly placed to capitalise on Team GB’s gold and drive their political agenda across the finish line.
Enter satirical street busker Macheath and his gang of dissenters ‘The Ninety Nine Percenters’. They’re the talk of the town – out to take the fat cats down – and it’s working! This time, Mac may have bitten off more than he can chew.
But it’s the 21st century – you can’t kill a man for singing a few songs, drinking a few beers, inciting political unrest in hundreds of thousands of people, and sleeping with your daughter. Or can you?
With the ever-influential media operating 24/7, capital punishment needs to find a new method of delivery…
Dougal Irvine said: “I started writing The Buskers Opera during the winter of 2011, when the feeling in London was overwhelmingly anti-Olympics. They were costing too much, there was too much corporate sponsorship, locals were being priced out of Stratford by property tycoons.
“Then, as the Games kicked off, my cynicism vanished. I wept when Mo Farah won his second gold medal. I remember smiling at strangers in the street for weeks afterwards. There was a palpable sense of change in the city. A real feeling of community. London was truly great!
“And yet as the months drew on, I watched homeless numbers continuing to rise, the spikes appearing in doorways, the cuts to public services, the food banks springing up in response to need. I recalled my earlier scepticism and wondered who was really benefiting from the Golden Games.
“I went back to a new draft. If The Buskers Opera was going to speak into this legacy, it had to be about more than soap box preaching. I had to ask serious questions of myself and the way I made theatre. It had to be about doing things differently, about stepping outside the standard structures of making a musical.
“I think the hard work has lead to a show which audiences will hopefully enjoy, and laugh at, and clap along with, but that also will encourage them to look past the glitz and glamour and discover for themselves the mechanisms pulling the strings.”
The Buskers Opera runs at the Park Theatre from April 28-June 4.