David Walliams’ Boy In The Dress heads Royal Shakespeare Company 2019/20 winter season

Our Winter season ensures Shakespeare’s spirit is alive in the most exciting writers of today and demonstrates that we are investing in those new voices in order to better understand and reflect upon the world we live in. Gregory Doran, RSC Artistic Director 

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Winter 2019 season has been announced today and it includes the stage premiere of a new musical adaptation of The Boy in the Dress, based on the best-selling novel by David Walliams with songs by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers.

The musical, directed by Gregory Doran, and adapted by Mark Ravenhill, plays in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre from this November.

David Walliams said: “I’m delighted to be working with the Royal Shakespeare Company to bring this, my first children’s novel, to the stage.

“It’s now 10 years since The Boy in the Dress was first published and we’ve come a long way in that time.

“Ultimately, I wanted to write a story that encouraged people to recognise that difference can be celebrated, that it’s ok to be yourself.

“I’ve always loved musicals and, somehow, I’d always imagined this book to be made into a musical so to be working with the RSC, Mark Ravenhill and song-writing partners Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers on this new production feels like a dream collaboration.”

Mark Ravenhill said: “I first came across The Boy in the Dress when I was Playwright in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company back in 2012.

“I remember thinking that it was such a gripping, entertaining and life-affirming story with all the ingredients of a great stage show.

“The Royal Shakespeare Company has a fantastic track record of producing family shows so when David suggested making his novel into a musical, I thought, let’s go for it!

Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers added: “We’re beyond excited to be working with the RSC on our first musical theatre collaboration.

“We are both big fans of David’s books, so when he approached us about writing the soundtrack to a new musical version of The Boy in the Dress for the RSC, we were genuinely delighted.

“There’s a real freshness, cheekiness and heart to David’s writing which we’ve worked really hard to capture in the music.

“It’s been a really exciting and rewarding journey and we can’t wait to share the show with audiences when it premieres in Stratford-upon-Avon this winter”.

In the Swan Theatre deputy artistic director, Erica Whyman, will curate a new season of work including Shakespeare’s King John; A Museum in Baghdad by Hannah Khalil; and The Whip by Juliet Gilkes Romero.

Gregory Doran said: “this season brings together perhaps Shakespeare’s most contemporary of history plays and three new works, each of which – in their own way – channel Shakespeare’s spirit through beautifully crafted storytelling, richness of character and looking in the eye the biggest questions of our time.

“We open our season with our new musical production of The Boy in the Dress which I will direct.

“Based on the much-loved children’s novel, this funny and life-affirming story has been over six years in the making and features the coming-together of some of the UK’s best-loved creative talent.

“It’s a beautifully crafted story about football and fashion, and a passionate celebration of individuality.

“We are now two thirds of the way through our project to stage every Shakespeare play in the First Folio.

“For our 25th Shakespeare production in the canon, we welcome emerging talent Eleanor Rhode in her RSC debut directing King John in the Swan Theatre”. 

Erica Whyman added: “As we approach 2019, there’s no way of escaping the fact that we, as a nation, are looking long and hard at our position within the wider world, which is why it feels like an appropriate moment to reflect, not only upon the state of our own nation, but also upon what nationhood means to us today.

“Like Shakespeare’s King John, A Museum in Baghdad and The Whip are plays which aren’t afraid to confront big issues and ideas”.

The Boy in the Dress, by David Walliams, adapted by Mark Ravenhill, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, November 8 – March 8.
King John, by William Shakespeare, Swan Theatre, September 19 – March 21
A Museum in Baghdad, by Hannah Khalil, October 11 – January 25
The Whip, by Juliet Gilkes Romero, February 1 – March 21.

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