Some Lovers, the pop-driven musical by Spring Awakening Tony winner Steven Sater and music icon Burt Bacharach, is making its London debut as part of the 2017 From Page to Stage summer festival at The Other Palace Theatre.
The new works festival is the brainchild of producer Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment. Andrew Lloyd Webber, who re-christened The Other Palace Theatre earlier this year as a creative hub for musicals in development, has brought Lipson's program to the venue for its fifth incarnation. Works are presented with minimal technical elements and are not open to review by critics.
Some Lovers, which is inspired by the O. Henry tale The Gift of the Magi, charts the emotional journey of a couple (Molly and Ben) at two different stages of their lives. The past and present begin to blur as an unforgettable melody (in true Bacharach style) brings them back to their younger selves.
Performances kicked off August 24 and continue through September 2.
An earlier version of Some Lovers had its world premiere at San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre in 2011. Sater and Bacharach continued to develop and craft the musical over the past six years in various readings and workshops. A concert version of Some Lovers was presented at Lincoln Center in 2016.
“We really hurdled into the production at the Old Globe almost before we had found the story or the score properly,” Sater says. “The musical has come of age in the years since. The storytelling has become much clearer and much stronger; it feels like it has found itself.”
Sater and Bacharach have collaborated with up-and-coming U.K. director Katherine Hare on the London premiere of Some Lovers, which introduces two new songs and a fresh approach to the material.
“It’s tremendously different,” says Sater. “This is the first chance we’ve had to really stage the production since The Old Globe. Kat has really found the emotional truth in the material.”
The show’s creators hope to launch a full London production of Some Lovers in the near future.
The most challenging part of the show’s development, according to Sater, has been solving how to present both versions of Molly and Ben onstage simultaneously. “It’s difficult because you’re always charting four journeys at every beat of the story,” he says. “It’s two characters, but four actors play them. So you see them in their early 20s and then in their 40s, and they are looking back and they have scenes with their younger selves.”
The London premiere stars Ben Richards (The Bodyguard, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) and Gemma Wardle (Betty Blue Eyes, Les Misérables) as the adult versions of Ben and Molly, respectively, with Aaron Kavanagh and Jenna Innes as their younger counterparts.
The creative team includes musical director Jordan Li-Smith, choreographer Philip Thomas, production designer Nik Corrall, lighting designer James Smith, and sound designer Chris Bogg.
From Page to Stage has taken residency at The Other Palace for a three-week engagement through September 3, during which time ten new musicals and three major concerts will play both the main house and studio.
Visit frompage2stage.com for tickets and further information.
Watch a clip from Bacharach Reimagined: