News: Phil Daniels and Janie Dee to star in The Happy Prince, a new musical inspired by Oscar Wilde’s classic fairytale

A new musical based on Oscar Wilde’s classic fairy tale will be presented in three showcase performances at The Place from 3 – 4 May 2019. The Happy Prince stars Janie Dee as Mrs Bentley, Phil Daniels as The Mayor, Sophia Hurdley as The Swallow and Sam Archer as The Prince. This heart-rending story about a Swallow’s faithful love for the golden statue of a Prince is told through a seamless fusion of dance and song.

The rest of the cast includes David Burt, Louis Gaunt, Sammy Graham, Jessica Pardoe, Edwin Ray, Ronald Samm, Cilla Silvia, Gemma Wardle and Alfie Wickham.

Hal Cazalet said: “The Happy Prince is a fairy tale for today and as Oscar Wilde intended, for both adults and children alike. I can’t help but feel that the Wildean themes of greed and corruption set against the redeeming power of love and sacrifice are every bit as relevant and urgent in our present world, as when Wilde wrote the story in 1888.”

This modern musical adaptation is set in an unpleasant 1920’s Laundry House from which the potent technicolour world of the fairy tale evolves. Dark humour, greed and corruption are at work as the malevolent designs of a despot Mayor drive a town into bankruptcy and ruin. Drawing parallels to the world today, walls are being built to divide societies, so the Statue of a Prince, trapped behind the walls of his own palace, must win over the heart of a Swallow to save his people.

Although outwardly beautiful, the omniscient Prince is troubled by the poverty and suffering surrounding him. He persuades the Swallow to become his messenger and distribute his treasures to the townspeople who are most in need. In a race against time, and as the Swallow gradually removes his sapphire eyes and his gold leaf, outwardly the statue looks dull and shabby but the Prince is inwardly renewed and freed of his torment.

Phil Daniels is an iconic actor who rose to fame through his roles in Quadrophenia and Scum (1979). Acclaimed television performances include Moonfleet, Holding On, Outlaws, Eastenders, Rock and Chips and guest leads in New Tricks and Poirot. His extensive theatre credits include Anthony and Cleopatra and The Knight of the Burning Pestle at Shakespeare’s Globe, Monsieur Thénardier in Les Misérables (West End), This House (National Theatre, Garrick Theatre), Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (tour), and King Lear (Chichester Festival Theatre). Recent credits include the feature film The Hatton Garden Job, Zapped (Dave) and Endeavor (ITV). Most recently Phil starred alongside Jim Broadbent in A Very Very Dark Matter (Bridge Theatre).

Janie Dee is an award-winning actress, singer and musical theatre performer characterised by her extraordinary versatility in acclaimed work on stage, film, television and radio. Best known for her performance as Jacie Triplethree in Comic Potential (1998) and as Carrie Pipperidge in Carousel (1993) at the National Theatre, her most recent theatre credits include Phyllis Rogers Stone in Follies at the National Theatre (2017). Janie has won three of the most prestigious awards in British Theatre; the Olivier Award, the Evening Standard Award and Critics Circle Awards for Best Actress in a Play.

Sam Archer is best known for his performances as a principal dancer in Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, including creating the title role in Edward Scissorhands (2005). Sam has also performed in a number of musicals and plays in the West End and internationally, most recently in Emma Rice’s Wise Children.

Sophia Hurdley is in Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company and dances leading roles in his repertoire. Her film credits include Cinderella and The Phantom of the Opera.

The creative team includes Hal Cazalet (Direction, Music and Lyrics), Michael Barry (Book and Movement Director), David Howe (Lighting), Sophia Hurdley (Choreography) and Sam Archer (Choreography). The original workshop for the production was developed alongside Maria Friedman and Drew McOnie.

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