Wales Millennium Centre announces the world premiere of Tiger Bay, a major Welsh musical
Survival, romance and atonement in a diverse community: Tiger Bay, a new musical, takes place in what was once the most cosmopolitan port in the world, Cardiff Bay. A Wales Millennium Centre production in association with Cape Town Opera, this brand new show takes us back to the dawn of the twentieth century at the height of South Wales’s coal trade with characters drawn from the melting pot of Cardiff’s famous docklands.
Wales Millennium Centre has assembled an experienced creative team to craft the production, to premiere in November 2017. Directing is Melly Still, having just directed Cymbeline for the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Barbican and renowned for her Coram Boy at the National Theatre and on Broadway, and co-director Max Barton, Artistic Director PIGDOG and recently Associate on Stephen Schwartz’s Schikaneder, with a colourful original score by award-winning Welsh composer Daf James, book and lyrics by Cape Town Opera’s Michael Williams and design by Olivier award-winning Anna Fleischle.
Set at an extraordinary turning point in history, Tiger Bay tells of a time when Coal was King yet grinding poverty confronted opulent wealth. Valley girl, Rowena Pryddy, longs for a future away from David Morgan’s shop floor and its boarding house in central Cardiff. On the outskirts of the city, a man arrives in Tiger Bay looking for an escape from his past to find refuge in the city’s underworld of public houses, immigrants and street urchins. Above them all, in the Zodiac Room of Cardiff Castle, the Third Marquess of Bute grapples with his own seemingly insurmountable troubles and ironically it will be a lowly Water Boy who inspires the richest man in the world to leave a legacy for everyone.
Amongst a cast of unforgettable characters, the role of John Stuart, Third Marquess of Bute, will be played by John Owen-Jones – best known as The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera and as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables in the West End and on Broadway – with further principals to be announced. Completing the cast will be a diverse ensemble to portray the rich multicultural community of the period plus a talented children’s chorus.
Graeme Farrow, Wales Millennium Centre’s Artistic Director, said “2016 has been a defining year for Wales Millennium Centre having created and delivered several landmark projects. I am immensely proud that 2017 will see us realise our next significant piece of work, Tiger Bay, a musical born from the history of our culturally diverse home in Cardiff’s former docklands which has relevance to the world we live in today. I hope that our latest venture will bring a great Welsh story to the world in a time when arts and culture must be a uniting force in our communities.”
Directors Melly Still and Max Barton said “Expect a gritty spectacular and a real thriller that draws on the lives and losses of the people from Tiger Bay, with a healthy dose of romance thrown in. This is a celebration of all that is unique about an extraordinary community, and we’re delighted to be involved with the community itself. And, doing justice to Tiger Bay’s celebrated music history, there are some belting numbers to boot.”
Michael Williams, writer and Managing Director at Cape Town Opera said, “First and foremost I have honoured the musical as an art form, although much of what found its way into the story is actually based on fact. Inspiration came from the complex mix of class, race and cultural diversity of this unique place in turn-of-the-century Britain. In writing Tiger Bay, the process of embedding myself in all things Welsh was made even more compelling when I uncovered my own Welsh roots; my grandfather worked in the Salvation Army in Cardiff and my mother was born there so, for me, the strong partnership between Cape Town and Cardiff began years ago.”
Alongside Tiger Bay, the Centre will be producing an extensive programme of musical theatre workshops, bringing leading artists to collaborate with young people from Cardiff’s Butetown and the historic Tiger Bay area.
The world premiere of Tiger Bay will be Wednesday 15 November 2017 at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff (preview performance on Tuesday 14 November) and the production will run for two weeks until Saturday 25 November 2017.
Booking opens on Monday 28 November 2016. Tickets will be available £7-£39 and can be booked online at www.wmc.org.uk or via the Centre’s Ticket Office in person or by calling 029 2063 6464.