YMT blog

YMT Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Hardy's finest novel has injustice as it's central theme


"Thus, the thing began… why was she doomed to be seen and coveted that day by the wrong man, and not by some other man, the right and desired one..."

YMT is excited to present Tess of the d’Urbervilles being performed at the Theatre Royal, Winchester from the 1st-3rd of September.

What is Tess of the d’Urbervilles about?

Free-spirited country girl Tess Durbeyfield knows nothing of the world outside her own village but then she finds a job that will change her life forever. When she is caught between her wealthy, manipulative, cousin Alec and the handsome, educated, farmer Angel Clare, a dark love story unfolds leading to seduction, abandonment, and murder. Tragedy is unavoidable as Tess finds she is powerless to change her fate.

We caught up with Director, Gerry Flanagan, to gain some insights into his inspirations for the peice, and what to expect from this production.

Gerry has chosen to go down the route of devising. There will be no initial script. This is a brilliant way to not only allow the show to organically evolve over the rehearsal period, but it adds no limits to where the production can go and the involvement of the cast in its development.

Why Did Tess of the d'Urbervilles stand out as a piece of literature that you wanted to turn into a musical?

“It is Hardy's finest novel and has injustice as it's central theme. Other themes are the domination of women by men and the changing ideas of social class. The novel is rich in emotion and desire as Tess struggles to be true to herself and her dreams. All these elements make her story ripe for musical theatre”

What style will the musical take?

“This will be a strong ensemble piece, an exciting blend of physical theatre, expressive movement and playfulness. There will irreverence but no parody as Tess reveals to us the beauty of tragedy.”

What are you most excited about in this production?

“Working with such a talent group of young performers to release the emotions and dreams of a young women who struggles fearlessly against men and society who constantly try to master her.”


What can you expect from this musical adaptation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

Director Gerry Flanagan, alongside award-winning composer Pippa Cleary, brings this dark love story to life with an exciting blend of physical theatre and compelling songs mixed with vibrant storytelling and physical comedy. Set against Wessex countryside and Winchester, Flanagan plays with Hardy’s ingredients yet remains faithful to his themes. Taking a dynamic approach to classic British theatre, this extraordinary love triangle plays out against the backdrop of late 19th Century country society. Flanagan’s wealth of experience as clown, commedia specialist and director, alongside award-winning composer Pippa Cleary, brings the piece to life in an unexpected and energetic way.

Gerry Flanagan is Artistic Director of Shifting Sands Theatre, founded 1998 to create stimulating, accessible theatre that is both comic and emotionally rich, currently touring The King Lear. A teacher at Universities and colleges for over 20 years, Flanagan has run a wide range of devised projects. Further credits include Box to Hawaii, Fools!Fools!Fools! and Don’t Let Go!

Pippa Cleary is a composer, writer and musical director, who has written many shows with collaborator and book writer Jake Brunger. Credits include The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4, and MTM award winning shows Jet Set Go! and The Great British Soap Opera. Pippa won the Arts Foundation Fellowship Award for Composition for Musicals in January 2012 and in 2011 she won The Times Christmas Carol Competition with In the Snow. Pippa trained in composition and singing at Bristol University, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome and L’Université d’Aix en Provence.

The show will be performed in Winchester, which is partly where the original book is set. Working in the environment in which the characters belong to will help the cast gain a greater understanding into their character’s psyches, and the atmosphere of the original story. Don't miss Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

1 – 3 September | Theatre Royal, Winchester | Booking
Friday: 7.30pm | Saturday: 2.30pm & 7.30pm | Sunday: 2.30pm
Tickets: £16 / £10 concessions / £45 families


YMT - Children of the New Forest

From the Hunger Games to Andrew Lloyd Webber Children of the New Forest is unlike anything else


YMT is excited to present their brand-new musical adaptation Children of the New Forest.

Children of the New Forest is a musical adaptation for a new generation brought to life by Writer Caroline Wigmore and Composer Jen Green, together they have written and composed a contemporary, dark and atmospheric peice of music theatre. Hear all about the making of the musical from this creative duo as Caroline and Jen discuss their process and their shared creativity. You can also pick up some helpful tips from the experts on 'how to' write a musical! More below.

What is the main message in the story?

This show is about war and the impact it has on ordinary people's lives - whether they're living in 17th century England, the current day, or the future. How would we react if we were born into a different time or place? Would we live up to the high standards that we hold fictional characters to? This is especially potent in today’s society.

What influenced your work on this show?

Not what people would expect, but the genre of science fiction has been a huge inspiration of this production; especially in the development of the world of the show. Some books and movies that have inspired this world are Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and the sci-fi classics including Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. In terms of the musicality, the creative team have deliberately chosen to give this show a ‘folk rock’ sound. Inspirations have been drawn from a wide variety of artists ranging from Duncan Sheik and Andrew Lloyd Webber to Bob Dylan and Jimmy Eat World.

Jen Green:

“I'm really looking forward to working with everyone! This is the premiere of the show, and a fantastic opportunity to get involved in shaping the characters and the musical feel of the show - we can't wait to bring it to life."




How long does it take to write a musical?

"Usually it takes years (sometimes a lot of years). That doesn't mean that we are working exclusively on a single show, though. Many writers have multiple shows in progress at the same time, and will put one show on pause because of a commission for another show."

Do you ever fight with your writing partner?

"Ha. No, but we sometimes have different opinions. Usually if we can't settle on something, we try it out in a reading or on stage.  Simply telling another writer that you don't like what they have written isn't helpful - If you don't believe they have made the best choice, it is best to respectfully explain why, and also to offer another idea."

How do you pick stories to tell on stage?

"We look at stories that excite us. Excitement isn't enough though, there needs to be a reason why the characters are singing - otherwise the story might be better suited as a play, film or book. Ambitious central characters who go through some sort of major change is another thing we look for."

If I want to write a script, where do I start?

"Pick a short story with a clear beginning, middle and end.
A story can be as short as once scene.
Decide who your central characters are and start with few characters, perhaps 2 or 3, and make sure they are very different from each other.
Demonstrate what makes the characters different from the other characters through action: for example if your character has a bad temper, put them in a situation where the audience can see what makes them lose their temper, and how the other characters feel about it."

If I want to write a song, where do I start?

"Musical theatre songs often use a structure which is called AABA. It means that the song starts with a musical verse (A), and then the verse repeats (A) with perhaps a slight variation. Then a different musical idea - often called the bridge - is introduced (B) and then the verse (A) repeats. This is a fantastic structure for developing a character's emotional journey. There are plenty of exceptions that don't follow this rule though! Experiment with taking your favourite musical theatre song, analysing its structure, and then using that as a starting point for your own song."


Book & Lyrics – Caroline Wigmore: Caroline Wigmore is a London based musical theatre writer and composer originally from Minnesota. She holds a BA in Musical Theatre Writing from the University of Minnesota and a MA in Musical Theatre Writing from University of London, Goldsmiths. She has a particular interest in folklore, classic literature and historical pieces. The Van Winkle concept recording, which was released under SimG Productions, was nominated for Best New Concept Album 2014 by Broadway World.

Music – Jen Green: Jen is a composer, orchestrator and arranger. She has written extensively for theatre and musical theatre and regularly writes with Caroline Wigmore. Their shows include The Legend of White Bear Lake (YMT 2016), The Bachelor Girls (YMT 2015, Weston College 2016) and Van Winkle - a folk musical (S&S finalist 2014).

The Children of the New Forest | 26 – 27 August | Barbican Theatre, Plymouth | Booking
Saturday: 2.30pm & 7.30pm | Sunday: 2pm
Tickets: £12 / £10 / £40 families (2 adults & 2 children)


"The Most Genius Moment in YMT History"- @alysiacall


On the 10 year anniversary of Ed Sheeran performing in YMT’s Frankenstein 2007, we posted a series of photos to our social media of Ed behind the scenes at his project in Plymouth.

What we were not expecting is our current participants Maisie Alice Lake to re-create these photos 10 years on. Here below is a side by side of these brilliant re-enactments.

The "I'm focused and repping my YMT T-shirt". 


The "I love to dance... but does she?"


The "Oh so dark but oh so bright". 


The "Oh so young, oh so fun" iconic bench picture.


And finally, the YMT Head office favourite "Is she dead...? Oh no, we're just acting". 


We commend you Maisie. Brilliant work!




Jabberwocky: Behind the Nonsense.


“Beware the Jabberwock my son, the jaws that bite, the claws that catch...”

Youth Music Theatre UK is proud to present their new musical adaptation of Lewis Carrol’s Jabberwocky.

What is the Jabberwocky about?

Flora and Jess are two girls separated by more than a century, but a chance meeting across time leads them to a magical world beyond the mirror, where the triumph of hope rests with the power of friendship and imagination. This joyful, transformative musical production delves into an absurd world full of larger-than-life characters.


Who is the Creative Team?

This magnificent production has been created for Theatre Royal Margate, by a top-flight creative team including: award-winning Composer Rebecca Applin, with acclaimed Writer Susannah Pearse, alongside internationally-known Choreographer Heather Douglas and popular West End Director Luke Sheppard (In the Heights, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾).

Here are some quotes from the creative team about the up and coming production:

“I am thrilled about YMT’s production of Jabberwocky this coming summer.  Through the bringing together of the wonderful characters from Edward Lear's and Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poems, the show is a celebration of everything that makes us different, of not fitting in with the norms of society and of relishing our individuality.  I am so looking forward to taking the show to the Theatre Royal Margate.”- Rebecca Applin


“I very much am looking forward to creating the physicality of the wonderfully quirky characters from Lewis Carroll's JABBERWOCKY.  Together with Luke Sheppard, we will create an imaginative and story driven show that will bring all disciplines of musical theatre together.  I am sure most animals tap dance...right?”- Heather Douglas


Artistic Design for Jabberwocky.

Set in two dimensions, the set is as surreal as the nonsense poems it’s based on. Inspiration has been taken from the juxtaposing modern and Victorian time frames the production is set in. Focusing on the setting of a school using black boards and chalk as a theme running throughout the set, with a chess board floor dissolving into chalk. This chess board further enforces the surreal nature of the performance by almost mimicking that it is ‘falling into place’ at the back of the stage, paralleling the fact both lead characters have ‘fallen’ into this magical and mysterious world. 

Plese see Model Box Below:

Isobel Nicolson’s work includes: The Miller's Child (Watermill theatre, Newbury), Emeli Sande's Cancer Bonus tour and arena tour (Mirrad Productions) and Dream Big (Lead Creative Schools), Design Associate for Island Nation (Arcola Theatre, London), Design Assistant and Scenic Painter for Murder for Two (Watermill Theatre, Newbury), NYTW's Romeo and Juliet (Clwyd Theatr Cymru, New Theatre, Cardiff), Sleeping Beauty (Torch Theatre, Milford Haven) and Stig of the Dump's National Tour, Costume and Puppet Assistant for Ar Waith Ar Daith by Walk the Plank (Wales Millennium Centre), Art Department/Designer for Atal and Penelope (BBC Cymru Wales).

Quotes from Cast Members.

“Last year when I found I got onto maelstrom after a long wait I was absolutely thrilled! YMT meant an awful lot to me first time round because it gave me the opportunity for me to be away for my friends for quite a long period of time. It was really great working with new people and creating a piece of amazing theatre. This year I got an early recall and the one show I wanted to get on was actually Jabberwocky so when I found out that I was on that show I was really really excited! Once again I am looking forward to making new friends and new theatre!” -Hannah.

“I'm very excited to be taking part in YMT's Jabberwocky at the beautiful Theatre Royal in Margate. Through my previous performances with YMT I know I will have an amazing experience, be surrounded by highly talented people all with the same passion as me and gain life long friends. YMT has given me incredible opportunities and it's wide variety of different types of musical theatre has hugely benefited my performing skills. Having done dance opera in 'The Dance Connection 1', a more traditional ensemble production in 'The Midnight Flower Press' and enjoyed last year's musically-talented 'What I Go To School For', the Busted musical, I'm really looking forward to the colourful, nonsensical comedic world of 'The Jabberwocky'.”- Gabriella.


Jabberwocky is being performed at Margate Theatre Royal.

Get Tickets Here: http://theatreroyalmargate.com/event/jabberwocky/

Friday, 18 August 2017 - 7:00pm to Sunday, 20 August 2017 - 2:00pm

“We have more in common than that which divides us”.


Youth Music Theatre UK is especially proud to present the new music "More in Common". 

In a world of diversity and the current climate we live in, Jo Cox stood as a beacon of hope for a divided country and truly believed “We have more in common than that which divides us”.

Set against the tumult of our current political climate, Dance Connection3: More in Common presents a brand new contemporary dance-musical with an intricate and evocative musicality exploring how in this divided world, music and dance can bring people together.

Jo Meredith (award winning director and choreographer) has provided us with exclusive incites and inspirations that influenced this musical.
More in Common is heavily influenced by Jo Cox and is an exploration and celebration of the ideals that she stood for and aims to bring people together and do all that can be done to express her sentiment.
Since the performance and rehearsals are taking place just miles from Cox’s constituency, Meredith states “I thought that the ideals that she stood would be an incredible and touching starting point for a dance and musical theatre piece.”

We all stand together with Meredith when she states “I felt ashamed that I had not heard of her before her death.” Cox’s words of social inclusion and community in her maiden speech touched her deeply, particularly since we were on the eve of the referendum and the country was already divided. What seemed most fitting in Meredith’s eyes is that, during her research, she found out that Cox’s was a real lover of musicals, so a performance in her honour is a beautiful tribute to such a woman.



The work will be exploring the three key areas that the Jo Cox foundation are supporting: Loneliness, homelessness and the debate surrounding conflict; both at home and abroad. Each topic will be shown from a variety of viewpoints and perspectives, showing the divisions that litter our society and the things that can bring us together.

What is beautiful about this piece of theatre is that there will not be a linear story in the traditional sense, but it will explore narratives and stories threaded throughout the work. The three main themes will be explored through dance and music, encompassed within narrative strands.
Leading up to the production, Meredith has been posing questions to the cast in order to gain some emotive and personal stimuli in which to develop on in rehearsals. As you can see from their responses below, they are equally as passionate about creating a moving and important piece of theatre:

When did you last feel lonely and what colour is it?

• “It's quite common for me.
I can't really describe the colour but the feeling is downright depressing.
If there was a colour I'd say, the darkest shade of grey.”
• “Loneliness whilst surrounded by other people is often the worst type. I'd say white as there is an absence of colour.”

Name 2 opposites and what makes them different?
• “Good and Evil is a classic, the two are constantly at war with one another. However both need each other to survive since If someone banishes all evil to the unconscious mind in an attempt to be wholly and completely good, it can result in the development of a Mr Edward Hyde-type aspect to that person's character.”
• “ I think playing off the traditional "opposites" listed above and delving into the similarities between seemingly polarising issues is not just interesting in general but is very important in the context of this play. These links between communities and ideals pitted against each other is one of the main things we should highlight and indeed was the topic of Joe Cox's maiden speech.”

What is your experience of homelessness?
• “To be perfectly honest I often find myself looking for something to do when I approach someone on the streets in order to avoid eye contact when I pass. There is no spiteful intention behind this but I imagine this is a selfish action so that I do not feel guilty walking by.”
• “ It's a good feeling helping them, but also it's also quite heart-breaking because you see the same faces every year as well as the new ones, but the worst is when you've come to know them some of them, and then the next time you come down to help you find out that one of them is dead. It's just an endless cycle.”

Although the piece has a serious underlining topic, the show will feature comedy and humour. Humour is a brilliant way of equalising and bringing people together. The work will definitely have playful and light elements within it as we are aiming to represent all of life on stage and playfulness and humour are a part of life!~

The aimed impact is for the audience and cast to leave with the different viewpoint and perspectives on familiar topics. “I’d love them to be moved and feel empowered by the knowledge that we all have more in common than which divided us”.

Peforming so close to Cox's constituancy, at the Square Chapel Arts Centre, YMT hopes to bring hope and light in a still mourning area. 

Get Tickets Here:

Sat 19 Aug—Sun 20 Aug
Times: 2.30pm & 7.30pm at Red Brick Auditorium
Tickets: £12 (£10 concessions) £10 each for groups of 4 or more