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Yarico - London Theatre Workshop

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

YARICO Productions is presenting the world premiere of a new musical at Fulham’s new bijou theatre, London Theatre Workshop. Billed as a love story that changed the course of history, Yarico runs from Tuesday, February 17 to Saturday, March 14, 2015.

With music by James McConnell, lyrics by Paul Leigh and book by Carl Miller, Yarico is a powerful, epic musical about forbidden love, betrayal and redemption, and is based on a true story that fired the world’s imagination and contributed to the social movement against the slave trade.

Yarico, an Amerindian beauty, is a young woman with great dreams and a fierce, independent spirit. When Inkle, the third son of a British merchant is shipwrecked on her island, he faces certain death at the hands of the islanders. In a courageous act, Yarico intervenes and saves him from his fate, marking the beginning of an extraordinary love story, which ultimately takes them to the island of Barbados.

The story of Yarico was first recorded by Richard Ligon in his book, True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados, published in 1657. On hearing her story, Ligon wrote: “And so poor Yarico for her love, lost her liberty.”

Bringing the story of Yarico to the stage has been a 10-year labour of love for producers John Kidd and his daughter Jodie, the model and UK TV presenter, who both have strong connections to Barbados, where they have a family home.

In a move to bring this forgotten story to a modern audience, John and Jodie have commissioned Yarico, which is based on the known facts of the original story.

James McConnell (music) won the 1987 Vivian Ellis Prize for young writers for the musical stage (with Kit Hesketh Harvey) for his first musical, Orlando. Since then, he has written extensively for the theatre, including the musicals Killing Rasputin (Bridewell Theatre), The Canterville Ghost (Britten Theatre), Inkle and Yarico in Concert (Edinburgh Festival, Crampton Theatre, Washington DC), Doctor Livingstone, I Presume… (Riverside Studios) and New Edna, The Millennial Musical (UK tour and West End) starring Dame Edna Everage. He has also composed the scores for over 100 television documentaries and dramas and two feature films.

Paul Leigh (lyrics) studied under Stephen Sondheim in Oxford in 1990. His other work includes with George Stiles, Moll Flanders (numerous UK productions, including Lyric Hammersmith and Theatre Royal York; winner of Best Musical, Regional Theatre Awards, for York production), Tom Jones (Theatre Royal York); The Three Musketeers (major prize at the first Musical of the Year competition in Aarhus; European premiere, St Gallen, 1999; US premiere, San Jose, 2001; subsequent productions in Boston, Chicago, and the Rose Theatre, Kingston); with James McConnell, Inkle and Yarico in Concert (Holders Season, Barbados; 1999 Edinburgh Festival) and Dr Livingstone, I Presume… (Riverside Studios). Leigh is a founder member of Mercury Musical Developments.

Carl Miller (book) adapted Erich Kästner’s Emil and the Detectives for the National Theatre last Christmas. His mini-opera Precipitation with music by Helen Chadwick was part of this summer’s Tête-à-Tête festival, and his adaptation of Keith Gray’s Ostrich Boys opens at the National Theatre Company of Korea in Seoul this November. Miller has worked at theatres across the country, including the Royal Court, Birmingham Rep and the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. At Bury St Edmunds, he advised on the exploration of the Georgian theatre repertoire – which is where he first came across Colman and Arnold’s 1787 version of Inkle and Yarico.

Cast and creatives for Yarico have still to be announced.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/yaricothemusical.

London Theatre Workshop, 65 New Kings Road, above the Eel Brook Public House, London, SW6 4SG