Premiere of New British Musical at Wales Millennium Centre
This Easter, Wales Millennium Centre will premiere its first full-scale, original musical, ONLY THE BRAVE, produced with Soho Theatre, Daniel Sparrow Productions and Birdsong Productions. Based on the real lives of men and women caught up in the D-Day landings, this new production will star David Thaxton, Caroline Sheen and Neil McDermott, directed by Steve Marmion, Artistic Director of London’s Soho Theatre.
With a book by writer Rachel Wagstaff, music by Matthew Brind and lyrics by Steve Marmion, ONLY THE BRAVE tells the heart-breaking and inspirational true story of two couples brought together by war, Captain John (Thaxton) and Joy (Sheen) Howard and Lieutenant Denham (McDermott) and Maggie Brotheridge. This emotionally charged new musical brings to life the passion, camaraderie and courage of an incredible generation.
David Thaxton, born in Neath, South Wales, won an Olivier for Best Actor in a Musical for his performance as Giorgio in the Donmar Warehouse production of Passion. Other West End roles include Enjolras and Javert in Les Misérables, Raoul in Love Never Dies and Maximilian in Candide. He was also a member of Only Men Aloud!, the Welsh male voice choir which won the BBC’s Last Choir Standing, and is a founding member of the band Divisions.
Caroline Sheen, also from South Wales, made her West End debut as Marty in Grease at the Cambridge Theatre, and later played Sandy in a revival at the Victoria Palace Theatre. She was in the original casts of Mamma Mia! and The Witches of Eastwick and other West End roles include Eponine and Fantine in Les Misérables and Truly Scrumptious in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She played the title role in the UK and US Tours of Mary Poppins. Most recently, she played Alaura/Carla in City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse.
Neil McDermott is currently reprising his role as Ryan Malloy in EastEnders on BBC 1, a role he previously played between 2009 and 2011 and reprised in 2014. He also played Dr Ralph Ellis in The Royal between 2009 and 2011. His West End theatre credits include Lord Farquaad in Shrek the Musical, Jean-Michel in La Cage aux Folles, Young Buddy in Follies, Rolf in The Sound of Music and the title role inAladdin opposite Ian McKellen at the Old Vic.
Writer Rachel Wagstaff successfully adapted for the stage Sebastian Faulks’s novel Birdsong. She is currently co-writing two screenplays with Sebastian Faulks and is under commission to write a new musical for Vicky Graham Productions/Old Vic. Rachel also adapted Sebastian Faulks's novel, The Girl at the Lion d'Or, for BBC Radio Four (Woman's Hour).
Composer Matthew Brind is the musical arranger and conductor for X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent. His theatre credits include composer for David Walliams’s Mr Stink, musical director for Legally Blonde, and musical supervisor for Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Matthew is principal conductor and arranger for the Welsh Pops Orchestra.
Director and lyricist Steve Marmion has been Artistic Director of London’s Soho Theatre since 2010. A former associate director at the Royal Shakespeare Company and a creative associate at the Bush Theatre, he trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. His credits away from Soho Theatre include 24 Hour Plays at the Old Vic, Macbeth at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and Faustus and Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness for Headlong.
ONLY THE BRAVE’s original concept was by Steve Coleman, Matthew Brind and Rachel Wagstaff.