Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment and Joseph Houston and William Whelton of Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester have announced Hope Aria Productions’ 2019 Season. The Season will open on 2 March with the UK premiere of a new version of the Stephen Schwartz musical Rags. From 27 September, Tracie Bennett will star in the title role in Jerry Herman’s much loved musical Mame, and the season will be completed by a new musical, The Astonishing Times Of Timothy Cratchit, from 22 November.
RAGS is a heart-warming and powerful musical with book by Joseph Stein (Fiddler on the Roof), lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked) and music by Charles Strouse (Annie). Mame, a classic 1960’s musical, with book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, has not been seen in the UK since the original West End production in 1969 starring Ginger Rogers.
The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit is a new musical with book by Allan Knee (the writer of Hope Aria’s 2017 hit musical, Little Women), and music and lyrics by newcomer Andre Catrini. It tells the tale of a young man who sets out to find his place in an expanding and volatile world. Inspired by the characters of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, the story follows the plight of young Tim from the home of his benefactor, Ebenezer Scrooge, to the theatrical madness of the great comic, Giuseppe Grimaldi. The new musical will be directed by Jonathan O’Boyle (Hair, This House, Pippin, Rain Man, Aspects of Love) and produced in association with Jana Robbins, Craig Haffner and Sherry Wright.
Stephen Schwartz said, “I’m delighted that Katy Lipson and Hope Mill Theatre will be presenting our newly revised version of Rags in its first production. The show feels more timely than it ever has been, and my co-authors and I are enthusiastic about all the improvements we have made and excited to be sharing the show with the Manchester audience.”
Katy Lipson said, “We are extremely excited to enter our third year as a producing venue with three incredible musicals, which we hope will cement us as a leading regional theatre in the UK landscape. It’s a huge honour to present the newly developed RAGS, working hand in hand with Stephen Schwartz, as well as welcoming back the works of Allan Knee to the Hope Mill and to have Tracie Bennett performing in our venue is a huge privilege.”