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New feminist musical has Ivor Novello score

A new musical built on the story of feminist Vera Brittain and the songs of between-the-wars British composer Ivor Novello opens at Buxton International Festival next summer.

The Land of Might-Have-Been is based on incidents in the early life of Buxton's pioneering feminist and pacifist, Vera Brittain, which follows her and her soon-to-be fiancé Roland, her brother and a close friend over a long summer in Buxton in 1914.

The war in Europe shatters their hopes and Vera embarks on a life-long campaign for peace and equality. The epilogue sees Vera’s daughter, Baroness (Shirley) Williams, reflecting on her mother’s influential life.

The show has been written by Michael Williams, the creator of Georgiana, his also Buxton-inspired award-winning opera. Extracts from the Novello songbook include My Dearest Dear, Waltz of My Heart, My Life Belongs To You and Why Is There Ever Goodbye?

Michael Williams said: “This is such an extraordinary story of love, hope, resilience and the rebellious spirit of young people. It throws new light on stories we thought we knew and also brings together the parallel but separate lives of Ivor Novello – the most successful British musical theatre composer of the early 20th century – and Vera Brittain, the author of the most powerful memoir of that time, Testament of Youth."

The show is a joint production between Buxton International Festival and Norwich Theatre, and performances at Buxton Opera House are on July 7/11/15/18 and 21. The production then moves to Norwich from July 25-30.


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