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World premiere musical heads new season at Bolton

A world premiere new musical heads the new season at Bolton Octagon. From September 17-October 15 is a new musical adaptation of Markus Zusak’s worldwide best-selling novel The Book Thief.

Written by award-winning author Jodi Picoult (My Sister’s Keeper and Small Great Things) and Timothy Allen McDonald (adaptor of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and James and the Giant Peach) and set in 1930s Nazi-Germany, it follows courageous orphan Liesel as she enters a dangerous game of book thievery.

Music and lyrics are by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson and the show is directed by Octagon artistic director Lotte Wakeham.

Jodi Picoult said: “The Book Thief, as a novel has sold over 20 million copies and deeply moved readers all over the world. Having the chance to bring it to life in a world premiere musical at the Octagon is a dream for us!

“The story of a foster child in Nazi Germany, who learns the power words have to both hurt and to heal, feels painfully relevant today. We hope Liesel’s journey will inspire audiences.”

The Octagon's season will continue with a new production of Emma Rice’s adaptation of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter (October 20–November 5), in a co-production with the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough and Keswick's Theatre by the Lake.

The festive production is a musical adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (November 17– January 14), directed by the Octagon’s new associate director, Georgia Murphy.

The season closes with Bill Naughton’s local classic Spring and Port Wine (February 3-March 4, 2023). Returning to the Octagon after breaking box office records in 2008, this new production will be directed by Lotte Wakeham.

The Octagon’s First Bite play readings return with three new plays performed by actors "script in hand" in the Octagon Studio. Families can enjoy a variety of events, including the return of the Octagon Family Festival (August 26-28). Families will be able to enjoy free activities including craft, storytelling and music sessions.

Outdoor theatre company The Fabularium returns with There Be Monsters! (July 22-27) and the season also includes a variety of one-night events.

Wakeham said: “A year since reopening, we have loved bringing our building back to life. For our autumn and winter season we are going even bigger, bringing together the best of local, national and international talent to create an electrifying programme.

"We have been developing The Book Thief over the past couple of years in New York, London and Bolton and we’re incredibly excited to be producing this world premiere production here this autumn.”

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