Martin Guerre Readies for Fourth IncarnationDate: 23 September 1998
Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg's Martin Guerre is reborn again - for the fourth time - this winter at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in a co-production between the Leeds-based theatre and Cameron Mackintosh, the show's original producer. The show will run 29 November 1998 to 13 February 1999 before its US premiere and UK national tour.
The new version of the award-winning musical will feature a rewritten libretto and new songs from Boublil and Schonberg, whose writing partnership has produced two of the most successful musicals of all time, Les Miserables and Miss Saigon, both produced by Mackintosh.
The play tells the story of the eponymous French peasant who returns to his family in 1551 after nine years fighting in the war. He seems a very changed man and, although his wife accepts him back, doubts about his true identity begin to emerge.
Martin Guerre first opened in July 1996 at the West End's Prince Edward Theatre but received universally bad reviews. Mackintosh invested £4m to re-package the show which re-opened in November 1996. That year, it won the Olivier Awards for Best Musical and Best Choreography and it ran for over 700 performances.
Despite its eventual success, Boublil and Schonberg remained unsatisfied with the result, believing it had been rushed and was not faithful to the material. 'They felt they never managed to get Martin Guerre right,' says West Yorkshire Playhouse artistic director Jude Kelly, who the pair approached about a new production. 'They couldn't proceed as artists until they got it right.'
Mackintosh also commented: 'We all felt that Martin Guerre had not found its final form and I discovered Jude was of the same mind. She told me that she was totally supportive of giving the authors a chance to complete their vision.'
For the new co-production, an impressive new creative team has been assembled. Martin Guerre is directed by Conall Morrison, associate director at Dublin's Abbey Theatre, with musical staging and choreography by Abbey Theatre's David Bolger, design by John Napier (whose productions include Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Cats, Starlight Express and Sunset Boulevard), lighting by Howard Harrison and orchestrations by William David Brohn (whose recent productions include the RNT's Oklahoma! and the Broadway production of Ragtime for which he won a Tony Award).