How long before we see not just two Lloyd Webber musicals in the West End, but West End musicals by two Lloyd Webbers? Nick Lloyd Webber, the 30-year-old son of Andrew Lloyd Webber by his first wife Sarah Hugill, is venturing further into his father’s realm, having secured the rights to develop a new English-language stage musical based on French literary classic The Little Prince.

The new project continues the partnership between Nick and director Mick Gordon. The pair’s current project – a new Oxford Shakespeare Company production of The Tempest, for which Nick has provides the score and musical direction – opens in London next week at Gray’s Inn, where it runs from 9 to 18 June 2010, prior to touring and the company’s annual summer residence at the Walled Garden at Wadham College, Oxford.

The Little Prince was published in 1943, a year before its aviator author Antoine de Saint-Exupery died in combat in the Second World War. Partly based on Saint-Exupery’s own experience of a crash landing in the desert, it tells the story of a pilot in similar circumstances who encounters the Little Prince, a boy from an asteroid who tells him his adventures throughout the solar system and the various characters he has met on the way.

The slim children’s book has been translated into 180 languages and has had a number of adaptations since it first appeared, with varying degrees of success. Several musical adaptations have been attempted in the past, including a 1974 film with a score by Lerner and Loewe and a children’s version staged at Hampstead Theatre in 2008.


Nick Lloyd Webber (above left) & director Mick Gordon

Mick Gordon, Nick Lloyd Webber and his long-term musical collaborator James Reid have been given permission by the Saint-Exupéry estate and the French publishers Editions Gallimard to develop The Little Prince. They are aiming to premiere the large-scale musical project in winter of 2011/12 at a venue to be established, subject to final consent from the estate.

The Little Prince will follow the next joint project between Lloyd Webber and Gordon, which is Bea. The new play, exploring empathy, is written and directed by Gordon for his On Theatre company, and will run at London’s Soho Theatre from 1 December 2010 to 8 January 2011.

Prior to his work for the Oxford Shakespeare Company, for which he’s now written three scores for Shakespeare plays, Nick Lloyd Webber had already established himself as a composer in film and television as well as an independent songwriter and record producer.