A poet, songwriter and actor, Vladimir Vysotsky died in 1980 at the age of 42. His fearless confrontational works were known verbatim by millions of people in the Soviet Union, even though the national radio station was forbidden to play his music and his poems went unpublished. As an actor, he made some 26 films, performed regularly with the Taganka Theatre and was one of the most acclaimed Hamlets of his generation.
Let Us Fly is conceived by Moni and Mina Yakim, freely based on leading French actress Marina Vlady's best-selling memoir of her marriage and life with Vysotsky. The stage show features 24 musical numbers, with English lyrics by Peter Kellogg and Albert C Todd with musical adaptation by Larry Hochman.
Willetts, who plays Vladimir, has starred in numerous West End musicals including Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Jesus Christ Superstar and was recently seen in the nationwide touring production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Francolini, who plays wife Marina, has recently been seen on the London stage in Daisy Pulls It Off, Mahler's Conversion, Merrily We Roll Along, Dick Whittington and numerous musicals at the Bridewell Theatre.
The pair are joined in the cast by Miles Guerrini and Joseph McCann. Let Us Fly is directed by Moni Yakim, designed by Naomi Dawson, and choreographed by Nick Winston, with musical direction by Jimmy Jewell and lighting by Simon Opie. It's produced by Daniel Mayer Selznick and Stefan Wathne.
- by Terri Paddock