Award-winning British poet and novelist Simon Armitage will make his musical writing debut this autumn at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. Jerusalem, billed as a “dark musical comedy”, will receive its world premiere in November 2005 as part of WYP’s autumn/winter season which also includes a fresh musical version of children’s classic Alice in Wonderland and new in-house productions of Twelfth Night, Dead Funny and My Mother Said I Never Should.

The season kicks off in WYP’s Quarry Theatre, from 17 September to 22 October 2005, with Twelfth Night, directed by artistic director Ian Brown and designed by Linbury Prize winner Colin Richmond, with live music by Richard Taylor. Running alongside the Shakespeare comedy, from 7 to 29 October 2005 in the Courtyard Theatre, is My Mother Said I Never Should, Charlotte Keatley’s 1987 play about the relationships between mothers and daughters, directed by Sarah Punshon.

In Jerusalem - also in the Courtyard, from 12 November to 3 December 2005 - John Edward Castle, a housebound ex-fireman, broadcasts local news live from his home, despite the fact his son doesn’t want to be part of the family business and his wife is still in love with the town’s ex-policeman. When the coveted position of entertainment secretary at Jerusalem Social Club comes up for grabs, only one man stands between John Edward and his dream - a certain ex-policeman.

The West Yorkshire-born Armitage, who still lives locally, has published nine volumes of poetry, including Killing Time and Selected Poems, and two novels, Little Green Man and The White Stuff. He’s also written four stage plays, including Mister Heracles and a BBC radio dramatisation of The Odyssey. He received an Ivor Novello Award for his song lyrics in the Channel 4 film Feltham Sings. The world premiere production is directed by John Tiffany and designed by Laura Hopkins.

This year’s Christmas show in the Quarry Theatre, running from 28 November 2005 to 4 February 2006, is a new musical version of Lewis Carroll’s children’s classic, Alice in Wonderland. With music by Carl Davis, whose credits include the music for the TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and book and lyrics by John Wells, the musical is directed by Ian Brown. Another Christmas show, this one for very small children, The Magic Paintbrush, will be in the Barber Studio from 15 December 2005 to 14 January 2006, directed by Gail McIntyre.

And for an alternative over the festive season, Matthew Lloyd will direct a new production of Terry Johnson’s multi award-winning 1994 West End comedy Dead Funny, running from 9 December 2005 to 21 January 2006 in the Courtyard Theatre. The second in Johnson’s sex-and-comedy trilogy – which also comprised Unsuitable Adults and Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick - Dead Funny reveals Richard and Eleanor’s marital problems as they unfold during a meeting of the Dead Funny Society on the day that Benny Hill dies.

- by Caroline Ansdell & Terri Paddock