The song, entitled “Sunlight” and co-written by Jamie Norton and Ben Mark, is the final song sung by X Factor finalist Diana Vickers, who makes her stage debut in Terry Johnson’s production. According to publicity, Vickers’ performance of the new song has been receiving standing ovations as long as eight minutes.
The Rise and Fall of Little Voice concerns a painfully shy, diminutive Little Voice (LV), who lives alone in the north of England with her mother, Mari. Mari’s drunken, overbearing personality has driven LV into seclusion in her bedroom, where she listens to her late father’s records and has perfected faultless impersonations of the greatest divas, including Judy Garland and Dame Shirley Bassey. When Mari’s latest boyfriend, small-time working men’s club impresario Ray Say, overhears LV singing, he puts in place a tragic sequence of events as he pushes her towards stardom she doesn’t want and is literally terrified of.
According to playwright Jim Cartwright, “It had always been my intention to write an original song for the end of my play, when Little Voice finally sings in her own voice. However, when we first premiered it at the National Theatre in 1992, we ran out of time and a Judy Garland song was used. When I first heard ‘Sunlight’ with Diana Vickers singing it, tears came to my eyes. I was just thrilled. It was exactly what I wanted. Thank you to Mark, Jamie and Ben for helping me to realise my dream for the ending of the play. It has taken 17 years but with a song as perfect as this, it was worth the wait.”
Producer Nica Burns added: “When we first discussed the new West End production, Jim Cartwright immediately said he wanted an original song for the end of the play. Then, by one of those extraordinary coincidences, he happened to be at Granada studios when Take That were filming a special. He bumped into their manager, Jonathan Wild, and he asked him if they would consider writing a new song for the show. The result is ‘Sunlight’.”
Mark Owen said: “Jim Cartwright is one of the country’s leading playwrights and to be asked to be involved in the writing of the final song for Little Voice was a real honour. I’m a huge fan and am thrilled that he feels the song fits the moment and does his play justice. I’m really looking forward to watching it.”
Diana Vickers said: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard Mark Owen was going to write the final song for the play! I’d always really looked up to Mark, as I think the songs he writes with Take That are spectacular. ‘Sunlight’ is absolutely beautiful, and it provides the perfect ending to a brilliant play.”
Vickers, who plays the role originated on stage and screen by Jane Horrocks, is joined in the cast of the new production by Lesley Sharp (as Mari), Marc Warren (Ray Say), Rachel Lumbert (Sadie) and the playwright's 24-year-old son James Cartwright (Billy). Little Voice is designed by Lez Brotherston, with musical supervision by Nigel Lilley, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Ian Dickinson. It's produced in the West End by Nica Burns, Max Weitzenhoffer, TFP, Josephine Genetay.