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The Book Thief musical to run in Coventry and Leicester

Two new runs have been set for the hit musical, which has also been nominated for two WhatsOnStage Awards

The musical's ensemble
© Pamela Raith

Fresh plans have been unveiled for the musical adaptation of Marcus Zusak's much-loved novel The Book Thief.

First seen last autumn at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, the show was nominated for two WhatsOnStage Awards including Best Regional Production and Best Lighting Design.

Telling the story of an illiterate girl who steals an abandoned book in 1930s Germany, Zusak's best-seller is adapted for the stage by Jodi Picoult (My Sister's Keeper) and Timothy Allen McDonald (who adapted Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach) with music and lyrics by Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel (Central Park).

Zusak said today: "A writer always worries about an adaptation of their work, but The Book Thief musical has been a revelation and a joy. Everyone involved has respected the novel beyond my expectations, and I've loved watching it grow.

"Most importantly, when I saw it for the first time, I knew that it felt like the book, which is the hardest thing to achieve. The characters truly are the characters I loved when I was writing it all those years ago, and the songs are just amazing. I can't wait to see it in its newest incarnation later this year."

The show will open first at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry (running from 11 to 16 September) ahead of a spell at Curve in Leicester from 29 September to 14 October. Future plans for the production are to be revealed in due course, as is casting for the 2023 stagings.

Picoult and McDonald added: "It was an honour to adapt Markus Zusak's historical novel, The Book Thief, as a musical, and we are thrilled to present it in Leicester and Coventry. In a time when history seems intent on repeating itself – when hate crimes throw a spotlight on the differences between us; when words are being used to harm, rather than heal; when lies are being used to fuel a war – we feel that this story is more relevant and powerful than ever.

"It is our hope that this beautiful, moving show reminds the audience that the past has a nasty habit of not staying in the past – and that it is up to us to change that."

The production is directed by Lotte Wakeham (artistic director of Octagon Theatre), with choreography by Tom Jackson Greaves (Rent), orchestrations, arrangements, musical supervision and musical direction by Matthew Malone (Peter Pan), set and costume design by Good Teeth (Little Shop of Horrors), lighting design by Nic Farman (Allegiance), sound design by Andy Graham (The Wizard of Oz), video design by Dick Straker (A Monster Calls), puppet design by Sam Wilde (The Fir Tree), casting by Abby Galvin for Jessica Ronane Casting (The Glass Menagerie) and production management by Andy Fox and Lee Batty for Setting Line Production Management (Newsies).

The Book Thief is produced by Deus Ex Machina Productions (Ride: A New Musical) with Writer's Cage, Christopher Ketner, and Andrew Paradis, in association with Belgrade, Coventry.

Ramin Sabi and Emily Lunnon of DEM productions said: "The Book Thief is a gift of a show for us at DEM, bringing together our longstanding commitment to producing new musical theatre and the opportunity to tell one of modern literature's most beloved stories through this unique artform.

"We're delighted to be sharing this spine-tingling score, exquisite storytelling, and the work of this sensational creative team with audiences in Coventry and Leicester at this early stage in the life of what we hope will become a wonderful addition to the 21st century musical canon."

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