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Saving Grace musical, penned by KT Tunstall and April De Angelis, to premiere in London

The show is based on the much-loved film

KT Tunstall
© Cortney Armitage

Exclusive: 'It was pretty cosmic to be honest.'

That's how multi-platinum Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter KT Tunstall describes the origins of her first project for theatre, a stage adaptation of the much-loved 2000 British comedy film Saving Grace.

As Tunstall explains, it all began after watching a certain biblical stage show a while ago: "I got so excited after seeing The Book of Mormon for the first time that I just put it out into the ether that I'd love to be involved in writing musicals. Pretty soon after that, producer Barney Wragg kind of magically got in touch to talk about joining the creative team on Saving Grace."

Craig Ferguson and Mark Crowdy's cult classic, which follows the titular character who faces financial ruin after the death of her husband (and has to turn to more illicit agricultural pursuits in order to get by), is ripe for the musical adaptation, Tunstall explains: "The film is so funny and beautifully British and eccentric, and the fact that it takes place in an isolated village in Cornwall gives it such a unique personality and a lovely intimacy.

"The show was always going to be about the cast of brilliant characters in this story, and being able to find their voices and themes has been an excellent challenge."

The film, led by Brenda Blethyn and Ferguson, was a big hit in the UK, with two prequels made (which later led to the spin-off series Doc Martin). It has left its impression on Tunstall: "I didn't see the film when it came out, but as a huge fan of Brenda Blethyn and Craig Ferguson, I was surprised I wasn't aware of it. The first time I finally watched it I had a blast and laughed my head off! It isn't immediately obvious as a musical theatre piece, but that's partly why it's so good as a show; it's unexpectedly full of action and emotional highs and lows."

The new stage production will run for 12 performances at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, with an opening on 22 November and dates through to 4 December. Tickets will go on sale later today via the Riverside Studios website.

Barney Wragg, Liz Murdoch, Xavier Marchand, Crowdy and Ferguson are producing this "intimate first run" of the show, which is surely set for a bright future. It also marks a long-held ambition for Tunstall: "I've been very ready to try out something creatively new. Writing for the stage focuses so much on melody, emotion and storytelling, with the added structure of finding your way from scene to scene, all in the different voices of the characters. It's like puzzle-solving, and I love collaborating with a team."

Saving Grace, which has a book by April de Angelis (Extinct), is to be directed by Laurence Connor (Bad Cinderella). Also joining the creative team are John Rigby, overseeing musical supervision and arrangements, Laura Hopkins (set and costume designs), Bruno Poet (lighting), Richard Brooker (sound). Tunstall and Rigby are also overseeing orchestrations while casting (to be announced) is by David Grindrod.

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