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Marc Bolan Musical Premieres in Sep, Aims for West End

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The life and music of T Rex frontman Marc Bolan will be celebrated in new musical 20th Century Boy, which is supported by his son Rolan Bolan and directed by Gary Lloyd. It premieres at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich from 13 September to 1 October 2011 (previews from 8 September), ahead of a hoped-for West End transfer.

Bolan, one of the earliest glam rockers, was an icon of the 1970s, famed for his appearances dressed in feather boas and top hats with drops of glitter on each cheek. 20th Century Boy, written by New Wolsey artistic director Peter Rowe with Lloyd, features 27 songs from Bolan's back catalogue, which includes hits like "Bang a Gong (Get It On)", "Children of the Revolution", "Hot Love", "Ride a White Swan" and "Metal Guru", as well as the show's title song.

George Maguire leads an 11-strong cast as Bolan. Maguire's previous stage credits include Fame at the Shaftesbury Theatre, Bank at the King’s Head, Rent on European tour, Tonight’s the Night, The Gate Escape and Sixteen on tour, Quadrophenia at the Nuffield Theatre and Oliver at the London Palladium.

20th Century Boy tells the story of the rock star's life from the perspective of the son seeking answers about his famous and short-lived father. Bolan died when the car driven by his girlfriend crashed into a tree, just weeks short of his 30th birthday in 1977.

Speaking to Whatsonstage.com, Gary Lloyd said he had been fascinated by Bolan's "rags to riches, ambition-driven story, which includes a huge fall from grace and has a tragic ending".

Lloyd, whose extensive credits include Michael Jackson tribute Thriller Live!, said he hoped the musical would have the same West End appeal as Jersey Boys or Buddy, telling the story of the artist and widening interest beyond established Bolan fans.

Hopeful that the show will tour ahead of a possible London transfer, Lloyd praised the New Wolsey for "embracing the project", saying the creative team were excited about "getting the musical right" during its Ipswich outing before "using it as a springboard to take the show around the country and into the West End".

20th Century Boy follows the Ian Dury-inspired Reasons to Be Cheerful, a co-production between the New Wolsey, Graeae and Theatre Royal Stratford East, which is set to tour again in 2012.

The new musical is based on an idea by Brian Dunham, Colin Giffin and Nicky Graham and has music and lyrics by Marc Bolan. Also in the cast are Jenna Lee James, Donna Hines (Gloria), Craig Storrod (Rolan Bolan), Greg Barnett (Tony Visconti), Katie Bernstein (Helen Shapiro), Peter Manchester (Simon Napier-Bell) and Matthew Ashcroft (Steve Took).


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