NTS to stage musical version of The Wicker Man

A musical version of classic cult movie The Wicker Man is the highlight of the National Theatre of Scotland’s first-quarter season for 2012, revealed today.

The company has also announced international dates for two of its productions, the start of a project on the bothies of Scotland’s mountains, a major dance project in Falkirk and the first in a series of events highlighting the work of the company’s emerging artists.

Appointment with The Wicker Man is a new piece of musical theatre by Greg Hemphil and Donald McLeary. Directed by NTS artistic director Vicky Featherstone, the production will tour to Aberdeen, Glasgow, Inverness and Dunfermline in February and March.

Speaking of taking on the production, McLeary told The Stage: “At first when you get asked to take on a task like this you are daunted. Then you go back and forth on whether you’re the right people to do it justice. Then you panic that the National Theatre of Scotland are going to offer it to someone else who will, you are sure, make an arse of it, then you stalk them until they give you the job because you realise you simply need to be involved in this, that if any stage adaptation of something you love this much is going ahead, it’s going ahead with the care, attention and respect that only a couple of lunatic fans can bring.”

Based on Anthony Shaffer’s screenplay for The Wicker Man and David Pinner’s novel Ritual, the NTS says it will be an “all-singing-and-dancing love letter to a unique and timeless cult masterpiece”. The cast will include Hemphill with Johnny McKnight.

Meanwhile, NTS is to tour the small-scale site-specific production Long Gone Lonesome to venues in Chicago, Texas, Florida, Indiana and Pennsylvania in February. A tribute to Thomas Fraser, the Shetland crofter and Country and Western recording artist, Duncan McLean’s musical ceilidh is also directed by Featherstone.

Beautiful Burnout, the NTS/Frantic Assembly co-production, is to tour to festivals in Australia and New Zealand in January.

In Falkirk, Reasons to Dance will explore why people dance, their memories of dancing and traditions associated with going out dancing. Created in partnership with Falkirk Community Trust the project will combine stories of social dancing with drama, music and visual art, culminating in a “major theatrical event” at a “a surprise location filled with dancing memories” in March.

The Bothy Project aims to find out memories of bothies from people walking and sheltering in the Scottish hills. Collection boxes have been placed in five bothies around Scotland to collect stories which will become part of a future project.

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