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Clare Burt to make RSC debut in Joan Littlewood musical

Clare Burt is to make her Royal Shakespeare Company debut as Joan Littlewood in a new musical about the theatre director.

Miss Littlewood, which has book, music and lyrics by Sam Kenyon, will run at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from June 22 to August 4, with press night on July 3.

The musical, directed by Erica Whyman, tells the life story of the “anarchic revolutionary of 20th century British theatre”.

Littlewood is known for her Theatre Workshop company, which was responsible for productions including Oh, What A Lovely War!, A Taste of Honey and The Hostage, and for breathing new life into the then-derelict Theatre Royal Stratford East in London.

Burt, whose credits include The Divide at the Old Vic in London, makes her RSC debut as Littlewood, while Aretha Ayeh, Sandy Foster, Amanda Hadingue, Dawn Hope, Emily Johnstone and Sophia Nomvete will also play the part of Joan at different stages of her life.

The cast also includes Daisy Badger, Greg Barnett, Laura Elsworthy, Solomon Israel, Natasha Lewis and Tam Williams.

Kenyon said: “When I read Joan Littlewood’s autobiography, Joan’s Book, and she wrote that she’d quit RADA aged 19 and walked – walked! – to Manchester, I knew immediately that I was on to something.

“And then I found the most searing love letters buried in the centre of the book.”

He added: “I’ve written this in homage to the Stockwell-born ‘illegitimate’ daughter of a teenage mother, who has inspired theatremakers worldwide and yet is barely known by her name.”

Miss Littlewood is designed by Tom Piper with lighting by Charles Balfour, sound by Jonathan Ruddick, movement by Lucy Hind, and video by Nina Dunn.

The musical is developed in collaboration with Theatre Royal Stratford East.