Adrian Mole musical set to debut at Leicester's Curve Theatre in 2015

Musical said to be 'in the model of Matilda but very different'

The creative team behind a new musical adaptation of Adrian Mole are scouring the iconic character’s home city of Leicester to find the child star to play the self-proclaimed “13 ¾ year old intellectual”.

The Curve Theatre is to bring one of Leicester’s most famous fiction son to the stage in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ - The Musical, next March.

The creative team behind the project described it as “in the model of Matilda, but very different”. That will include casting the four main children’s roles with local kids, rather than grown up performers.

Pippa Cleary, who wrote the music and lyrics, said: “We’re having lots of auditions here. The hope is to try and get as many Leicester kids involved as we can.”

The team behind the new work – which also included director Luke Sheppard and Jake Brunger who wrote the story and also worked on the lyrics – sought to capture the voice of author Sue Townsend, who died this year.

 

“We’re really happy as Sue endorsed it; she loved it and could sing it. Hopefully we’ve really captured her voice. She was involved from the beginning,” Ms Cleary said.

“It was such sad news when she passed. We saw her shortly before then and it was lovely. Fortunately we had long finished and she was very happy with the musical.”

The creative team behind the adaptation met at university six years ago. “We’ve always wanted to do this,” Ms Cleary said. “We were very careful. The main task was making it sound like Sue’s voice; we used the book like a bible in our writing sessions. A lot of the lyrics are direct quotes from the book.”

Townsend’s husband Colin Broadway said the author had been “thrilled” to work with the writers “to bring back to the Leicester stage her bestselling book”.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ was Townsend’s first novel, published by Penguin Books in 1982. It sold over 20 million copies worldwide and spawned seven sequels.

Ms Cleary said: “The book sings so beautifully; Adrian is such a brilliant character to write for, he was a character we all grew up loving. I think Sue took a punt on us because we are a relatively new writing team and we wanted to bring it to a new audience.”

The musical, which is set in 1980s Leicester, will follow the misadventures of the eponymous hero from that first novel.

Mr Brunger and Ms Cleary have been working on the idea for three years. After the rights had lapsed they went to see Townsend’s agent.

“We poured our hearts out about why we wanted to do it, and she told us to write some test scenes and songs. It all went from there,” Ms Cleary said.

There are 16 songs, and Ms Clearly described it as “unashamedly musical theatre” adding: “It couldn’t open anywhere else. Sue is Leicester through and through.”

Read more: Sue Townsend dies aged 68
Sue Townsend obituary
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