Theatre Productions Based on British Comics

A Note of Dischord

Last Updated: 18th February 2019
Compiled by Jeremy Briggs and John Freeman
With thanks to Richard Sheaf and others

All theatre productions featured, be they a play or a musical, are  based on a character or series originated in a British comic strip, whether it was in a newspaper or a comic, or a text story from one of the story papers.

Further information is very welcome. If you comment on this page we can incorporate your information into the feature itself in due course. Thank you.

Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: A note of Dischord

Based on Sydney Padua’s fantastic web comic 2D Goggles, famously frenetic Fringe veterans Theatre Paradok brought the inventions and influential historical figures of the Victorian era to life in an absurd Steampunk universe in 2013 at the Edinburg Fringe, with cacophonous contraptions and dynamic wit.

In A Note of Dischord, Mathematician Ada Lovelace and crackpot inventor Charles Babbage battle their nemesis, The Organist, after Babbage’s attempts to banish music from the streets of London set off a dastardly chain of events. A blaze of scientific in-jokes, mathematical equations and footnotes.

A Note of Dischord was trailed here on the Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage Blog blog

Andy Capp The Musical
Andy Capp © Mirror Newspapers

Andy Capp – The Musical

Book by Trevor Peacock. Music by Alan Price. Lyrics by Alan Price and Trevor Peacock.

Work-shy Andy squanders his rent money on beer and stumbles home late again. His long suffering missus Flo vows to leave him, but Andy promises his racing pigeons will one day make them a fortune.

A few doors down, innocent young lovers Elvis and Raquel plan their wedding, but will their lives turn out just like Andy and Flo? Not if Raquel’s mother, Mrs Scrimmett, has anything to do with it…

With Alan Price’s bouncy rhythms and Trevor Peacock’s razor sharp lyrics, this rediscovered British musical is a warm-hearted look at relationships and the simple pleasures in overcoming life’s obstacles – guaranteed to stamp a smile on your face.

Andy Capp The Musical premiered in 1982 at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, and then transferred to the West End, where it was nominated for the Olivier Award for Musical of the Year. Tom Courtenay starred as Andy and Alan Price, the show’s composer and former keyboardist for the popular band The Animals, played the role of Geordie.

Author of the book and Co-Lyricist Trevor Peacock is best known for his acting work on screen, most notably as Jim Trott in the BBC’s long-running sitcom, The Vicar of Dibley. He started his writing career penning songs for pop stars Adam Faith, Billy Fury and Joe Brown. His biggest hit was the 1960s classic Mrs Brown, “You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter”, recorded by Herman’s Hermits.

Peacock went on to write the lyrics for shows including Passion Flower Hotel (1965), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1966) and Erb (1970). He also wrote a series of musicals for the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester – Leaping Ginger (1977), Cinderella (1979), Class K (1985) and Jack and the Giant (1986).

Composer and Co-Lyricist Alan Price is best known as keyboardist for the 1960’s rhythm and blues band, The Animals. The group found international acclaim with hit songs “House of the Rising Sun”, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and “Bring It On Home To Me”. He went on to front his own band The Alan Price Set, recording hit singles “I Put a Spell on You” and “Hi Lili Hi Lo”.

Alan later reached the top ten UK album chart with his highly acclaimed album Between Today and Yesterday, featuring “Jarrow Song”. For cinema, Alan wrote the music for films O Lucky Man (1973) winning a BAFTA award for Best Film Music and Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Score, Britannia Hospital (1982) and The Whales of August starring Bette Davis (1987). He continues to tour with his band, playing regularly at The Bull’s Head in Barnes, London.

The musical was re-staged in 2016 at the Finborough Theatre, London, directed by Jake Smith. Set and Cosume Design by Bex Kemp, Choreography by Chris Cuming, Musical Direction by Tim Shaw. Presented by Joe Brown and Matt Whayman by arrangement with Samuel French Limited and in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre.

There’s more on the Andy Capp Musical here as part of an excellent article on Andy Capp by Paul Slade

• Alan Price Official Site – alanprice.absoluteelsewhere.net

Finborough Theatre – details of the staging

The Ballad of Halo Jones

Based on The Ballad of Halo Jones from 2000AD

The cover of In The Red Theatre Company's 1987 Ballad of Halo Jones stage play programme, designed by John Freeman
The cover of In The Red Theatre Company’s 1987 Ballad of Halo Jones stage play programme, designed by John Freeman

There has been more than one Ballad of Halo Jones stage play. The first in 1987 was directed by Clare Walters and was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe. The same production was then directed by Eric Jarvis. In 1988 the in the Red Theatre Company toured the show around the UK. The cast: Clare Fairley (Halo Jones), Debbie Howard (Rodice), Nicky McRoy (Toy), Andy Veal (Toby), Angela Clifford (Ludy), Dave Barrett (the Glyph).

Excerpts from the show feature on YouTube…

There is more information on this first adaptation on this web site

Liverpool 2012

Andrew Ness adapted Book One of the story in 2001.

• Read the cript for the 2001 adaptation by Andrew Ness

Manchester Fringe 2012

A new stage adaptation covering Book One and Book Two of the series was performed as a fringe theatre production in Manchester in January 2012 at the Lass O’Gowrie pub and was re-staged as part of the 2012 Thought Bubble.

Ballad of Halo Jones Stage Play Poster - 2012

Adrian Salmon provided the promotional post art for this production, which received rave reviews (including this extremely detailed one over on the Forbidden Planet blog)

• Re-staging Halo Jones: the inside story

downthetubes: Halo Jones heads for Thought Bubble

Read a review of the 2012 presentation of The Ballad of Halo Jones

Dan Dare - The MusicalDan Dare: The Musical

Based on “Dan Dare” from Eagle
Performed at: The Customs House Theatre, South Shields
When: 10th – 22nd March 2003
Script and Lyrics – Tom Kelly
Music – John Miles
Director – Ray Spencer

Cast: Dan Dare – Joe Caffrey; Digby – Gez Casey; Professor Peabody – Zoe Lambert; Sir Hubert – Donald McBride; The Mekon – David Whittaker; Crew Member 1 – Jane Dixon;

Based on Dan Dare – Voyage To Venus.

• Richard Sheaf has posted promotional materials and photographs from the show here  and here on his Boys Adventure blog

• There is an interview with Tom Kelly in Spaceship Away Issue 26.

• Review – http://www.britishtheatreguide.info/reviews/dandare-rev

Dan Dare – A Space Adventure

It was long thought that the only time that Eagle’s Dan Dare officially trod the boards of a British theatre was in the 2003’s Dan Dare: The Musical at the Customs House in South Shields. But in 1972 Dan Dare: A Space Adventurefeaturing Alex Leppard as Dan Dare, Mary Sheen as The Mekon and Maurice Colbourne from BBC TV’s Howard’s Way as Sondar, was staged at London’s then new Half Moon Theatre. Officially authorised by IPC, the then Dan Dare copyright owner, the play was written and directed by the Theatre’s co-founder Michael Irving, who also portrayed Spacefleet Controller Sir Hugh (not Hubert Guest, as in the comics) on stage.

The project was covered in detail in Spaceship Away Issue 42 by Jeremy Briggs and we ran an article which includes background video interviews about the find here

Derek The Sheep: The Case of the Googly Glasses

Derek The Sheep: The Quest For The Googly Glasses

Based on Derek The Sheep by Gary Northfield
Performed at: London Merton Abbey Mills
When: August 2011
More info: Read our original news story

As part of the south London Merton Abbey Mills complex’s AbbeyFest 2011, Derek the Sheep  appeared in The Quest For The Googly Glasses, written by Gary Northfield and performed by the Legend Theatre Company. Previewed on Sunday 24 July at the New Cross Turn Left small press event, the show ran from Tuesday 9th to Friday 12th August 2011 with a final show on Saturday 13th August.

The Gignatic Beard That Was Evil - Stage Play

The Giant Beard That Was Evil

Based on Stephen Collins Graphic Novel
Performed at: Bristol Old Vic Studio
When: 7th – 10th January 2015
More info:  bristololdvic.org.uk/giganticbeard

Directed by former JMK Assistant Director Bursary recipient and Made in Bristol graduate, Stephanie Kempson, who previously worked at Bristol Old Vic as Assistant Director to Sally Cookson on Jane Eyre, this world premiere, designed by Hannah Wolfe, uses music and ensemble theatre to tell a fairy tale for our time.

Verity Standen, celebrated composer at the helm of smash hits Mmm Hmmm and Hug, provides her usual blend of ingenious and thrilling atmospheric music for the production – from the Bangles to original compositions, Verity has created a soundscape that captures the melancholic grey-scale of the graphic novel on which is this production is based.

The Maw Broon Monologues

Based on The Broons from The Sunday Post
Performed at: The Tron Theatre, Glasgow from 3-8 November 2009
More Info at: http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts-ents/music-features/the-maw-broon-monologues-tron-theatre-glasgow-1.930329; and The Scotsman‘s review is here

The New Maw Broon Monologues

A Glasgay! Commision
Performed At: The Tron Theatre, Glasgow from 30th October – 9th November 2013
Written by Jackie Kay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Kay)
Songs by Alan Penman and Tom Urie
Directed by Liz Caruthers

Cast: Terry Neason and Suzanne Bonnar

Based on The Broons from The Sunday Post

Scotsman Review : http://www.scotsman.com/what-s-on/theatre-comedy-dance/theatre-review-the-new-maw-broon-monologue-glasgow-1-3166347

The Trial of Dennis the MenaceThe Trial of Dennis the Menace

Based on Dennis the Menace from The Beano
Performed at: Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room, London
When: February 2012
More info: Read our original new story

The Trial of Dennis the Menace took place  over the weekend of 17-19th February as part of the Imagine Children’s Festival.

The play was written by Caroline Bird with original music by Matt Rogers and was commissioned by Southbank Centre, with The Sage Gateshead and Juice Festival, and Glasgow UNESCO City of Music, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The Spider Moon

Based on The Spider Moon From The DFC by Kate Brown
Performed by the Playbox Theatre at the Dream Factory, Warwick on 25/26 September & 1-3 October 2009

Experience a whole new landscape of vibrant colour, breathtaking adventure and thrilling animation in a show to live on in the memory… The world premiere of Kate Brown’s adventure created for The DFC and now taking the journey of Bekka to an all new level in a heroic epic of discovery, magic and conflict set as an entire world moves towards doomsday. The Spider Moon celebrated Playbox Theatre’s 10 years at The Dream Factory in Warwick, West Midlands.

V for Vendetta from Lass Productions
V for Vendetta from Lass Productions

V for Vendetta

Performed at: The Lass O’Gowrie, Charles Street, Manchester in January/March  2013 (and also at the Sci-Fi Weekender 2013 and Lakes International Comic Art Festival 2013)
Adapted for the stage by Sean Mason
Director: Ross Kelly
Producer: Gareth Kavanagh

Cast: Daniel Thackeray (V);  Sinead Parker (Evey Hammond); Marlon Solomon (Eric Finch); Carly Tarrett (Delia Surridge); Paida Noel (Valerie*);
Daniel Blake (Derek Almond*); Michael Whittaker (Dominic Stone*); Brian Gorman (Peter Creedy); Stuart Hudson (Bishop Harold Lilliman); Jez Smith (Lewis Prothero); Leni Murphy (Rosemary Almond*0 and Victoria Tunnah (The Girl*)

* The version of V performed at the Sci-Fi Weekender 2013 was a shortened version omitting the characters of Derek Almond, Rosemary Almond and The Girl. In addition, Michael Whittaker and Paida Noel were unable to appear , and so Leni Murphy played Valerie and Daniel Blake, Dominic Stone.

Based on the comic strip created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, initially published in Warrior and completed by DC Comics

Read our interview with the director

Lass Productions – V for Vendetta Production Notes

Reviews

Read our review of V for Vendetta courtesy The Fiction Stroker

• The Good Review

• The Public Reviews

• What’s On Stage

Let us know what you think about this story

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