Ray Bradbury musical premieres at the Edinburgh Fringe

HE IS known for creating dystopian worlds of the future, but it will be a musical that returns legendary sci-fi author Ray Bradbury to global prominence.

The 89-year-old American is to stage the international premiere of a theatre piece - 2116 - he first wrote more than 50 years ago at the Edinburgh Fringe next month.

"To have it performed is a gift," Bradbury told Scotland on Sunday from his home in Los Angeles, where the show has had a handful of preview performances.

"When I saw it here in LA, I wept with joy."

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The musical features dancing robots, marionettes and puppets, as well as characters from some of Bradbury's best known works, including Farenheit 451 and Dandelion Wine.

It will be performed by Los Angeles theatre group Gallimaufry Performing Arts.

Bradbury will be unable to make the Scottish premiere, which takes place on 5 August at Edinburgh's George Square Theatre.

He originally wrote the piece for the English Hollywood actor Charles Laughton and his wife, the actress Elsa Lanchester in the 1950s. Laughton brought in the eccentric Frankenstein director James Whale to develop the project but before it was completed Whale committed suicide and Bradbury consigned the script to a drawer.

It was resurrected by Steve Josephson, of Gallimaufry Performing Arts, who approached Bradbury about developing the script.

"All I got was lyrics, pages and pages of lyrics, with character names and no music," said Josephson.

The finished piece, which tells the story of a couple celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and a touring theatre company who risk their lives to tell their tale, keeps Bradbury's original first act intact, while in the second act characters, plots and themes emerge from other Bradbury works.

The composer John Hoke has also created an original score.

"Most of the piece is what I originally wrote but I had no trepidation about letting (Steve and John] add pieces and music to it," said Bradbury.

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Several musical adaptations of Bradbury's works have been made in the past. Although he has written lyrics and new dialogue for them all, this is the first time the writer has attempted a musical from scratch.

Despite his advancing years, Bradbury still writes every day and says he has no intention of retiring.

"Why would I stop?" he said. "I'll still be speaking from beyond the grave.

"I love all the genres and all the pieces I've written - plays, stories, essays, novels, poetry, the movies I've directed. Everything."

During 2116's Edinburgh run, Bradbury will celebrate his 90th birthday, as well as the performances of his long-awaited musical. n REVIEW: PAGE 7

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